Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rowing on the Lagoon at Sunset: August in Venice

photo credit: Jen
Venice in August may not be a particularly great place for visitors--crowds are large, many shops are closed--but in a few ways it's not so bad for residents. For one thing, because most other residents of Venice leave town in August, a resident who remains here finds him- or herself--without the hassle or expense of travel--on something of a vacation at home. Things quiet down in the residential neighborhoods. The playgrounds and even the beach are less packed. In fact, after enough people you know leave town you find yourself leading a life quite different than the one you lead the other 11 months of the year: less busy, less social, more relaxed. Your own home comes to seem rather like some isolated cabin in the mountains, your neighborhood like some strange sparsely inhabited village. Without your usual social circle around, you find yourself thrown back upon your own devices, engaged in new interests or intensifying old ones--just as if you'd ventured to some far-off locale.

Suddenly we've acquired a menagerie: two goldfish and four turtles, which we're baby-sitting while their owners are away.

And at this time my remiera, where some two or three or more members are usually coming or going in its boats throughout the year, feels almost like a private garage. When Sandro and I went to row last Friday evening the register showed that not a single other member had signed out a boat that day. And out on the lagoon one rarely sees another boat of vogatori (rowers). Even the agonisti or competitive rowers who engage in the regatte--those top-flight rowers who train every day through the bone-chill of winter--take a break.

Two and a half months of heat and virtually no rain have taken their toll: even the bumptious cicadas filling the trees of Sant' Elena--domineering as the sun through June and July--have subsided to a thin stream of desultory chatter, worn down.

Floating on the lagoon after dinner seems the perfect place to end such lethargic days. We try to get out on it at least three or four times a week.

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