No, Kilauea Volcano is NOT menacing me!

Dear friends and family,

It’s wonderful that you are so concerned about my welfare during this latest volcano outbreak. But I’m on the Big Island. It’s called that for a reason – it’s big. As of May 26, about four square miles of residential land has been covered by new lava, on an island that is 4028 square miles. And I live on the north end of Hawaiʻi while Kilauea is in the south, three hours away.

Let’s look at a map. This is the official map showing the different volcanic activity zones on Hawaiʻi (which is the actual name of the Big Island, but we call it the Big Island because it helps people not confuse us with Oahu. Everyone thinks Oahu is Hawaiʻi because that is where Honolulu is – the center of the Universe as far as those on Oahu are concerned. The rest of us are just the “Neighbor Islands.” But actually, the island of Hawaiʻi was the center of the Universe in the days of King Kamehameha. Sorry, I had to get that rant out.)

Back to the map. It is divided into nine zones, with Zone 1 being the most likely to have a volcanic incident (as is happening today) and Zone 9 being the least likely. I live in Zone 8.

It’s been interesting to see our story being covered by every major news outlet, every day for three weeks. The BBC led off with the volcano for several days. But even they got things wrong. They talk about Hawaiʻi as having five active volcanoes. No. We have one extinct volcano (Kohala, the one on the north end of the island), one dormant (Mauna Kea, last erupted 3600 years ago), and three active volcanoes. Hualālai in the west looms over Kona. It last erupted in 1800-1801. When it goes off again, it will certainly affect Kona.

The second, Mauna Loa, is in the middle-south. It is the largest mountain on earth and is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It last erupted in 1984, though lately it has again been showing signs of unrest. Hilo sits on Mauna Loa’s eastern flanks and has had its share of excitement from past lava flows, with the 1984 flow coming within 4.5 miles of the city.

Art about Pele at Jaggar Museum

The third active volcano is the one that has everybody agitated or nonplussed depending on your point of view. Kilauea, on Mauna Loa’s southern flank, has been “erupting” every day since 1983. It sits inside the Volcanoes National Park, which is now closed due to the volcanic activity. Hawaiian culture reveres Pele, the source of the fire in the volcano. In fact, the Hawaiian word for lava is pele.

Hawaii volcanoes are shield volcanoes: very broad with gentle slopes. When the lava decides to move, it (usually) flows slowly enough for people to get out of the way. This is in contrast to stratovolcanoes like Mt. St. Helens which erupt violently in a pyroclastic flow rather than with a flow of lava. A third kind is a dome volcano.

The current situation has two sources of excitement. The fissures in Leilani Estates (latest count is 24), and Kilauea’s summit crater, Halmaʻumaʻu. The fissures or vents are creating the fountains of lava, some hundreds of feet in the air. Since this subdivision is situated on the flanks of the volcano, the lava is also creeping downhill, engulfing cars, houses, roads and anything else in the way. That is a highly local phenomenon, affecting only the immediate area around them. So, no, I cannot see the lava fountains.

The vents are producing sulfur dioxide, the poisonous gas the media is discussing. Yes, the gas is harmful to humans which is why people are using gas masks. It has also killed nearby vegetation that has managed to escape being burned or covered by the vent lava. But again, it’s a local event; I do not need to wear a gas mask. And while some communities farther away from the volcano have smelled the rotten egg odor, Honokaʻa is largely immune from these smells and even vog (volcanic fog or volcanic smog), because the trade winds blow them away from our part of the island.

The Kilauea summit provides more interesting possibilities for far-reaching effects. When it started putting out plumes, my friends again asked, “Are you okay?” Yes. I cannot see the smoke. I cannot feel the acid rain. I cannot see the ash or the refrigerator-sized boulders being hurtled. I cannot hear the constant booms coming from the volcano and the vents. And no, I am not breathing the laze (or lava haze) now that the lava has oozed it’s way to the ocean. I have felt one earthquake out of the thousands that have occurred since May 3. When the news reports that “residents have been asked to evacuate,” they do not mean me or most of the people on this island.

What I and everyone else on the island ARE doing is sending supplies and food to the people who have been displaced from Leilani Estates and adjacent areas. Some have lost their homes to the lava and are starting over from scratch.

Meanwhile, most of the island has not been affected. The skies in Waimea and Honoka’a are so intensely blue (when it’s not raining) that they almost hurts the eyes, with layers of fluffy cloud in front. People tend to their business, go to church and the post office, care for their horses, cows, and goats, buy groceries, cut the grass, pick up their kids from school. Here in Honokaʻa, I enjoy a clear view of the ocean from my yard and we are all abuzz with Western Week. Everything is normal.

