the scent of aging stone

Last night I dreamed of Venice. (Three nights ago, I dreamed my dad met the 14th Dalai Lama in a campsite in the Nicola Valley but that’s another story.) In the Venice dream, we were crossing a canal via a small stone and brick bridge. It seemed very potent — the green water, the grey light, the scent of aging stone. I often have very vivid dreams and I think of them as a kind of story-telling, a continuation of the narratives that shape how I live. But last night’s dream had something to tell me. It felt like that. I did a little dream research this morning to find out what bridges and water mean. One source tells me this: Bridges represent a transitional period in your life where you will be moving on to a new stage. If the bridge is over water, then it suggests that your transition will be an emotional one.

Well, the bridge was one we used regularly during the two weeks we spent in Venice in November, 2009. We walked for hours every day, stopping occasionally for small cups of espresso or glasses of prosecco (which cost the same as the coffee and which was just as restorative).

from the dreamI loved everything about those two weeks, which had begun as one, with the idea that we’d travel a little more through that part of Italy before returning to Paris where we’d begun that particular trip and where we’d end it. But after the first week, we decided we simply didn’t want to leave. Couldn’t leave. The production of La Traviata we saw, not in La Scala, but an ancient scuola. The wine bar we went to for simple suppers of pumpkin ravioli and salads of bitter greens. Dim churches filled with sad-eyed Madonnas and the odour of candlewax. The patron of our small pensione and his parrot Piero — Piero quickly learned how to imitate John’s laugh and we’d hear him chuckling in the reception area after we’d gone up to our room, an eerie echo.

Today it’s raining too hard to do any of the garden work that I’ve put off — putting things in the cold-frame and the sunroom, planting the last of the spring bulbs, mulching the garlic bed with bigleaf maple leaves. The house smells of roasted butternut squash from the garden and apples from Spences Bridge, ready for soup. I’m listening to Emmylou Harris singing “Hickory Wind” and thinking about those weeks in Venice. A dream’s symbolism can be complex, perhaps, or maybe it can also be a visual longing. If I close my eyes, I can hear Piero calling Ciao as we walked out for the day and the sound of our feet on the little bridge that took us into the beauty of La Serenissima.

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