Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Light and Dark: Photos

Enjoy impression of Venice at night.

"Where then is the meeting point?: where in mankind is the ecstasy of light and dark together, the supreme transcendence of the afterglow, day hovering in the embrace of the coming night like two angels embracing in the heavens, like Eurydice in the arms of Orpheus, or Persephone embraced by Pluto?" D. H. Lawrence from Twilight in Italy

Venice at Night: The Return

The Gamard Family a Table (excuse the lack of accent)
This past June, I revisited Venice after a six year absence, practically a different person with a different sort of life, so is it any wonder my impressions have changed about this unique place? (If you wish to read what I had written in 2004 about my first trip, please click here.)

But, one thing that has not changed, in fact it has only been more heightened with my last visit, is my love of Venice at night. What a difference from the daytime, more public Venice! Her private face is much more beautiful, enigmatic, and mysterious. My first picture shows my family (minus my husband who is taking the photo and most of my father-in-law) sitting down to an amazing dinner in Murano, one of the Venetian islands. We enjoyed a feast practically straight out of the sea (what else would you even think of eating in Venice!) and shared a bottle of the well-known Venetian Prosecco. It was an incredible meal-one of those meals that will stay in my mind forever.

Evening is falling, and the heat is beginning to dissipate as we share conversation and laughs looking out over the tiny town. As always in our family, as well as in Italy and France, the children share in the conviviality, and it is an injustice to exclude them from sharing meals and social life. As some of you may already know, my husband is French and most of his family still live in France. Stephan and I make it a definite point to embrace French culture, especially the sanctity of the meal and of food itself that is seen throughout France. We would never exclude our son Tristan, or any children, and we always understand that people of every age should feel free to socialize together. We are never too young or too old for great conversation, or great food!
After our meal, we stroll through the town, three generations high on life, and two high on prosecco, while each of us nurses our aches and pains of various levels from a day full of sightseeing through the Venetian islands. In this photo, as we are waiting for the boat to take us back to our bed for the night, no one thinks about the time spent waiting. Stephan is a true raconteur, so they are all immersed in the story he is telling. I decide to sneak away to start taking some photos because, as night falls, I start to feel the magic appearing like a nocturnal animal cautiously exiting its daytime hiding place.

After the vaporetto arrives, and we rush to the rear of the boat to get a view of the island and still be out in the night air, I notice the effect the boat's churnings have on the water in the lagoon. I spend a good 10-15 minutes snapping photos with my very basic point and shoot (without a tripod) hoping to capture this effect and the feeling of being there. In my next post, I will include a few of these photos.

After night had fallen and it was impossible to get any more photos, we started to see the moon emerge. Not just an ordinary moon, though. The moon was very full and very red! We were amazed that we could be at such a right place and time as to observe this effect. Stephan kept saying, "La Luna Rossa, I've heard that someplace before. I'm not sure where, but it is familiar somehow..." Well, I've done a little research and the only thing I have come up with is that it has something to do with the heat in the atmosphere that creates this red moon. Regardless, those were some beautiful moments. I'm so glad we had a chance to share them on this night in June. It amazes me when I realize how incredible it is to arrive at certain places, especially those far-off places, and we are there, living and breathing, as if we were home. To me, this night felt like home.

A Journey Remembered...

A View from the Rialto Bridge, Venice
A Gondola in All of Its Splendor, down one of the Smaller Canals
The Campanile, St. Mark's Square, Venice (flag of Venice)
The Lagoon
This is the first of a series of posts about our trip this summer to Venice, Austria, Hungary, and the Italian Lakes. I am going to start with start with these few pictures. Hopefully, it gets my memory back in gear so that I can write something decent ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Autumn...

Elegy IX: The Autumnal by John Donne

No spring nor summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnall face.
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape,
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot 'scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame,
Affection here takes Reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age; that's true,
But now she's gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time,
This is her tolerable Tropique clime.
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were,
They were Love's graves; for else he is no where.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit
Vowed to this trench, like an Anachorit.

And here, till hers, which must be his death, come,
He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he, though he sojourn ev'ry where,
In progress, yet his standing house is here.
Here, where still evening is; not noon, nor night;
Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
You may at revels, you at counsel, sit.
This is Love's timber, youth his under-wood;
There he, as wine in June enrages blood,
Which then comes seasonabliest, when our taste
And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the Platane tree,
Was loved for age, none being so large as she,
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
Her youth with age's glory, Barrenness.
If we love things long sought, Age is a thing
Which we are fifty years in compassing;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter-faces, whose skin's slack;
Lank, as an unthrift's purse; but a soul's sack;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade;
Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
To vex their souls at Resurrection;
Name not these living deaths-heads unto me,
For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes; yet I had rather stay
With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's natural lation is, may still
My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties so,
I shall ebb out with them, who homeward go.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Not only is 9/11 a solemn day for us all, it is the one year anniversary of our cat Leo escaping and surviving lost outside for a month. I just want to say again how very thankful I am that he was found and brought back to us, so we can love and cherish him today. I don't know what I'd do without him! Please stay home Leo this year! Your mid-life crisis is over...;)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remembering Keats...

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

- John Keats, 19 September 1819

Getaway Car

The first day of school seemingly went off without a hitch. I woke up well before the alarm, the coffee pot brewed a full pot of coffee without spilling all over the kitchen or malfunctioning, Tristan woke up without a fight, and we both made it to the bus stop fully clothed. Historically this hasn't been the case. With the bus stop being at the end of the driveway and the middle of winter being dark and tundra-like, it is very tempting to remain in modest nightwear. Also, I sent Tristan to school last year one day without underwear due to the darkness and my verging on sleepwalking in the morning, causing me to almost have a mental breakdown from the worry of his reaction when he realized nothing stood between him and his uniform pants.

This morning, however, Tristan and I happily made the short walk to the bus stop all bright- eyed and bushy-tailed, and READY. We spy the flashing lights in the distance of the approaching bus. I turn to notice the one remaining toy left in the driveway from our fun-filled summer (his Volkswagen New Beetle, kid-sized). So, I say to Tristan, "You know there is still a way out. Your getaway car is waiting in the driveway. All you have to do is get in it and drive away." We hear the roar of the bus approaching. He says, "Yeah, that would be great! Except that car is too slow and it only has two seats. I think I'll take the Cabrio (my own adult-sized Volkswagen). That way we can both leave and spend the rest of our lives together at Target!"

Gotta love my guy! First grade, here he comes!