Photos from my yard this week

Life goes on, except for the sudden drop in tourism, up to a 50% projected for the summer season. This is silly. Now is a perfect time to visit the Big Island. Flights are extra cheap at the moment. Come on over! Aloha.

Resources:

From one location one can see: top- Mauna Kea, middle- Mauna Loa, bottom- Hualalai

Note I have tried to add references for the photos I did not take myself. But social media does not always make it easy to trace back to the original photographers.

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book, Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

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Posted in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, lava, Pele, volcano | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Tattoo Parlor and a New Life

Well, I’m doing it – starting life over again with a new freedom, a new independence, and by myself. It’s another new chapter in my life. My close friends say it’s a whole new book. We’ll see.

My daughters have been very supportive, encouraging me in my tentative first steps, and even doing some mother-daughter bonding over new ear piercings when they were home in April.

My original earring holes closed up some twenty years ago when I stopped wearing earrings. My younger daughter, who has completely filled her ears with hardware, was thrilled to guide me. “Don’t have it done with a piercing gun at the mall. The recommended method is needle piercing.” Who knew? So I checked online and found many articles, including one from Good Housekeeping! I was definitely behind the times on this issue.

She had planned to get yet another ear piercing while on island, so I let her do the research on where to go, and I just tagged along. I had no idea this meant going to a tattoo parlor! The posters alone were an entirely new curriculum. Oh my!

I was a bit uneasy as I walked to a room at the back of the shop, escorted by a heavily tattooed man. Turns out he was the parlor owner, a man with 20 years of experience with tattoo artistry and body piercing.

I settled into the plastic wrapped chair and put my lobes into his capable hands. I shivered a bit as he wiped my ears with alcohol, marked the new holes, had me check them, and then came at me with a needle. “Deep breath,” he suggested. That’s all I had to hear for my multi-decade yoga training to come to my rescue once again. It still hurt, but not as much as without the breathing, nor as much as the gun decades ago. And with the needle method, I got hoops – much more comfortable than sleeping with studs.

Meanwhile, I’m letting the lessons of the body piercing sink in. Take risks. Learn new things. Use my tools. Be okay with letting my children help/teach me. Expect surprise and delight. Most of these lessons are familiar friends. I expect they will continue to shape and guide me in my next chapter.

Wish me luck on my new life. I’ll attack it like I have all of my life changes – with my transformation toolkit:

  • Be grateful.
  • Choose my attitude/think positively.
  • Be present / cultivate mindfulness.
  • Get out of my comfort zone.
  • Live life full out.
  • Trust – Ask – Accept with gratitude.
  • Self-care. And many others.

Here’s to a new life and new opportunities. With the support of family and friends, I’m ready to start over.

 

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book, Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in Being present, daughters, getting out of my comfort zone, gratitude, life choices, living full out, Mother-daughter bonding, Personal growth, Positive Thinking/Choose Your Attitude, self care, Trust-Ask-Accept with Gratitude | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Translating yoga into surfing

When I got back from Murano, the thing I most wanted to do was yoga with my nurturing teacher, Anita. It felt so good to be back, focusing on form, breathing, and the meditation that comes with Shavasana. Despite my efforts to focus, I drifted off, thinking back to my first time surfing, and it’s connection to my favorite form of meditation and exercise – yoga. It inspired me to share an excerpt from my book, Manifesting Paradise:

December 22, 2011.  This year we popped over to Maui for a few days during the girls’ holiday break. It’s just one island over – inexpensive as Hawai‘i vacations go. The girls wanted surfing lessons as their Christmas gift, but they were hesitant unless a parent went along. Much like the horseback riding adventure last year, I “won the toss.”

Paying $25 extra, we bought a private lesson, and got lucky with our instructor Johnny, a young surfer with a patient, “you can do it” attitude. With his blond hair sticking out of his red cap, broad smile and confidence, he easily won us over. We were excited to start. Well, the girls were excited. I was apprehensive until I saw I could use my yoga training.

We started practicing with a board on dry land. As Johnny demonstrated the moves, I translated each one into yoga. First, assume Plank position to situate yourself onto the back end of the board. Lie down, paddle, turn around and face shore. When the wave feels right, paddle hard, then follow through with an Up-dog. Pull your knees forward and plant your foot forward firmly, as if you were about to do a Warrior Lunge.

