Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More muddy treasures

Mud is a tricky little devil. It's like sand at the beach. When you get home, you open your bag, take off your shoes and stand there, stymied and annoyed at how it literally gets everywhere, in spite of your best efforts to keep yourself clean. The comical part about it is now Manuel and a few other friends are (I hope) kidding around that it is actually making their skin and hair softer. Spa Monterosso, with it's world famous mud, from the mountains of Liguria with the minerals of the sea! The ideas keep flowing in, especially as we are all starting to realize how much this is going to cost us. A few months ago, I stumbled on this New York times article that profiles a Ligurian vintner who had the unique idea to age his vermentino and bianchetta sparkling wine under the sea when he was faced with space constrictions in his wine shop. So, he plopped it (carefully) about 200 feet in the Ligurian sea. Our friend Lorenzo, remembering this, suggested we do the same, but in the mud piles around town. We're just waiting for the money to start rolling in...

I can't stress enough how important it is to laugh about things in difficult times - I guess you need to find a sense of humor buried underneath all that mud. We don't have a place to go "all together" so we can sit, chat and blow off some steam, so laughter is, in all cases, the best medicine.

As I've written, we've found a random assortment of stuff along with senses of humor underneath the mud, like Christmas signs, birthday bottles of prosecco, bow and arrows and all the other pictures I've shown. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment when you can save something, no matter how little, out of all this. Occasionally, you find something - like the antique photo the other day- that can be considered a new treasure. A "gift" from the flood. Something as little as that can make your day.

In this respect, I'm on a roll. I dug out this painting at the Bed and Breakfast, in a broken wooden frame, the canvas hanging muddy and limp, but only ripped in one small spot. Certainly worth saving, I thought, though couldn't see the image under the mud covering the entirety of the picture. Thinking it was a childhood art project of Manuel's, I gently rubbed off some of the mud and as I was able to make out more of the picture, I felt like there was something really interesting underneath. I brought it over to Manuel's mom. It was in a pile of broken glass and muddy cardboard which was incredibly unsafe to be rummaging through and would have just been thrown out if I hadn't stumbled onto it. Manuel's mother gasped - it's a picture of Vernazza painted ages ago by her grandfather (Manuel's great grandfather) who was from Vernazza originally. When I return to the U.S. for Thanksgiving, I'm going to have it restored for them.

The history of it made it priceless. More then that, seeing Vernazza again, with it's little harbor and sturdy, happy boats bobbing in an ocean filled with promise, makes this painting even more special for me. It's a reminder of a long past and a beautiful history, one that can be seen again - just by scraping off some pesky mud.


  1. Those literally buried treasures can feel like a gift from heaven. I know it can be heart breaking to sort through this sort of destruction - whether from fire or flood or storm - and each little gem of memories that surfaces can be like finding a jewel. Just remember that no matter what 'stuff' was lost, what is best remains: the love and connection to friends and family. You guys *will* rebuild. There are new memories and connections to be made. As you finish another day, just know that there are folks thinking of you all and wishing you the best.