Shine and shadow


It started out like this, with me admiring my fantastic R. Crumb legs. Then I began to notice lots of other people had them too.

Yesterday was the first day of spring (“Hold the One-Star!” an old newspaper friend of mine would yell here).  But the weather yesterday didn’t seem very convinced.

Today, though, we had all the early warning signs of spring: clear skies, fresh breeze, warm sun, everything within sight looking as if it were taking a figurative luxurious deep breath and throwing open its windows. On a less poetic, but no less significant level, every woman in the neighborhood appeared to have washed every item of clothing in the house, down to the dog socks, because then she could hang it all out and literally watch it dry.

You all know my fixation on laundry.  Maybe March 22 should be called the First Day of Laundry. Or better yet, we’ll reassign the feast day of St. Hunna of Alsace (“The Holy Washerwoman”) from April 15 to March 22.  Just a thought.

But I had a feast day of sun and shadows, myself. This afternoon I had to walk to the end of via Garibaldi to pick up a shirt from Rosie, the young Moldovan seamstress with fingers of gold, who had finished turning its collar.  I was happy to have the shirt, along with its additional two years of useful life, but I was even happier to see the sun going down. Because at 5:00 PM or so it had reached the perfect level to create a wilderness of shadows along the broad strip of pavement.

People, dogs, children, assorted objects from pigeons to dog poop, each came attached to its own dark silhouette clinging to whatever point was touching the ground.  Roller skates, sneakers, skateboards, paws, flagpoles, old ladies, shopping bags, toddlers — everything had its own personal doppelganger.

Watching all this as I walked home was hugely entertaining.  Some people were pulling their shadows along behind them, others were pushing them in front, but whether the shadows were being made to frolic or to stand stock still, or walk smartly along or  stretch out into long exaggerated strips of black, or go all shapeless and run into other nearby shadows and disappear, they were all over the place.

Some people look at the sun; I was looking at where the sun was not.

Pigeons join the shadowfest.

Then things began to get a little cluttered. I was good with the dogshadow, then I began to notice that the chairs, the tables, the sandwich-board, were all throwing their shadows into the crowd. It was starting to look like there were even shadows without objects attached to them. I wouldn’t put it past them.

Before long, via Garibaldi had more shadows than things. I don’t understand how that works.

Bringing it back to the basics: Two men with the Modigliani approach to their shadows.

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  1. Charlie Pistor says:

    Loved the shadows article. I have a great elephant shadow picture, when me, my daughter and son in law were in Vic Falls on an elephant ride. Looks like the elephant legs are 50 ft long!!! The conditions have to be just right.

  2. Lesley P says:

    My husband and I returned late last night (23rd March) from a two night stay on the Lido. As you say, the weather was glorious. Venice and its surroundings are always beautiful – we’ve visited 7 or 8 times now – but it was stunning on this occasion.

  3. Andrew @ Blogging Guide
    Twitter: andrewrondeau


    If only we, here in the UK, had a little sun!



    • Erla Zwingle says:

      That was the last sunshine that we’ve seen for quite a while — I didn’t realize when I took those pictures how precious and historic they would be. We have had three times the normal amount of rain in March; it’s been the rainiest March in 20 years. I can dry my shoes every night, but the vintners can’t prune the grapevines — and the artichokes are a month behind. What can I say.

  4. Debi says:

    Yup, I experienced the rain in Venice! was there March 29 and 30 with the rain! umbrellas very hard to use through the streets, knocking into everyone else’s umbrellas! LOL