Quickly plant your back foot at a 45° angle and rise up into Warrior Two. Now ride the wave to shore!  If you begin to fall assume the Shavasana position to create a big surface area and break the fall on the water’s surface, rather than on the coral beneath. With that tutorial and the confidence I gained from relating surfing to yoga, I was ready to surf.

My younger daughter went first. She was a natural. Having danced ballet for many years, she has good form and excellent balance. She scrambled up and coasted to shore.

Her older sister went next. With the confidence of her natural athletic abilities, she nimbly stood and rode her wave. While I waited for my turn, I pondered what the hell I was doing, and cursed my hubris. What’s an almost 60-year-old doing on a surf board? I was tired just paddling out there! Thankfully, Johnny chose a fat, old, stable board for a fat, old, unstable broad.

I said a quick prayer to God that I wouldn’t break any bones, then readied myself. Johnny talked to me calmly and confidently as we waited for the right wave. When it came, he shoved my board and I was off. I paddled, did the Up-dog, pulled myself into a kneeling position . . . and froze.

But I rode my wave to shore, smiling all the way. I didn’t even get my hair wet, for which Johnny congratulated me when I paddled back out.

Next time, I again pulled into the kneeling position, but saw a child directly in my path. I quickly executed the technique Johnny taught us; look away and your board will follow you in that direction. It worked! I didn’t collide with the boy and made it to shore without wetting my hair or my pants! No Shavasana needed. Johnny congratulated me on avoiding the collision.

With my third wave, I planted my front foot in the lunge position. But that took me so long, I landed on shore before I could do any more.

Paddling back out, I felt exhausted. It dawned on me that this would have to be my last wave. When I told Johnny, he said we’d try something different. He instructed me to start in the kneeling position to give me more time to stand before I reached shore.

He gave me a strong shove, and with the resolve that came from knowing this was my last chance, I pulled my front foot forward, planted my back foot and stood up. WAHOO, I was surfing!! Look at me! I’m surfing! It wasn’t pretty or graceful, but it was exhilarating: the wind in my face, the approaching shoreline, and my family cheering me. I was grateful when the wave petered out near shore and I stepped off the board, dizzy and disoriented, but hair dry to the very end!

Triumphantly, I dragged my board up the beach, where I collapsed near my husband and put my glasses on. Now I could see the girls more clearly as they gracefully cruised into shore.

When the lesson ended we had high fives all around. It’s a sweet, proud memory, and I’ve crossed one more thing off my bucket list. But I would not have made it without the yoga I learned from my dear teachers. The muscle memory was there. And my teachers were there, too, cheering me on inside my head.

Yoga has taught me breathing, meditation, balance, core strength, flexibility and patience. Well, I’m still working on patience. But now I can say it taught me surfing, too. Call me Surfer Girl. (End of reprint.)

This essay is dedicated to my three yoga mentors: Alice Stevens (my teacher 1987-2000), Shahadah Fredericks (my teacher 2001 – 2011), and Anita Stith (my teacher 2009 – present).

 

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in daughters, excerpt from my book, facing my fears, getting out of my comfort zone, Hawaii beaches, learnng new things, living full out, Maui, the nearby Pacific Ocean, yoga | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Wishing for island fever on Murano

This photo of Murano children feeding pigeons reminds me how different their lives are from other kids. They live on a very small island, and are contained by it. They don’t jump in a car to go anywhere, and their mother doesn’t yell, “Watch out for the cars!” when their ball escapes. Tripping off a curb means a dunk in the canal. There’s no such thing as jaywalking, though I did see a man ‘double-park’ his boat and walk across another one to get to the pavement. People walk everywhere on Murano, evoking an earlier time. They frequently see their neighbors out and about. I’m seriously envious.

I also live on an island, but compared to Murano, Hawaiʻi is huge. People ask if I get island fever. Not yet, and I’ve been here six years. Could I envision getting island fever living on Murano? Probably. But would I like to find out? Definitely. Even my urban kid said she missed Murano when we got back to Venice.

It’s not like I’d be cut off from the rest of the world. Murano residents get DHL shipments just like we get FedEx, but delivered by boat. (And unlike trucks, boats can nudge other boats to get into tight parking spaces.) They’re well plugged in with satellite dishes, cell phones and WiFi. In fact, the WiFi reception in our Murano apartment was better than in some hotels in the US. There’s no shortage of connectivity here.

