SeaCastle Magazine SeacastleMagazine n.3 sett-ott.2017 - Page 23

PERSONAGGI / OUR CHARACTERS d’argento quel maledetto parassita, con muso e baffi ancora infarinati si guardava attorno. Il roditore non aveva nemmeno il tempo di indietreggiare che già piombava la mano destra della surciara che l’artigliava al collo e con un’abile movimento d’indice e pollice lo soffocava in un istante. La manovra mortale durava pochi secondi, sicché dopo la prima presa si creava un ritmo particolare, con la sequenza di un suono metallico, il batter sul tubo, uno squittio e un ahhhhh prolungato della vedova che accompagnava l’ultimo respiro della preda. I proprietari del mulino erano rimasti soddisfatti e la surciara aveva risolto i problemi del pasto quotidiano. Sulla sua tavola pane e pasta fresca non mancavano mai e tutte le sante domeniche dalla modesta casa s’esalava un profumino d’arrosto che stuzzicava i nasi degli invidiosi vicini. Scorticava il sorcio più grasso, tolte le interiora lo bolliva e infine lo arrostiva sulla carbonella viva, con salvia, rosmarino, sale abbondante e una spruzzata d’olio e aglio pestato. Una delizia. sazietà. Non ci potevano né gatti né trappole con gli ingordi roditori, che ingrassavano a vista d’occhio. Usare il veleno in un mulino non se ne parlava nemmeno, senza contare le visite della Guardia di Finanza che sarebbero state sicuramente più frequenti. Così l’intervento di la za Maria, povera vedova, sarebbe stato provvidenziale. Giunta al mulino la surciara s’era liberata delle gramaglie scoprendo la pelle illanguidita delle magre braccia e aveva annusato, proprio come un gatto, con il naso umidiccio, fra ingranaggi e sacchi colmi di farina. Il passaggio dei topi avveniva lungo la coclea lamierata. Lei aspettava, con pazienza, i gridi acuti e sottili che annunciavano la presenza dei ratti. Con le nocche nodose della mano sinistra batteva sul tubo, poi si spostava all’indietro, d’un solo passo, ed ecco che usciva il primo topo, trippone, ben pasciuto. Sembrava T he mice hunter arrived at the sunset, her head covered by a black scarf with the corners knotted under the bony chin and wrapped by a cotton shawl even darker. Seen from a distance she looked like a threatening cloud full of water, but as soon as she got closer she cleared up: a toothless smile came out from her white face and every now and then a grey forelock appeared on her wrinkled forehead. With a mechanic gesture, she put it under the black veil which framed her pear shaped head. Her husband had died some months ago. A bad fall from the kart had produced a deep wound on his head, a cut from where some grey matter had come out. He had died with a death rattle, bled to death, in the wealthy countryside of Balata di Baida. The inhabitants of Balata di Baida found his corpse and with slow movements crossed themselves bitterly saying: “poor uncle Paolo, only God knows where his soul is”. His soul wandered nowhere after leaving the wretched body laid on the ground with the head mixed with blood and earth. Don Paolo and donna Maria didn’t have any sons. The widow had succeed in selling the horse and the cart at a good price because the animal was healthy and knew the way to the mill. With the proceeds she had enough to live for the rest of her days and thanks God, with the house she owned, she wouldn’t have great problems. The owners of the mill of Castellammare, to honour the honesty of the carter, called for the wife to entrust her for a particular job. That was how donna Maria started again to be the mice hunter, a job she had inherited from her grandmother on her mother’s side and once married had abandoned. For every mouse caught the miller would have given her a handful of flour, of the best quality obviously. That afternoon the mice hunter had walked to Castellammare going to the mill to catch the cursed mice which during the night polished off flour and bran. Cats and traps had failed with the greedy rats, which got fatter and fatter. As soon as the mice hunter arrived at the mill she smelt, like a cat, with wet nose, among the gears and the sacks full of flour. The passing of the mice was along the spiral screw covered by a sheet steel. She waited patiently for the shrill screams which announced the presence of the rats. With the knotty knuckles of her left hand she hit the pipe, then she moved back, only one step, and here the first mouse, fat and well fed, appeared. The mouse hadn’t the time to turn back because the mice hunter’s right hand grabbed its neck and with a skilful movement of the forefinger and thumb chocked it immediately. The owners of the mill were satisfied and the mice hunter had solved the problem of every day meal. On her table bread and fresh pasta were always present and every Sunday from the modest house a scent of roast meat, which whetted the curious neighbors’ noses, came out. She skinned the fattest mouse, took off the entrails, boiled it and then roasted it on the charcoal with sage, rosemary plenty of salt and a sprinkling of smashed garlic. A real pleasure. S ea C astle M agazine 23