Mar
15

Signals of spring

By

One of the many wonderful things about spring is that nobody can start it or stop it.  That’s why the earliest signs are always the most eloquent.  Here’s a glimpse of the past few days, in more or less chronological order:

The fish are returning to the lagoon from their winter spent wherever they go, and one of the first to arrive are the seppie, complete with ink. This was clearly not the destination this seppia had been imagining on his way up the Adriatic.

Another day, another victim. The seppie are coming into the lagoon to spawn. Just after the feast of the Redentore (third Sunday in July), which is the way the Venetians date the event, the eggs hatch, and everybody's out along the fondamente fishing for the baby seppie. Around about the Feast of the Dead ("i morti," Nov. 2), the "fraima" commences, which is the annual migration of the fish out of the lagoon and back to sea. However, a few seem to linger, because in late December there comes a day which is the first really cold day of the winter. I've experienced it several times, it seems to favor St. Stephen's Day, Dec. 26. When the cold hits, it's very likely that some seppie (squatting in somebody's summer home?) come to the surface. If you can stand the cold water, you can even catch them with your hands. They're kind of stunned by the cold.

Another day, another victim. More black drops from an indignant seppia.  The seppie are coming into the lagoon to spawn. Just after the feast of the Redentore (third Sunday in July) — feast days are still a standard measure of time here –the eggs hatch, and everybody’s out along the fondamente fishing for the baby seppie. Around about the Feast of the Dead (“i morti,” Nov. 2), the “fraima” commences, which is the annual migration of the fish out of the lagoon and back to sea. However, a few tend to linger, and in late December there comes the first really cold day of the winter. I’ve experienced it several times; the moment seems to favor St. Stephen’s Day, Dec. 26. When the cold hits, it’s very likely that some seppie who’ve stayed behind (squatting in somebody’s summer home?) drift to the surface. I think they’re stunned by the cold, but I don’t know that for a fact.  I do know that if you can stand the cold water, you can even catch them with your hands.  They move pretty slowly.

I grew up in Ithaca, New York, where it snows from October to April (more or less). At a certain imperceptible signal the city is swathed in forsythia, so of course I took it totally for granted. Now I watch this corner every spring for this burst of glory. It's not nostalgia, exactly. I'd love this even if I'd grown up in Rochester (lilacs).

I grew up in Ithaca, New York, where it snows from October to April (more or less). At a certain imperceptible signal the city is swathed in forsythia, and being young I took it totally for granted and didn’t firmly grasp how thrilling it was. Now that I live in a city not known for any particular flower, I watch this corner every spring for this burst of glory. It’s not nostalgia, exactly. I’d love this even if I’d grown up in Rochester (lilacs).

This plum tree -- specifically "baracocoli" -- is a little behind the blooming curve. Its cousin near the Giardini vaporetto stop is already finished with flowering.

This plum tree — specifically “baracocoli” — is a little behind the blooming curve. Its cousin near the Giardini vaporetto stop is already finished with flowering.

There’s an old saying — which probably means that only old people say it now: “Quando la rosa mete spin, xe bon el go’ e el passarin.” When the rose puts forth its thorns, the go’ and the passarin are good. The two lagoon fish — gobies and European flounder (Gobius ophiocephalus Pallas and Platichthys flesus) — are in season, or starting to be. This rosebush is already on  its way to producing amazing  flowers, and the fish are also going to be excellent.

Peach blossoms from Sicily. Not Venetian but I've only ever seen them here so I'm adding them to the local squadron of spring.

Peach blossoms from Sicily. Not Venetian but I’ve only ever seen them here so I’m adding them to the local squadron of spring.

Fish, check. Flowers, check. And of course the tourists also begin to hatch, bloom, whatever the right word might be. Winter was nice, but now they're baaaaaack.

Fish, check. Flowers, check. And of course the tourists also begin to hatch, bloom, reproduce, whatever the right word might be. Do they also come here to spawn?  Are these early visitors the ones responsible for the millions we see in the summer?

I know it's a free country, but I can never understand why they're HERE. There's virtually nothing in this neighborhood to lure a routist with its siren song. I realize that when the Biennale is open, they spill over into the rest of the world. But now? Are they lost?

I know it’s a free country, but I can never understand why they’re HERE. There’s virtually nothing in this neighborhood to lure a tourist with its siren song. When the Biennale is open, they inevitably spill over into the rest of the area. But now? Are they lost?

IMG_0776 blog spring

Easter is imminent, and as predictably as the seppie or the much-sung swallows of Capistrano, the window of Mascari becomes an orgy of chocolate eggs. You see this and you cannot deny that all is right, if not with the world, at least with this window.

 

 

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Categories : Nature

Comments

  1. Deb says:

    I’m a diehard Ventophile who stumbled across your blog a few months ago and I have been following it ever since.

    I enjoyed this latest post, with its promise of spring. I was thinking about Easter in Europe only yesterday. In my experience, Europe always celebrates Easter far more spectacularly than does the States.