Their canal-bound life does not adversely affect access to good food either. The food co-op is well stocked with boxed, bottled and canned products upstairs, even specialty items like Easter candy. Veggies were plentiful, and given their proximity to Africa and the Middle East, the fruit section was abundant.

The in-store butcher shop has everything from trussed up roasts to fresh fish. It was a bit more than we wanted to tackle while on holiday, so we cooked mainly meatless pasta dishes. I already miss the different kinds of fresh pastas and cheeses.

The breads smelled heavenly. But I’d have to shop early to ensure they had my favorite because this section sells out quickly.

Of course, I’d have to get the ubiquitous wheeled cart to carry my groceries. And if I wanted some variety, I could also shop the fish, butcher and grocery stores embedded in the residential neighborhoods.

But island life has limitations. In Hawaii, we are used to the idea that most everything arrives by boat. Murano does that and more: everything has to be brought directly to a work-site this way.

Every brick, bag of cement, sand, and paver used to fix a sidewalk gets heaved over the side of a boat at the worksite. We saw boats with crane arms everywhere. For a newbie, it’s all fascinating.

For sites along interior streets, people haul loads with bicycles and large carts. I imagine Murano residents think twice about ordering a new sofa.

But the Murano canals aren’t all about limitations and work-arounds. We also saw friends and lovers perched dockside, enjoying the water, and stand-up rowing teams out early on Sunday morning, pushing themselves at a very fast pace. What a wonderful way to celebrate their canal island identity.

Besides the deep sense of community, I also love Murano’s rich history: the glass-making, the fishing industry, the churches. The Basilica of Saints Mary and Donatus was founded in the seventh century. The current church, completed in 1140 CE is full of paintings and a beautiful mosaic floor (1125 CE). It also holds the remains of St. Donatus, and four large rib bones of the dragon he supposedly slayed.

One thing Murano and other Venetian Lagoon residents must confront is that the islands are sinking and sea levels are rising. Some mornings our sidewalk was littered with seaweed, the high tide line from the night before. Allowing cruise ships in the lagoon and dredging it for large cargo ships also contributes to the destruction of these historic island cities.

So if the children of Murano are to continue the life of their ancestors, lagoon management must improve. That may mean limiting the number of tourists that arrive. I hope it doesn’t come to that because some day, I want to get island fever on Murano.

 

For other essays from this trip to the Venetian Lagoon, see:

Trying Spontaneity in Murano Italy

Venice – night eye candy.

Murano Italy – at first glance it’s all about the glass

The Murano most tourists don’t see. 

Cute Burano – colorful buildings that make you happy

 

For my Venice essays from a trip in 2015, see:

Rules for buying veggies in Venice

The sounds of Venice

 

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in eating, enjoying other cultures, Honoring tradition, island culture, Small town life, travel as a transformation tool, travel in Italy | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Cute Burano – colorful buildings that make you happy

Burano is even smaller than Murano and cuter by far. As with all travel in the Venetian Lagoon, my daughter and I took a vaporetto, a somewhat longer trip than other visits. The canal along the main shopping street was small, and the narrow passage lent an intimacy to the walkways and buildings on either side.

While Burano has been a fishing village from the time of the Romans, its historic claim to fame is its tradition of hand-made lace, though the brightly painted buildings are becoming a close second. While every shop in Murano sells glass, the Burano shops are full of home textiles and clothing enhanced by some form of needlework.

I learned that lace stitching is very specialized. A shopkeeper showed me a one inch square piece of lace in process. She pointed out three different stitch types in the tiny piece, and told me that each was done by a different woman on the island. Burano has a small Lace Museum where you can learn more.

There is, of course, a legend of how Burano lace-making came about. The story goes that a fisherman who was about to be married went out to sea, and a beautiful mermaid tempted him mercilessly. But he remained true to his fiancé. Seeing this, the Queen of the Sirens rewarded him with a gift for his fiancé of a beautiful bridal veil made from sea foam. The other young women of Burano were so envious that they tried to recreate the veil for themselves using needle and thread. Thus was born the lace industry.

While everything was beautiful, I had no interest in purchasing a lace tablecloth, hanky or curtains, though I did think twice about buying a sun umbrella. Can you picture me walking down Mamane Street in Honokaʻa with that? No, lace is just not my style. I found the architecture far more interesting than shopping.

Each building was painted in the most amazing happy colors. But it wasn’t just the retail sections of town. It was all of the buildings: each house, each section of a set of apartments. Even houses in the shadows seemed to glow. The story goes that the villagers started this tradition long ago so that the fishermen could identify their homes when returning from fishing in thick fogs.

