The smallest bells are those worn by the hunting dogs that sniffle about, sometimes in our garden searching out wild boar. The hunting season is in full swing so there is gunfire every day and particularly at the weekend when hunters arrive from Rome looking ridiculous in their camouflage outfits and accompanied by lots of dogs. At least the bells are a warning for our cats to keep away and when dogs get lost as sometimes happens we can tell the hunters if and when we’ve heard them.
Then there is the delightful sound of the bells on the sheep, who are now in the habit of hurtling down the mountainside to attack our hedge and my pots of plants. We are quite happy about the hedge cropping, wish they could reach a bit higher and tidy it all, but begonias, marigolds and spider plants have all been relocated. Even when we can’t see the sheep we hear them late afternoon grazing nearby, they make me happy.
The third bells are those worn by the cows that live high on the mountain during summer. They are massive horned beasts wearing huge alpine bells and the clanking is getting closer as they move down for winter. They may eventually end up right here at the house as they did one year, grazing outside our bedroom window all night and entertaining us with their bell ringing. There is some rural law in Italy, we were told about it when we bought our house, that if your land isn’t fenced off anyone can graze their animals on it. There is access to our orchard and the cows have been known to wander in, as has the odd hunter who apparently has the same right of access.
I find the sound of the cow bells rather mournful, in the way I did the winter geese flying over every night when we lived in Scotland. It foretells the approaching winter and heralds the next set of bells, those blooming jingle ones.