    What really caught my eye, however was first the colorful photo of the forsythia and then your comment that you grew up in Ithaca! I grew up in Ithaca and moved back here to take care of an elderly parent 11 years ago. I am looking forward to our forsythia hedge bursting into bloom almost as much as I am anticipating my next trip to Venice.

  2. Chris O says:

    I realize there are way too many tourists in Venice. But an ex-pat who writes a blog on the city should surely understand why tourists would be attracted to her real Venetian neighborhood. Venice itself is seductive and magical. The “attractions” are besides the point.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Interesting. After one has seen hundreds of thousands of people taking selfies around this seductive and magical city, you do begin to wonder what they might be responding to.

      • Deb says:

        As a “sometimes paid for my photos” photographer, I totally understand the appeal of going off the beaten track and into the real Venice, as the couple in your photo seem to have done. I certainly have the bog standard shots of St. Mark’s Square and gondolas but I am much more drawn to the quiet calles and campos for shooting.

        As for selfies, that is another matter. People with their selfie sticks drive me crazy. I get the one-off selfie in front of a famous building, but I don’t understand the hordes who walk around with the sticks permanently attached to their hands like a third arm. I want to rip the selfie sticks out of their hands, spin them around and say, “LOOK, Look and take it in. You probably paid a lot of money to get here and you are missing the whole point of being here!”

        I am also bemused by selfie stick vendors who come up to me on the street trying to sell me their wares when I already have some serious camera equipment hanging around my neck.

        • Marsha says:

          Right? In Paris last my visit to Notre Dame was swamped with tourists leaving selfie sticks around or apparently serving as legs for iPads to record things. Italy was somewhat better. I don’t understand it. When I travel I travel to experience not to photograph and certainly not to blog. None of these is bad in and of itself, but good grief! when you’re in a beautiful place look around, look up, put the electronics down!

          • Marsha says:

            Sigh. Waving selfie sticks.

          • Erla Zwingle says:

            Perplexity and revulsion reigns. (These are also becoming risks to your life, as we continue to hear of fatal accidents occurring in the selfie-process.) It’s a new toy, — I get that. Toys are fun. People have have always wanted at least one picture of themselves at certain important sites in their vacation, I get that too. But there’s a difference between “Excuse me, would you mind taking our picture?…..” and turning yourself into the star of every moment of your trip. This must be a natural evolution in the world of social media, which has deformed and exaggerated our relationships not only with people, but with ourselves. Other people have long since realized that not everything you do is interesting, but you (selfie-stick-person) haven’t got the memo. The point appears to be, not the picture, but simply taking the picture. As I said: Toy.

          • A.Jonsson says:

            One of my junior colleagues recently informed me that selfie sticks were actually designed for people over 40 to facilitate reading of text messages without straining their arms. It was hopefully intended as a joke, bu on second thought it seem like the only meaningful use for them.

  3. A.Jonsson says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful glimpse of Venetian life. I do miss Venice a lot, especially the quiet streets in Castello and San Pietro. The place in Corte Bianco I rented a couple of times had just the quiet charm that I love. The bridge may not look much to an indigenous Venetian but for the rest of us it surely has it’s charm too.
    I hope that I someday can retire in Venice and for a short while we were almost neighbours, but now I’ve learned a thing or two about the Italian process of acquiringproperty. Now I’m only watching from afar, and hoping that maybe someday…

  4. Caterina B says:

    Ouch. But I don’t know why I said that. I don’t have a cell phone and certainly don’t even want one. The truth is, we have no cell service out here in the country. I really
    do get so tired of seeing people in town just looking and their hand and poking the something there with a finger and never looking up. Boy, I hope my three kids don’t do that when they’re out in public. I think I’ll ask them.
    But, yes, being in Venice would prompt at least one or two, I hesitate to type the word, “selfies.” For me, I would just want to ask a kind soul to snap us a photo.

    Signs of Spring are wonderful. I saw and heard sing the first red winged blackbird over two weeks ago. That is very early here. The grass is greening, the tulips are coming up and, to my happy delight, I heard wrens singing their sweetest song today. They don’t stay long enough for me. After mating, and hatching their young they disappear.Soon the hummingbirds will arrive from Mexico. They come earlier and earlier. Who says there is no climate change?

  5. A.Jonsson says:

    Beautiful pictures, Erla! I really appreciate your glimpses of Venetian everyday life. Waiting for a delayed commuter-train in a cold and grey Stockholm really makes me want to just come to Venice again.
    Cheers!

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I’m glad that pictures of spring in Venice make you happy. But take heart — spring will come to Stockholm too (eventually, as soon as we’re finished with it). And I’m sure it will be beautiful there too.

  6. Paola says:

    Hi,
    just discovered your blog…unfortunately just after my last trip to Venice, last week.
    But I enjoyed it as always, I will follow you to have a glimpse on the city!