Since then, it’s become institutionalized, a system set up by the government. When an owner wants to paint their house, they submit a request to the government, who will let them know their color choices for that specific lot. While it may sound over-regulated, it’s no worse than CC&Rs in subdivisions here in the US, and at least they get to choose fun colors.

The best views were along the canals where the reflection of the houses in the water doubled the punch of color.

Most homes are right on the street with no patches of grass and very few fences to create privacy. So residents exit directly into the public walkway. Many had installed textile curtains across the front doors to provide privacy when the doors were open for ventilation. These added to the sense of the town as a place for textiles.

And yes, people do live here, as the airing laundry, hanging even from main street upper windows, demonstrates. In one small square, a playground sat underneath a nonna flapping a rug from an upstairs window.

A final point, like icing on a cake – we learned that Burano has a leaning tower. It’s part of St. Martin’s Church, built in the 16th century. The tower was added in the 1700’s and began to lean almost immediately. The government had to start stabilizing it when the tower’s lean accelerated during WWII. The stabilization program only ended in 1970. Eat your heart out Pisa: all you’ve got is a leaning white tower. Burano is so much more.

 

For other essays from this trip to the Venetian Lagoon, see:

Trying Spontaneity in Murano Italy

Venice – night eye candy.

Murano Italy – at first glance it’s all about the glass

The Murano most tourists don’t see. 

Wishing for island fever on Murano

 

To see my Venice essays from a trip in 2015, see:

Rules for buying veggies in Venice

The sounds of Venice

 

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in daughters, enjoying other cultures, Honoring tradition, learnng new things, Small town life, travel as a transformation tool, travel in Italy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Murano most tourists don’t see

I promised myself that I’d live more spontaneously on this trip to Italy. In fact, I didn’t even have an itinerary planned out. My daughter was busy writing two papers, so I had the luxury of spending time on my own. I used it to explore the parts of Murano that most tourists don’t have time to see.

We are staying here all week, in an apartment on a sleepy canal. We have time to shop for groceries, cook, do laundry, wander neighborhoods, and generally feel a bit like we live here. It’s on a side canal in an old factory that has been refurbished into apartments. Large pieces of old machinery grace the hallways like metal sculptures. Our host said it’s the only apartment building on Murano with a lift. Good thing, as we are on the third floor, and even a small suitcase is a drag to carry up flights of stairs. Unfortunately we found another stairway to the bedroom once inside the apartment. Still, we loved it – tons of character and factory-height timbered ceilings in the loft with skylights.

Tourists visiting the main Murano canals lined with glass shops and restaurants might wonder if anyone lives here. But when you have the time to wander into back alleys, a whole world opens up. On one stretch we found large spaces dedicated to eating gardens. On my first visit to Venice, I had noted that there were few green spaces on the streets and that people resorted to window boxes and patio pots to provide a bit of plant life. But on Murano, you can have a whole plot to grow whatever you want.

Here at the end of winter, many of the gardens looked bedraggled, but blooming daffodils and forsythia promised spring’s arrival. Some gardens contained hearty winter crops still standing in neat rows. Large rosemary plants stood sentinel, some close enough to the chain-link fencing to “borrow” a few sprigs for that night’s pasta sauce. A few plots showed signs of the care-taker already working up the ground, preparing for planting.

During wanderings among apartment buildings, I’d see a butcher shop on one corner, a tobacconist on another, and several blocks away, a fish shop with young moms out front, chatting and laughing. These stores were scattered among the apartment buildings the way we used to have small neighborhood stores in my hometown. Our shops did not survive because people started driving everywhere; these thrive because people walk past them every day.

The bright yellow Elementary School protected by a large iron enclosure, had a charming display of ceramic handprints along the side of the building. Later I saw a group of little ones parading past me with their teachers. I wonder where they had gone for their outing.

On one walk I started to see people with bouquets of flowers. I wondered, were they for a sweetheart? Perhaps they celebrated the first day of spring with fresh flowers? The answer came to me when I stumbled upon the Murano Cemetery. There a group of people, many with flowers, were saying good-bye to a loved one.

Most of the graves were decorated with flowers, some fresh, even in this cold at the end of winter. Brooms and racks of watering cans were available for people to take care of loved one’s graves.

