No, I didn’t use any Photoshop trickery. I didn’t take away or add anything to the picture above. No fading, no playing with exposure, no flicking of the temperature dials.
As a matter of fact, it is a straight-from-the-camera snapshot perfectly capturing how I saw Lake Garda a couple of days ago.
It was a strange sensation.
Stood on the promenade, which follows the gentle outline of the lake, all I could see ahead of me was calm white water under a white sky. The sun, hidden behind a thick layer of white mist, was nevertheless shining bright and through the hazy veil it looked like an angry splat in the sky.
It was all so calm with the Christmas fair in Bardolino on one side lulled into the quiet hours of the extended Italian lunch break and the marina with its gaggle of moored yachts to my right.
Ducks floated in the waters, so clear that I could see the pebbly lake bed for metres ahead. A young swan royally passed by.
Italy is famous with its light. I remember the first time that I visited Florence, suddenly I had this overwhelming visual understanding as to why and how Italian painters became the masters that they are. With a light which beautifully flows down on Earth from a perfectly blue sky, highlighting every single detail and bringing into focus the symmetrical outlines of architecture and countryside, who wouldn’t be inspired to take a brush in their hands and try to recreate it all?!
No matter how hot the days were and how bright the light streaming from the sky above was, it never seared my eyes, it never blinded me cruelly. Instead, it inspired me to keep discovering the beauty of Florence and admire its art.
It wasn’t like this on that afternoon only a couple of days ago. The light’s purpose, it seemed, was not to paint. Instead of bringing forward the greens of the trees lining up the promenade and the blues of the waters of the vast lake, the sun sought to wipe it all, to blend it all into one, to bleach it all down to pure white light.
Several times, its strength forced me to stop, shield my eyes and rub them gently trying to bring them back to see beyond bleached outlines.
After a few excruciating minutes of walking straight into the bright white light, the promenade made a small curve and changed its angle in relation to the sun. Suddenly and through the black concentric circles swimming right in front of my eyes I could see a spot of colour again.
The rectangular flags of different countries were gently flapping in the wind. Colourful boats stood anchored in the shallows.
A small ice skating rink had been erected for the duration of the holiday season on the other side of the wharf. Its surface was white and reflective, reminiscent of the white waters of the lake under the cruel misty sun.
Back on the promenade, I thought a little bit about life. How immense it feels, just like the boundless expanse in front of my eyes. Yet, we rarely can see more than a few metres ahead of us. We rarely know what is going to happen and what exactly to expect.
We notice the little pebbles on the lake bed, marking difficulties we need to overcome, aspirations we battle to achieve, expectations we live under the weight of and memorable events we try to never forget. Yet, we don’t know what hides beyond all that as it is covered by the increasingly deeper waters.
The sun which warms us up and guides us ahead, often doesn’t let us advance beyond our own limitations and selves, by shining bright straight into our eyes, cruelly causing us pain and hiding in plain view our path.
Sometimes, the only way to find ourselves again is to turn our back to the sun and to give our eyes a moment of respite. Only then the colours of the surrounding landscape can start manifesting themselves again and we can fully see what’s around us and, potentially, find the vehicle which can propel us ahead.
Then, it is finally time to leave our comfortable little bench, dive in and start living life again.