Jul
16

Cutting up

By
In case you might wonder why the Austrians filled in this canal, I was told by a knowledgeable source that when they had their stables in what is now the Giardini, they created this modest stretch of street in order to be able to promenade on horseback, in a miniature version of the promenades in the Bois de Boulogne (or whatever Austrian park corresponds to it).  Which is why the bridge at the end of the street is a simple arch, without steps.

In case you might wonder why the Austrians filled in this canal, I was told by a knowledgeable source that they built stables in what is now the Giardini, and created this modest stretch of street in order to be able to promenade on horseback, performing a miniature version of the promenades in the Bois de Boulogne or the Vienna Prater. Which is why the bridge at the end of the street is a simple arch, without steps.

The horse- (and stroller- and shopping-cart- and skateboard-) - friendly bridge.

The horse- (and stroller- and shopping-cart- and skateboard-) friendly bridge.

 

A few days ago a powerful storm passed through, strewing rain and wind everywhere (though it stopped short of throwing hail, I’m glad to say, nor did any tiles go frisbeeing off roofs — my own ballpark-way of measuring the ratio between windspeed and danger).

But I forgot about trees.  We discovered the following morning that these can also be useful, potentially life-threatening, indicators of wind.

The viale Garibaldi (not to be confused with via Garibaldi) is the shady length of filled-in canal which stretches 785 feet (239 m) from the aforementioned street to the Giardini vaporetto stop.  During the summer its enclosing rows of lime trees provide the most heavenly shade, and there is always some breeze.  The benches, especially during the heat of the day, are almost always occupied by people who are either eating or sleeping, which leads Lino to refer to this space as either the refectory or the dormitory.

A view of the church of San Giuseppe di Castello, by Antonio Canaletto.  The church in the foreground was torn down, houses built in its place, the canal in the foreground filled in to create viale Garibaldi, and limetrees planted along its borders.  In other words, this view is painted from the perspective of a person standing on what was to become the viale Garibaldi.  (www.canalettogallery.org)

A view of the church of San Giuseppe di Castello (in background), by Antonio Canaletto. The church in the foreground was torn down as part of Napoleon’s Let’s-Make-Venice-More-Beautiful campaign, houses built in its place, the canal in the foreground filled in, and limetrees planted along its borders. In other words, this view is painted from the perspective of a person standing on what was to become the viale Garibaldi. (www.canalettogallery.org)

We weren’t surprised to discover that a tree had been blown down, but I was surprised to see what damage it had wrought.  Lime trees bless us briefly with the most heavenly perfume each spring when the flowers bloom, but evidently their root system is not adapted to the conditions here.  By “conditions” I don’t mean the possibility of wind, which exists everywhere, but the likelihood of wet and shallow subsoil.  Even if it doesn’t rain for weeks and the leaves all turn brown, I am convinced that the aforementioned former canal (which continues to flow through a large pipe beneath the gravel) maintains some level of moisture which disturbs the balance between horizontal and vertical.  If I’d ever studied physics, I’d know what to call this. I suppose “topheavy” will have to do meanwhile.

Lime trees, or linden, have carried sacred significance for millennia for Slavs, Germans, and Greeks.  I respect the leaves’ purported healing properties also.  But I have learned that while it’s a great thing to wander among them at blossomtime, you’d better keep away when the wind rises.

Keeping as close to houses as you can manage, in case any rooftiles decide to join the party.

The firemen had quickly gotten to work removing this fallen giant, which must have been spectacular blocking the entire road.  Happily, the spectacle of damage to humans or houses was nowhere to be seen.

The firemen had quickly gotten to work removing this fallen giant, which must have been spectacular blocking the entire road. Happily, the spectacle of damage to humans or houses was nowhere to be seen.

I don't normally think of the tops of trees as being especially dangerous, but clearly the weight of the tree was enough to smash the clearly frail wooden fence, and not-so-frail stone bench.  That was impressive.

I don’t normally think of the tops of trees as being especially dangerous, but clearly the weight of the tree was enough to smash the frail wooden fence, and not-so-frail stone bench. That was impressive.

For anyone who wanted to read this tree's palm according to the rings, this was the perfect chance.  However, the plant's life story now has no future to predict, except for what happens next...

For anyone who wanted to read this tree’s palm according to the rings, this was the perfect chance. However, the plant’s life story now has no future to predict, except for what happens next…

Off to the mulching mill of Valhalla on Monday.

Off to the mulching mill of Valhalla on Monday.

Later that same day, toward evening, busted-up tree was to be found, in all its leafy glory, a few steps from our hovel.  Were they the same bits, moved to a better pick-up point?  Different bits?  Different tree?  Suddenly dissected trees seemed to be everywhere.  Till even later that evening, when we returned from elsewhere and it was all gone. Perhaps taken somewhere for constructing leafy bowers for Phyllida or the Faerie Queene.

Later that same day, toward evening, busted-up tree was to be found, in all its leafy glory, a few steps from our hovel. Were they the same bits, moved to a better pick-up point? Different bits? Different tree? Suddenly dissected trees seemed to be everywhere. Till even later that evening, when we returned from elsewhere and it was all gone. Perhaps taken somewhere for constructing leafy bowers for Phyllida or the Faerie Queene.

 

 
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Categories : Nature

Comments

  1. Erla…very interesting post. I love the visual of the horses parading….how fascinating. Wouldn’t you love to step back in time for a few minutes and witness that spectacle?
    Regarding the dangers of trees falling and causing damage. I live in the mecca of that form or disaster. We’ve had two gigantic oaks fall on our house. Lucky the damage was minor. But insurance won’t cover the removal of the trees if they are not still ON the house. The last time the tree took off a corner of our roof and bounced off. Quite a feat for a 100 foot oak.

    Our neighbors haven’t fared as well our next door neighbor lost a car….flatten to 18″…narrowly missed their daughter’s bedroom. Another neighbor the entire house…no one was killed….whew. Lastly….one sunny and windy Sunday a neighbor was strolling with her family….wham….gone!!!
    Sigh
    Needless to say….the wind scares the hell outta me!!
    Thanks for letting me rant……lol