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Christmas cheer

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1x1.trans Christmas cheer

Yes, I have returned to my mooring here and have been grappling with the holiday trappings — more mental than physical.  Translation: I just haven’t felt like doing or writing or thinking anything, really.

But the ghosts of Calvinists Past have reared up and made harrowing threats if I continue to indulge this revolting lethargy.  And I always respond to harrowing threats, in case you ever need to know.  Hideous predictions about the afterlife usually do the trick.

In any case, Christmas in our lobe of Venice this year is so low-key that it’s hardly noticeable.  The atmosphere in the city as a whole is so far from festive that I’m not going to go into it at all.  But I don’t need lights and spangles to know that it’s just about show time.

We will do the traditional Christmas food and possibly the traditional staying-up-late, though that’s becoming more optional as the years go by.  Then we will go to the mountains for the New Year phase.

And then we’ll all be back here together, not making it up.

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

The Nativity scene at the F. Morosini Naval School has once again focused on the lagoon. The innovations here are the starfish as stars (no surprise there), and the comet’s tail is the shell of a pinna nobilis (fan mussel) painted gold. The cradle for the still-in-transit Baby Jesus is a clamshell. It looks pretty comfortable, at least to me.

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

One creche (or presepe, as it’s called here) isn’t enough at the Naval School, where the chaplain and cadets put heart, soul and all sorts of useful bric-a-brac into their scenes. The lifebuoy adds a touch of metaphor to the arrangement. As is usual, the figure of the Bambin Gesu’ is only installed on Christmas Day.

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

The woman in command of this family was getting everything ready a week early, from underwear to reindeer.

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

This curious but strangely appealing effort at spreading holiday cheer didn’t last long. An hour later they were gone. Why?  Were this in contravention of some municipal ordinance? Or did the family suddenly discover that it really needed these three balls inside?

1x1.trans Christmas cheer

Humans are preparing to gorge themselves over the next few days, but a little egret (Egretta garzetta) has already started noshing. The vaporetto dock is an excellent place to spear anguele (Atherina boyeri).  When the birds are happy, I’m happy.  I wonder if they’d like some panettone, we’ve got three of them already.  It’ll take me till Candlemas to finish them if nobody helps me.


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Brief bulletin

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The silence in not-making-it-up-land is because I am in the US for a month of my annual R&R.

I brought a folder of clippings with me, all excellent post material (that is, excellent material — I have no idea if the resulting posts would have been excellent).  I may or may not get to them because it’s astonishing how little I think of Venice when I’m back on my native heath.   It’s extremely relaxing, kind of like being in a mental thermal pool.

I shall return, of course.




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The Zen of ice cream?

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1x1.trans The Zen of ice cream?

“The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading men to philosophy.” (Bertrand Russell)

Walking along my favorite leafy arbor — otherwise known as viale Garibaldi — one recent afternoon, I glanced at one of the benches.

Something was sitting on it, and it wasn’t a human, though a human had evidently passed that way only recently.

It was a stately cone crowned with chocolate gelato, chastely wrapped in a white paper napkin, and stuck between the slats like a creamy little moa from Easter Island, but much more fragile. While it’s true that the seething elements of time and tide will eventually reduce everything to nothing, this delicacy had a head start on almost all of us.

As I gazed at it, still musing, I heard the softest little thnk.

There had been no heroic struggle.  When the meltage reached the perfect point of intersection with gravity, divided by its own weight and volume and the distribution of same (I’m losing track of my geometry here), the brave, if brief, little monument succumbed.  And I continued on my way.

1x1.trans The Zen of ice cream?

Something had given way. Was it the cone? The napkin? A physicist or a mystic could probably tell me, but as I know neither, I can only gaze upon this ruin with wonder and regret. Wonder, especially, that someone would throw away a perfectly good ice cream cone, and chocolate, at that.

Ten minutes later, I returned.  The bench was still occupied, but not by the cone and its liquefying burden.

The cone was gone.  A man was sitting on the bench, talking to a woman standing in front of him.  He didn’t seem concerned about sticky drying ice cream, because there was no sign of it.  Apparently only I knew it had ever been there.

Let me review:  A gelato-topped cone is placed on a bench by an unseen person, for unfathomable reasons (unfathomable because there are two garbage cans within a few steps of the bench).  The cone collapses.  A man sits on the bench by the now unseen cone.

Which was real, the unseen man or the unseen cone?  And while I’m thinking about it, is ice cream essentially more transitory than the man?

Let me think.

The frozen milk awaits

Heat and heft combine a kiss

Life essence disperses.

More on the meaning of life around here when I find the time.


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Elaine Stritch postscript

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Once again, I forgot that the e-mail version of my blog doesn’t give the YouTube clip itself.

Here’s “I’m Still Here.”  You tell me if it makes you think of Venice somehow.  Even just a little.


1x1.trans Elaine Stritch postscript
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