This is the view I have every morning when I drink my coffee. It makes me glow inside and gives the day a good start.
It’s a view with so many stories. There’s the little table where we have lunch when it isn’t hot and say “kalimera” to people walking by. Then there’s the white petunias that Rita gave me before she left because she knows I like flowers so much. And the airplane plant in the hanging basket is from a cutting Connie gave me the summer she was into propagation and rooting away. I love the orange of Angeliki’s trumpet vine but I like her apricot tree even more because every summer she climbs on the roof to pick the apricots to make jam (and gives us a jar!). We could never have a regular screen door otherwise Volver, our cat, couldn’t go in and out as he pleases. Sometimes he naps in one of the chairs after biting at the lemon grass or sits on the wall so that, if they happen to walk by, sight-seeing tourists can photograph him. There’s often a beach towel or two draped on the chairs indicating we’ve been to the beach. Everything I see is talking.
This view is a book of short stories just waiting to be read.
Above is a photo I took many many years ago on the island of Giglio (Tuscany). Seemingly incongruous, those three doors next to each other struck me as some kind of philosophical statement. Although each one was different in height, color, and design, their purpose was the same. Like people. Despite our divergences, we are all related. We are all equals.
A few days ago we rented a scooter and went to Naoussa to eat fish. Like a senior’s version of Born to be Wild, we were just looking for adventure and whatever came our way. Happy, I wanted to immortalize the moment and, using my tired little Canon, starting clicking away (which wasn’t always easy especially on the curves).
There is no artistic merit in these fotos. Nevertheless, the aesthetics are there—the Aesthetics of Appreciation.
The current day political situation along with the worldwide inability to handle the pandemic fills me with negative vibes. Sometimes it’s a struggle to smile. To keep from wearing a perpetual frown, I must re-direct my focus. These fotos are a helpful reminder that I’m lucky and should know it.
Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938) was a prominent Italian poet who thrived on decadence. During WWI he achieved fame for having seized the city of Fiume (present day Croatia) in an attempt to set up an independent state. More of a Fascist than Mussolini himself, D’Annunzio assumed the role of dictator there until an embarrassed Italian government forced him to abdicate. So, for the Wanna Be Dictator, it was back to writing poetry.
I’ve never been a D’Annunzio fan and only write about him now thanks to a tamarisk. My Man and I often take evening walks and sometimes sit on a bench facing the sea just to sit and face the sea. Dividing the beach from the road is a line of tamarisks. We were sitting there in silence when My Man, after staring at the nearby tamarisk for some time, started reciting from one of D’Annunzio’s well-known poems, “La pioggia nel Pineto” (“The Rain in the Pinewood”). D’Annunzio writes of “le tamerici salmastre ed arse” (“the briny and burnt tamarisks”) that are covered with rain. The poet describes how, after weeks of unbearable heat, the rain brings solace and awakens the senses. The poet is walking with his lover, Ermione (pseudonym of the actress Eleonora Duse) when it begins to rain. He tells her to be quiet so that they can hear the variety of sounds the rain makes as it falls on the world around them. Listen, he says, because the rain that falls on naked hands renews the soul.
Well it wasn’t raining and My Man and I weren’t in a pinewood. Nevertheless, I could feel that just sitting on that little bench next to a tamarisk with someone I loved letting nature caress us was a poem in itself.
Related: “La pioggia nel Pineto” by D’Annunzio with English translation HERE
When we got here, our bougainvillea was out of control. I started trimming it very politely but my neighbour kept saying “Cut! cut! cut!” so I did.
I consulted the Royal Horticultural Society’s book on pruning. It’s almost a book of logic with information like: get rid of the old to make room for the new, cut branches growing in one direction to encourage growth in another, the way you cut affects the cut, etc.
So I would cut some then sit down to observe the plant’s “bone structure” before cutting some more. Having to clip with care was a very Zen experience.
Recently I read about neuroplasticity and neural pruning. The density of dendrites (from the Greek “δέντρο” meaning “tree”) grows significantly during infancy but diminishes during adolescence. Experiences will strengthen those neural circuits apparently most relevant whereas others will just fade away. Synaptic pruning aims at eliminating démodé synapses because removing weaker structures will give more resources to those remaining. But sometimes this pruning goes amiss causing neurological disorders such as schizophrenia.
And knowing this, I am pruning with the bougainvillea’s mental health in mind.
Originally posted on Soul Food Bumper Catalogue of Creativity: Named one of the 101 best Writing Web Sites by Writer’s Digest, SOUL FOOD CAFE provides inspiration for writers and artists to make creative work a daily practice. The editors hope…