I’ve just spent the weekend in Liguria at a typical little seaside town called Varazze. And as it’s not my intention to turn this into a travel blog, I’m simply going to tell you about five things that struck me while I was there. Here’s the first.
“Thing” doesn’t seem the right word to describe the sea. Forgive me. It is a being, a living being. I watched the waves roll in and out on Saturday as they have done forever and ever, and I wondered why it is that this thing, this being—the mass of water that is our oceans and seas—draws us to it. And I wondered, too, how it is exactly that it gives us back our childhoods and reminds us of our mortality all at the same time.
I was sitting on an enormous piece of driftwood, just behind a dune of sand and Ligurian stones—round, polished black-and-white veined pebbles that make music when the water rushes over them. The Mediterranean was alive with diamonds. Nothing else happened. I felt happy and sad all at the same time. But, this is what it is to be alive, isn’t it?
This vast reminder of life and death and childhood and everything is the constant thrumming backdrop to the candy colors and the open-air card games and the desperate kisses and the gelato-stained children—all those things that add up to the uniquely colorful life that thrives on the Italian Riviera. You eat and drink well, love the people you love, sit without striving, follow the sun, and allow yourself to be dazzled by the brilliance of one more day on this planet.
Aside from the intensity of the back of Luna’s head, I am fascinated by the second photograph, which shows seven perfectly parallel layers of light and color from edge to edge of the frame, bottom up. Only gray and blue–but how beautiful. It illustrates how much can be done with so “little”:
1. Foreground, at bottom – Wet, gray sand, with indistinct footprints and small marks left by rippling water
2. Foam, after tiny white-blue waves have broken, almost half of the picture
3. Dark line of tiny wave breaking, dividing the image very distinctly at slightly less than one-half the way up
4. Cerulean sea, almost all the way to the horizon, like a sheet of paper wrinkles and flattened out again
5. Thin dark blue line of distant sea, a sixteenth of an inch high, perfect parallel lines, one-fourth from top of picture
6. Pale white-pink sky, fading into . . .
7. Perfect blue, same cerulean as sea, fading to greater intensity, no lines, barely visible wisp cloud, to top edge of frame.
P.S. (five minutes later)
As I look at it again, I see that the layer I identified as “white” is actually a very, very, very faint pink–just the right contrast to make the image even more beautiful than I had first thought. –A.
Oh, cara Luna! I miss her so… and she obviously shares your love of the sea. xo, A
She is getting old. Thirteen now. All she wanted to do was jump in…but we had to keep her on the leash because the water is too cold for her this time of year and because despite the tranquil pictures, the tide was too rough…there were dips and troughs that would have tripped her up…She doesn’t take her eyes off the water though. Never.
i’m tempted to say “that’s not a dog, it’s me” under the picture of, what obviously, is a dog. but the dog seems to be staring out at the horizon with the same weird wonder as i might: how big! what else? how much of me is salt water, unmeasurably deep and broad, and moon-forced animation? how do i compare? hoo-boy, i just sits and stares….sniffing the air.
ha ha, that’s so funny. At first I didn’t have the picture of Luna. And then when I put it, it so — as you say — perfectly illustrated everything I was saying about being drawn to the sea that it looked like she was talking/writing. We all react the same way. Adults, children, dogs, whoever. That water calls your name.
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