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The journey of the prickly pear tree.  By Carmela D'Amore

On the sides of the slopes lies the prickly pear tree, sitting with its flowers in full bloom, the sun is scorching as the breeze gently touches my face, its fruit ready for me to pick, its not an easy fruit to clean, you need to have the expertise of generations, as it has prickly thorns all over it, lucky I had the teaching skills, while a little girl from my father Sam, and nonno Jack, I had my fathers pocket knife, and the razor sharp skills of my nonno Jack, that was enough, to reach and savour the delicious taste that was waiting for me with each bite, bursting in my mouth, and creating an amazing sensation in my palate of history and memories.

Funny thing, how a prickly pear can awaken all of these memories in me?

The story of this prickly pear tree and the wonders it holds few people know, but if the fig tree could talk, can you imagine the stories it has to tell me, who knows how old it even is? I wondered if the Spaniards had brought it with them when they tried to conquer Sicily?

Come and walk through the mountains the wind spoke to me as the sound of the breeze captured the moment, transmitting this oxygen into my soul.

The Tyrrhenian Ocean (I heard that some days you can see the coast of Tunisia from here) slowly speaks as I feel its breeze on this mountain.

From each wave I could see up here, it was manifesting the story of history and heritage.

The splendour of this Isle of Sicily that my ancestors came from, it is a place to savour, experience and live every moment that it so preciously gives you, it has a gift that it gives, to anyone that comes here the gift is unique.

The prickly pear tree slowly revealed to me and gently took me to the place of my ancestors.

The words from my ancestors echoed clear and precise gently speaking to me from the breeze; it had enveloped my thoughts and transmitted me into a world of strength, honour and courage it was all under my feet the sensation was surreal.

Struggle, triumph, tragedy, and honour, was in bedded in the roots of my ancestors, there was pride, as I sensed you knew where you belonged. I was aware that it had all passed me, as I sat and ate the prickly pear, I could feel the emotion of my history and family before me, tears streaming down my face, the omnipotent presence of my ancestors, emotions of empathy had risen for them, as I realised that they had carried me this far, where was I meant to go from here?

Was history my teacher in this moment, from this prickly pear tree?

Emotions of jealousy had risen up, as they had a comradeship between them; unity of family and history was their foundations, where I had always had a feeling of isolation a sense of not belonging, and never fitting in anywhere, it has always been a part of me that had followed me on this journey into this land of Sicily.

I had been many times to Sicily, but nothing like this had happened before, it was much deeper than the tugging of my roots.

Being aware that it was my journey to merge my homeland and birthplace together, and discover a sense of belonging in my soul; it is part of my journey and destiny, to merge the two diverse cultures. My soul longed for the place of rest, as I felt that I had travelled so far most of my life. Did others that where born of different countries feel like that I wondered?

There is a stronger part of me that felt the roots of my heritage more than this present moment, all I wanted was to savour this moment, as the juices of the prickly pear tree, trickled down my hand.

What time had surpassed in this moment in time?

Every one has a destiny and a journey. Mine has yet to fully evolve slowly it is taking shape, the lessons have been learning curves, and of gathering the data (information) to proceed on with my path.

Heritage is important as it is the cornerstone to my own journey in life. It is the essence of who I am; slowly building the tree of my own life.

Letting go and embracing the frontier of this future that is mine has been liberating to say the least.

What can I say to you to take you on this mountain and to show you what I know? All I can tell you is what I have learnt from the experience.

What I know for sure is that we are all on a journey, where we are born our parents know, where we end it is up to us.

My nonno Jack used to say, si sa dove uno e nato ma no dove si muori, (you know where one is born but not one will die) funny it never made sense to me, but somehow it did to that generation. They must have given up their challenge, as today we are well aware when our time is up.

In the middle of it is the experiences that I have learnt, I have taken the best and let go of what did not serve me to continue.

Has it been challenging? Yes! It has, sometimes it’s been like having surgery without anaesthetic. I have chosen to go through the pain instead of dying in the pain. I have learnt that the change is in the pain; and the growth to stretch me was in it. (I remember when I was growing up, and had growing pains, it was very painful, all I could do was rest and go through the pain) this is my diamond to share with you.

If you are going through changes keep heading towards the goal that is in front of you, don’t stay doormat, as it will kill you. Keep the diamond shining (as the pain is part of the refining of our diamond) continue on what is our path, look always towards the light and never steer from our own voice, for it is the truth in us, always listen to you, as you know where your calling, we have just forgotten it because of all the clutter in life, and the people I listened to. Never give up!

It is your life no one else’s. Love yourself with no conditions and receive love with open arms. We have only one life, live it to the max, every day counts, and every minute counts. Live like there is one life, never listen to the negative always be happy, as there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

My heritage and journey has brought me here to share with you what I know for sure.

This prickly pear tree mirrored what was already in me, waiting for the perfect timing to come together, and reveal what I needed to be reminded of.

My prayer for you is that your journey is what is destined to be and may it always be yours.

I wish you wellbeing and sparkle that diamond that is within you.

Carmela D’Amore

Carmela D’Amore

Carmela D’Amore is an International Sicilian chef, the daughter and granddaughter of Sicilian migrants, with over 45 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Ambassador to Sicilian food and culture, a published International author of over 3 books, currently the executive chef of Sorrento Trattoria, an Italian Restaurant situated in Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.