Summer holiday vignettes

Invitation to a Dance

The sky was slowly clearing after a violent thunderstorm. The evening sun illuminated wispy trails of clouds while the waves still spat up high against the walls of the little harbour. People started to  come out again, walking cautiously on the wet pier. 

Fragments of a wistful music came drifting from the other side of the harbour, from a little castle with flickering lights in the windows – the quivering lights & music both evoking a ballroom of a bygone era. 

Drawn by the music we walked up there, hesitantly entering the building, at first dazzled by the radiant lustre of a scintillating chandelier.   On the ground floor there was a posh restaurant with a  magnificent view over the lake. But the bewitching music (an Italian operatic voice with a creaky orchestral accompaniment, all reminiscent of very old gramophone music) came from higher up.

We mounted the stairs in the impressive hallway – with dark ancient paintings on the walls barely illuminated by shimmering wall lights.  Upon closer inspection all were in various states of decrepitude – a layer of dust on the paintings’ frames, little black spiders guarding intricate webs around the light fixtures.

On the first floor we were met with a jumble of black umbrellas and various pairs of shoes and sporting bags.  Some people were sitting on a bench in the corridor, others standing in the door-opening of the room whence the music came.  

 A man was carefully tying the laces of a pair of beautiful white & brown leather dancing shoes, a woman was moving her head to the music  – all in an atmosphere of keen expectation and longing.    
We at last managed a peek into the room – couples were waltzing on a gleaming parquet, enveloped by the pathos of that ancient Italian voice, intensely immersed in each other and in their dance.     

Reflections in a Painted Pond

I’ve come a long way – from a purely indoors kind of person shunning all wind & sun to someone enjoying walking & cycling through vales & woods.   The enchanting fleetingness of absent minded movement & exercise.  The thoughtless abandon to the manifold manifestations of nature.

But nothing compares to the sense of homecoming, when I can leave the hustle & bustle of the real world behind, and can enter a museum, however small and musty, so benevolently dark and still in the summer heat.  

My mind & heart always perk up, intently gazing at old pictures, re-imagining what someone long ago strove to represent, with such elaborate skill and understanding.

And so I can marvel, after for instance a sweaty cycling tour on the shores of lake Constanz, at a small Flemish School painting of the Rest on the Flight to Egypt where Joseph  lets his donkey drink from a little river meandering though hazy greyish-green woods.

And so I can marvel, after for instance a walk through the Antwerp countryside, at a painting of an oblivious Orpheus enchanting exotic animals with his music.

 And so I can gaze at the meticulously painted water plants of a pond – my own reflection feeling quite at home in this imagined aqeuous habitat.

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