Il Tramonto Siciliano — The Sicilian Sun Set

A sunset in Sicily

I was not looking through the lens of my video camera or the camera lens of my iPhone; I wasn’t wearing sunglasses either. The landscape that surrounded me was recorded by the naked eye and developed by the senses. How can I explain it? How can I explain nature coming in? How can I explain peace?

Many have had the opportunity to see a setting sun over a lake, sea, or ocean. Some, like me, are mesmerized and others ignore it. Years ago, [seems like yesterday], I waited and watched a Sicilian beach reflect colors of a sun falling below the water’s horizon. The intensity of color hypnotized my vision. Reds collided with night blue, yellows caressed browns of mountain cliffs, and orange streaked across waves of emerald green.

Another Sicilian sun set

There were two little boys, around the age of ten that played along the rocky shore. We shared the same setting, but experienced a different image. The boys laughed as they threw stones against the incoming waves. I watched motionless and absorbed the picture that unraveled in front of me. This scenic beach was common place for the two Italian boys, and they played amongst the Sicilian colors. For the boys it became a playground and for me a sanctuary. The different view of our shared set could have been explained by age. I have my doubts — I could have played in this place too.

Nature and its paint-brush imprinted a visual memory in my mind. I remember the weightlessness I felt and my eyes overwhelmed became heavy. I then recall closing them for a moment.

I now just imagined the landscape of the Sicilian Sea and its setting sun as my eyes rest still behind the dark of my lids. The noise of passing cars and motor scooters became faint and the sounds of the beach grew loud. Waves crashed against the rocky shore and a rhythmic beat reached my ears. Laughter of little boys added to the music the Mediterranean composed.

I heard the enchanting voices of the Sirens singing Poseidon’s song. Mythological chants that lured sailors were now luring me. I wondered if the boys on the beach heard it too. I was amazed by the quality of sound the sea produced. My stereo could have never orchestrated this kind of music. Waves bore brassy bellows as they hit the shore. Winds whispered nature’s secrets in my ear and laughter contributed to the melody. This song made me realize the tremendous power the waters possessed and a curious fear enveloped me. My eyes opened.

The Mediterranean’s strength surprised me. I don’t quite understand why I stopped listening and opened my eyes. Did my blindness create fear? Or was it my sight? The pure mystery of the sea beginning to reveal itself and I regressed. My eyes were now open and the thunderous noise of the street entered onto the beach. Screeching brakes of motorcycles and Fiats stained the street with black. The sounds of beep-beep and vroommm echoed through the air. The melodies of the water clashed with the sounds of vehicles and the Sirens’ voices changed.

The songs of the sea lost their purity and became polluted by outside clatter. The sounds of the beach had become muffled and all I could hear from the shore was laughter.

The opposing movements provided an eccentricity to my surroundings. The downward motion of the sun combining with the rise and fall of waves accentuated its beauty. The continuity of the water’s dance now entertained me unlike its sights and sounds. The Sicilian Sea’s energy became apparent and it called me to its shore. I walked, feeling the rough stones beneath my bare feet, and joined the two boys at play.

There were no formal introductions. The boys invited me with a wave of their hands. They handed me stones. I mimicked the boys and threw the stones against the rolling waves. My arm moving with the wind gave the stones great velocity, as they glided, skipped and then dropped into the sea. This was fun. My laughter joined in with that of the boys and our game continued. The water’s energy grew stronger and called me a little closer. My feet sunk into the water’s sand and ripples circled my legs. I walked further and further until the water completely engulfed me. It was cool but comfortable and as I began to swim, pushing the water out and away with my arms, it became warm. It was the boys that now mimicked me and jumped into the waves. I now physically felt the landscape and the music which had mesmerized me earlier that evening.

As I got out of the sea, the sun was no longer a piece of the setting. The moon was my light. The boys went home and I threw one final stone. Lifting my wet body up and over my scooter’s seat, I noticed the movement of the water had changed. It was slower. The wave’s rapid pace had subsided and its tread had become soft. The shore exposed more of itself.

I drove my scooter and watched the beach move further away through the reflection of the side mirror. I felt myself ride with the brisk air. I felt my face pressed against the wind. I felt motion and it felt good.

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