On Sunday, people stroll. We watched family members pushing elders in wheelchairs, dads indulging children with gelato, nonna tucking the baby into the stroller, young lovers kissing in the sun, grandfathers hanging onto grandkids, everyone holding hands. At our Sunday dinner out, we were ushered into the back dining room, walking through groups of loquacious locals gathered to enjoy each other after Mass, accompanied by a glass of wine. As families arrived in the dining room, they stopped first at the table with the young couple and their new baby. Everyone from nonnas to children cooed at the baby and offered hearty congratulations to the beaming couple. Family comes first here.

Yes, people live and work on this island. And finding their world was far more interesting than just exploring the shops full of glass. It’s the hidden Murano that most tourists don’t have or take time to see. That’s their loss, because this is one path to becoming a grateful guest, not just a tourist.

 

For other essays from this trip to the Venetian Lagoon, see:

Trying Spontaneity in Murano Italy

Venice – night eye candy.

Murano Italy – at first glance it’s all about the glass

Cute Burano – colorful buildings that make you happy

Wishing for island fever on Murano

 

To see my Venice essays from a trip in 2015, see:

Rules for buying veggies in Venice

The sounds of Venice

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in enjoying other cultures, gardening, Honoring tradition, Small town life, Travel, travel as a transformation tool, travel in Italy | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Murano Italy – at first glance it’s all about the glass

 

My daughter and I enjoyed the night we spent in Venice, but now it was time to move to our home base, Murano, famous for the glass that’s been hand-crafted there for centuries. Many Venice visitors don’t make it out to the smaller lagoon islands, each with their own character and story. While Venice is small (3 miles by 2 miles), Murano is even smaller (less than a mile across). Venice is built on 118 islands/islets with 177 canals and 409 bridges. Murano has seven islands and eight channels/canals; I counted 10 bridges on our map.

We took the Number 3 vaporetto, which is a smaller boat with enclosed front and back compartments that sits low in the water. It was packed with people, baby strollers, packages and luggage. My mind immediately went to how difficult it would be to evacuate in case of an emergency. (It’s hard to shake American ways of thinking when overseas.)

The minute you step off the boat, you sense a completely different vibe from Venice. It’s much quieter, less commercial, and filled with glass shops. The infrastructure is less decorative than Venice. Many of the plain brick industrial buildings have been converted to other uses. Venice is a Grand Lady; Murano is her working-class Sister but no less proud of Her contributions and heritage.

In 1291, the government of Venice decided that there was too much fire risk for the mostly wooden buildings in Venice to have their glass-makers there. So they forcibly moved these artisans and their foundries to Murano, forbidding them to leave the Venetian Republic so as to safe-guard their secrets. In the following centuries Murano thrived on innovation and became a hub for chandeliers, beads, mirrors and all things glass. They were world-famous.

Glass-making is still intimately linked with Murano, long after the glass-making secrets escaped and the island’s importance declined. The countless shops display everything from kitsch to glass jewelry to exquisite art without price tags. I overhead one couple asking a price; they were stunned to hear that the vase they liked was 6000 Euros.

Glass-making demonstrations in the historic foundries are readily available. We watched a pro turn a glob of red-hot glass into a horse in less than three minutes! And at another foundry/shop we watched a pro blow and prod a drinking glass into being, again, in minutes. Both shops sold glass items made right there. Among the tourist souvenirs, you can find signed pieces that are exquisite.

But the best place to appreciate Murano glass is at the Murano Glass Museum. It covers the history of glass-making from Egyptian and Roman times to present. A definite must-see.

I love Murano for its character and its beautiful glass. I was even able to find a spot where the tide went out enough to expose a very tiny beach. Sure enough, at low tide, I found seaglass there. Admittedly, almost none of it was weathered or “cooked” enough to be true seaglass. But it was Murano seaglass with a range of colors I’d never before seen on a beach: pink, aqua, teal, even red, orange and yellow. I even scored two glass beads and some glass with multiple colors. As a beachcomber, this is the kind of travel souvenir I treasure most. I’ll keep this little pile of broken glass as a very special memento of a very special place. It’s so much more meaningful than buying a glass horse.

 

For other essays from this trip to the Venetian Lagoon, see:

Trying Spontaneity in Murano Italy

Venice – night eye candy.

The Murano most tourists don’t see. 

Cute Burano – colorful buildings that make you happy

Wishing for island fever on Murano

 

Pistol-shaped glass at the Murano Glass Museum

To see my Venice essays from a trip in 2015, see:

Rules for buying veggies in Venice

The sounds of Venice

 

If you like my blog, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.

Posted in beachcombing, enjoying other cultures, travel as a transformation tool, travel in Italy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment