Friday, February 27, 2009

LIDO, 27 February 2009

It was these narrow bars of sand pushed out by the rivers that made Venice possible, cradeling the lagoon and keeping the Adriatic at bay.

It is clear, with haze over the Lido beaches. By noon the haze evaporates. The sun is hot, the air is cold, like walking in a heated refrigerator.

Beaches, which we think of as static places, are alive, mutable, shaped and reshaped by the wind and tide. Today, the Adriatic is as smooth as a freshly-ironed blue satin bed sheet. It is hard to imagine this gentle surface in a rage, flooding towns and swamping the beaches and pulverizing the stones placed there to contain it, which they do, barely.

The sign says that they are again shoring up the fragile coastline, moving the rocks and sand with claw-beaked tractors. Soon it will be summer and the bare sand will be covered with bare flesh and dogs and beach toys.

A fishing boat mired in diamonds close to the shore hauls in crabs and other crustaceans. To the north, the work proceeds slowly on the gigantic MOSE project designed to save the city from devastating floods. The lines and lines of cabanas, some of which rent for 6,000 euros for the brief 3-month season, are shuttered.

Beach towns everywhere share a common feel; Lido is like Santa Monica and La Jolla in a kaleidoscope blender, stirred not shaken. The pavilion at the foot of Via Sta. Maria Elisabetta always reminds me of Pacific Ocean Park on the Santa Monica/Venice border, now as long gone as my youth.

But today, the bliss is all in the details, the gleam of pink rocks lapped by the waves; the sun shimmering on the water like a sequined net; the bounty of shells and crabs on the beach; the bliss of the hot sun breaking through the cool morning mist.


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