Two down, three to go on “Five Things About Liguria” based on my recent weekend there. Yesterday’s post was about living without clothes dryers. Today’s does away with another modern convenience: the wristwatch.
“What time is it?” you ask. According to my watch, it’s 9:03 a.m. According to the cherubs on the light green wall it’s—look at that!—exactly the same time. Weather permitting, we can do away with digital read-outs and mechanical hands, because the sun doesn’t make mistakes. Practice has made it perfect.
The more I walked around Varazze, the more sundials, or meridiane, I saw. Some were elaborate, others primitive, still others painted to blend in perfectly with the trompe l’oeil architectural details of the host wall.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in the time of hand-wound clocks clicking loudly on various bedside tables, or because I now live in the era of plasma screen displays driven by complex digital technology. But I find the silent and—here’s the thing—accurate creep of a shadow against a wall absolutely magical.
Every time I saw a sundial last weekend—and they were popping up every where—I felt as if I’d stumbled upon a secret. Or at least another silent reminder that I don’t need all the things I have. Or maybe it wasn’t reminding me of that but this: It’s nicer, sometimes, to look up at a blue sky or a beautifully painted wall than down at a handheld device. And as for telling the time, if the sun is out of commission, your stomach, most likely, is not.