January 9, 2016
Chilefarms, home of Ricardo Ceriani and Susaan Straus
Remember those old European movies in which a family celebrates a momentous occasion? It's always a warm sunny day, generations gather – grandparents to toddlers – home-made food is heaped in bowls and spread onto plates, everyone eats dinner at one long table, glasses clink, toasts are shouted out, family tensions are neutralized by red wine and a general sense of goodwill. if it's a birthday, songs are sung and magnificent cakes are served.
Transfer this scene to Nogales, Chile, on January 9, 2016, one of the early days of summer in the southern hemisphere and you have the setting for Ricardo Ceriani’s entry into the sixth decade of his life.
Everyone is related by blood or marriage. Some have come from the next town, Quillota, and Ricardo's brother, his wife and daughter, from as far away as Montréal. Starting at 11:45 AM, the guest list gathers steam like a locomotive chugging downhill until by 3 PM 26 people gathered in pods around the farm house’s wraparound porch, the grassy front yard, and the inviting pool behind the house. About eight hours later, most will consider calling it a day.
When the teenagers in the group are having a great time, you know this is one hell of a party. They gleefully play with their toddler cousins, cavort in the pool, and hug their uncles and aunts. The smart phones are generally holstered. And calls go unanswered. That goes for the adults too.
No one is here on this Saturday who hasn't planned on making a day of it. Presents are not expected or required. The biggest gift they are giving Ricardo and each other is their presence. Complete and undivided.
The setting would make a cinematographer drool. The foothills of the Andes to the east, the coastal range that spills into the Pacific to the West, orange groves and cornfields, barns and stables visible from this farmhouse perched on a sturdy hill in the midst of its 50 acres of land.
The party begins to wind down at 8 PM. Each goodbye last about 45 minutes, perhaps a universal event on occasions like these. By dusk at 9 PM the dust from the last car rolling down the driveway has settled.
Photo by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.
Photo page to follow
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.