Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not the prettiest catch...

The good old sea cucumber. Looking at this photo it is no wonder Italians have nicknamed these creatures 'sea turds'. On our hunt for signs of sea life this weekend we didn't find much--not a crab, not a fish, but plenty of these not so appealing creatures. As soon as you poke at one with a net it will secrete a milky substance that is both sticky and a mild irritant to the skin (if you look closely at the photo you can see the stuff). For this reason we usually avoid them. But, these guys are slow and therefore an easy catch and the little boy was thrilled about picking one up with his net all on his own. So, we spent spent a little time celebrating the catch before placing him back in the water and only then could we see how quickly sea cucumbers will move if pushed to find a new hiding spot. I have feeling our poor sea cucumbers will be seeing a lot of my son's net this summer as he practices his fishing skills!

A final word on sea cucumbers: apparently they live in most sea waters and move across sea bottoms in large herds. I don't know about you but I find the thought of thousands of these guys moving as a single mass a bit frightening!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life goes on: Itay's flag

Sad and frightening things are happening in the world. But here the sun creates its Sicilian magic, the sea is calm, nothing is out of place, life goes on as always. There are even holidays. Today we celebrate the birth of Italy as a nation, 150 years ago to be exact. Not much patriotism going on around here, but it is hard to ignore the sudden appearance of the green, white and red flags hanging in front of houses and being waved around the piazza by children. And of course our little boy wanted to join in the flag waving. Alas, all pre-fab flags were sold out. We resorted to quickly (can't you tell?) stitching a homemade Italian flag from the fabric scraps we dug up. We also read up on the symbolism of the flag's colors (not even the Italian hubby could tell me the answer without the help of wikipedia). Turns out green is the color of hope, while white and red represent the colors common to many Italian cities pre-unification. While the word hope trigged a moment of thoughtful silence for the adults, the little boy, blissfully ignorant of the world's sad events, continued to happily wave his flag and promptly requested a Chinese one and an American one. I think I'll make a Japanese one, too. If he still has flag fever tomorrow morning I'll definitely be switching from the sloppy sewing to the fabric pens.


So much red and green to be found in our backyard garden this afternoon, couldn't help but snap a few patriotic nature shots.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beautiful Ortigia

As we sped towards Siracusa on Saturday, the gray clouds that hovered over Catania were gradually replaced by gorgeous sunshine and strong winds. The water around the little island of Ortigia was noisy with crashing waves that seemed much more like ocean than sea. But once away from the shore and protected by the tight network of the island's narrow streets there was no wind at all. A great day for wandering around this beautiful town.
The tips of the papyrus plants danced in the wind.
Splashes of color dangling from succulent-filled balconies.
The duomo's ancient foundation: layers of old, newer and newest.

Must come back soon!