the ice capades


This is the point at which the ice and the pavement take opposing views of the situation.

Snow is so simple — it’s what people do with it that makes you wonder about all sorts of things.

The night of the heretofore chronicled snowfall, people walked on the snow; the snow stopped before long, the people went home, and the snow turned to crusty ice where their feet had trod.

While I was debating which was, in fact, more slippery — smooth ice or crimpled-up ice — the merchants of Upper Via Garibaldi had gotten to work on it with shovels and salt.  They opened up a wide bare space in the center, and a narrow bare space stretched along their front doors. Logical, no? There was a stretch of ice, however, that remained between the wide space and the narrow space, which I quickly discovered somewhat obviated the benefit of the bare spots.

I’ll translate that.  You could walk safely along the middle of the street, but if you needed to enter a shop, you had to take your life in your hands and cross a treacherous stretch of ice all the same.

But the best part is this:  The newsstand two-thirds of the way down the street seems to be at a point I never noticed before, what in the lagoon is called a “spartiacque,” or place where the water divides, or rather, where two contrary currents meet.  There is a spartiacque in the Grand Canal, among many other places, a shifting little frontier where the incoming tide from the inlet at Malamocco meets the incoming tide from the inlet at San Nicolo’.  That doesn’t matter to anybody in a motorboat, but if you’re rowing, you notice that you were rowing with the tide, and suddenly you’re rowing against it.

Anyway, the upstream part of via Garibaldi, so to speak, is nothing but shops, so the shopowners obviously made the effort to help their customers to get to them.  The downstream part, as you see, had nobody to care about it.  The few shops there seem to have owners who either have made enough money already this month, so don’t care about business, or decided to take the natural-selection approach to the situation.

I’m attributing all of this activity to the merchants because the trash collectors and salt-sowers have no reason I can imagine to liberate only half of the main street.

But, as I often ask myself, what do I know?

Looking that way, the road is clear.

The other way, it’s just a few steps to the Bering Sea.

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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Andreas Jonsson says:

    Bondì Erla!

    Happy New Year! As my work is now slightly less chaotic after the new year I’m reading up on your blog whising I was in Venice, preferrably in front of a fireplace. 🙂 It really looks beautiful. Even if I’ve been shoveling snow for quite a while, and will be doing it for some moths still, here in Stockholm I still love the snow. The freshness and brightness it brings is a pleasant change in the dark season here in the North.
    I think I saw Lino on another blog. 🙂 Could it be that you were at the blessing of the boats and rowers before la Salute with a Group of rowers from the Morosini Academy, dressed in blue jackets?

  2. Rob C says:

    Wow, it didn’t look like that at Xmas!!
    You need some snow chains for your shoes and don’t forget to walk like a penguin!

    Seriously they have a very low centre of gravity so don’t usually fall on the snow.

  3. Forgive the romantic winsome concept, but I’m trying to convince my wife for a month in Venice, I prefer the winter, she prefers July,
    Allora, we might have to meet in the middle
    *or I just stay for 6, can’t wait for return later this year.
    Thanks Erla,