22 October 2007

A strange thing

Venice is a place of mysteries and secrets, superstitions and ghost stories. Labyrinth-like streets wind around and crisscross, and a shop or bar you enjoyed yesterday cannot be found today. You see your friend ahead in the calle, so you hurry to catch up to him, turn the corner, and find… an empty campo. In the absence of mechanical noise, voices can be heard above you, just behind you, or right beside you when no one is present at all. A route you know very well in daylight becomes confusing and ominous at twilight when all the familiar shop windows are shuttered. Entire buildings can disappear into the mist, or seem to float in it, groundless and ethereal.

In September when the days were still summery, I visited Lido many times. I would walk the beach and search for seashells for a while, then settle down on an old, windworn wooden jetty that stretched out into the sea. This was a makeshift lifeguard post so there was always plenty of lively activity – sunbathers coming and going, children romping in the shallow waves, radio music, laughter and horseplay. Near this post there was a nice, wide platform with little guardrails all around it, and it was very pleasant to be facedown on it with the sun on my back and the sea breeze lifting my hair. I would peek through the spaces between the grey, salt-crusted planks to watch the green water below rushing back and forth.

Beach season is behind us now, which is fine with me. I prefer to visit when the crowds have subsided anyway. Saturday there was a nip in the air, even the threat of rain, so I thought I would go out and sit on the old jetty for a little while, to enjoy the poetic seaside atmosphere in solitude. But…

When I got there, the jetty had vanished. I could not find a trace of it.