Jun
08

Springing and summering along

By

 

For the past few days there have been extremely low tides, June being the second period in the year (after January) in which this phenomenon occurs.  As normal as it may be, I always feel strangely happy to see the underpinnings of the lagoon as such close quarters.

For the past few days there have been extremely low tides, June being the second period in the year (after January) in which this phenomenon occurs. All this area would normally be covered with water, to some depth, however modest. While it doesn’t surprise me anymore, I still feel strangely happy to see the underpinnings of the lagoon as such close quarters.

The next morning we rowed along the edge of this exposed prairie.  I noticed a yellow motorboat sitting definitively on the ground; its owner, somewhere nearby, was obviously counting on having lots of time to dig clams before the tide came to float his boat away.

We rowed along the edge of this exposed prairie. I noticed a yellow motorboat sitting definitively on the ground; its owner, somewhere nearby, was obviously counting on having plenty of time to dig clams before the tide came to float his boat away.

The next morning we rowed along the edge of the huge prairie, in the middle of which a yellow motorboat was definitively sitting.  Its owner was obviously counting on having plenty of time to dig clams before the tide rose enough to float him away.

As you see.

Next Sunday Venetians will go to the polls to vote in a runoff election for the new mayor.  Yes, a year has passed since the Good Ship Venice ran aground and was put under a temporary administrator who managed to get her off the rocks and pump the bilge, but who had no power to plot the new course.

Whichever of the two candidates wins will then proceed to dive — a graceful swan? armstand back 3 somersault 2 1/2 twist tuck? — into a mar di lacrime, or “sea of tears,” as they put it here.  To continue the liquidy metaphor, our brains have been soaked in campaign promises, which, now that I think of it, would be a good way to learn some basic Italian.  The phrases are so simple, and so repetitive.

Washing one’s brain has one good thing about it — it might remove the mental stains splattered by the politicians in the course of what they consider a typical day.  An example: Giancarlo Galan, former governor of the Veneto Region, has spent much of the past year on house arrest for taking bribes and other forms of corruption, jail time served in his luxurious villa on the mainland.  Does he feel remorse? Certainly he would feel it if he thought he’d done anything wrong.  But as he doesn’t, he’s ready to return to Parliament as soon as his stint is finished.  Yes: Convicted felons get to go back to work for the government.

My only defense is to run away.  I flee to the lagoon and I make no apology.  Technically, the season is still spring, but the sun wants to get going on summer right away and has made an excellent start.  Temperatures in the low nineties (F) or low thirties (C).  Hot, by any scale.  Breeze.  No clouds.  Dream weather for going to the beach or — my personal favorite, as everyone knows — drying laundry.

It’s also ideal weather for fleeing.  Here are some things I’ve noticed over the past week or so.

Low tide makes hunting for canestrelli, or scallops, somewhat easier, even though they are extremely well camouflaged by a shell color which totally mimics the sandy bottom.  Lino managed a tidy little haul, which he proceeded to bread and fry the same evening.  Delectable.

Low tide makes hunting for canestrelli, or scallops (Aequipecten opercularis) relatively easy, even though they are extremely well camouflaged by a shell color which totally mimics the sandy  bottom. Lino managed a tidy little haul, which he proceeded to bread and fry the same evening. Delectable.

An inch of water is enough to keep the eelgrass moving in one direction with the falling tide, like tresses of some wort.  And a few denizens appear on the surface, like this tiny crab.  Crabs are a good sign; where there are crabs, there will also be plenty of other fish who nosh on them.  When you pull in a net, it's normal to see some half-gnawed little crabs.  and if you go fishing for eels, soft-shell crabs ("moeche") are the perfect bait.

An inch of water is enough to keep the eelgrass moving in one direction with the tide, like tresses. And a few denizens appear on the surface, like this tiny crab. Crabs are a good sign; where there are crabs, there will also be plenty of fish who nosh on them. When you pull in a net, it’s normal to see some half-gnawed crabs. and if you go fishing for eels, soft-shell crabs (“moeche”) are the perfect bait.

Unhappily, this female moeca is now defunct, awaiting either some adventurous nosher, or mere disintegration.

Unhappily, this female moeca is now defunct, awaiting either some adventurous nosher or mere disintegration.

We pulled our boat onto the dryish grassland to investigate what appear to be megaliths (or miniliths) from the Evora complex, but which we knew were exposed fan mussels (Pinna nobilis).

A good example; they burrow in the sediment and open their shells slightly to consume whatever food might have come by.

A good example; they burrow in the sediment and open their shells slightly to consume whatever food might drift by.

What really intrigued me, though, were the few mounds of spongy material here and there.  Lino knew immediately that they were the eggs of sea snails ("garusoli," or "noni").  And this mound was far from dormant.  Most of the creatures were showing some signs of life, and one was atop the mound, evidently laying more.

What really intrigued me, though, were the several mounds of spongy material here and there. Lino knew immediately that they were the eggs of sea snails (“garusoli,” or “noni”). And this mound was far from dormant. Most of the creatures were showing some signs of life, and one was atop the mound, evidently laying more.

As you may perhaps see here.

As you may perhaps see here.

There's even a fan mussel nearby.  I don't see that it can be much use, but maybe it's waiting to eat something.  Nature, red in tooth and shell.

There’s even a fan mussel nearby. I don’t see that it can be much use, but maybe it’s waiting to eat something. Nature, red in tooth and shell.

The rising tide approaches, beginning to submerge all these wonders.

The rising tide approaches, beginning to submerge all these wonders.

And has begun to lift our boat.  Time to continue on our trip to Sant' Erasmo to buy vegetables.

And has begun to lift our boat. Time to continue on our trip to Sant’ Erasmo to buy vegetables and check the progress of the season ashore.

For one brief interlude, the tamarisks, artichokes and poppies were all in bloom.

For one brief interlude, the tamarisks, artichokes and poppies were all in bloom.

Although tamarisks produce what may be the least interesting flowers yet, they do have their own strange appeal.  Especially when they begin to dry up and blow away, covering the nearby water with pale beige mats of old blossom.

Although tamarisks produce what may be among the least interesting flowers, they do have their own strange appeal. Especially when they begin to dry up and blow away, covering the nearby water with pale beige mats of old blossom.

This is a small tree producing the even smaller plum known locally as “suchete.” For reasons I can’t explain, the Venetian word for zucchine is also “suchete.” Be careful when you’re looking up recipes.

A chickens and her chicks.  What could be more springlike than this?

A chicken and her chicks. What could be more springlike than this?

Unless it's the duckling next door.

Unless it’s the duckling next door.

Here's to blossoming everything.

Here’s to blossoming everything.

 

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Categories : Nature

Comments

  1. Cherie Greene says:

    So glad you shared these amazing pictures.