The fog was thick as we loaded our luggage into the cab. I was annoyed. I was annoyed that Bologna looked as beautiful as I'd ever seen it in this pearly, morning light. I was annoyed that I hadn't listened to Susie the day before and bought some dried, porcini mushrooms at that market. I was annoyed that this trip was ending and that I was going home. If only I had but one more day here—I could buy the mushrooms and then get some images of this amazing fog.
The night before, the news from America was bad. Congresswoman Giffords had been shot in the head. Others were dead or wounded. Headlines screamed at us in Italian, French, German, and English while we waited for our plane. Local TV replayed the horrifying videos in endless loops. Something always seems to happen in America when we go away. Maybe that's simply the nature of life. Things are probably always happening but are amplified when you see the headlines a half a world away from home.
Soon our plane lifted over the fog of Bologna and we were headed for home. I thought about guns and America and those poor people in Tucson. And then I thought about the stupid utilities bill I forgot to pay before leaving. I wondered if the house had maybe burned down or been burglarized or if, perhaps I'd left the bathroom faucet on.
Daylight lasts forever when traveling west on a long flight, even in the dead of winter. It was a late afternoon of deep shadows when we approached the San Francisco Bay. Dizzy from too much daylight I was stunned by the view. The view of the bay after a long trip is always stunning, jet-lagged or not. The flight went right over our house and then the Golden Gate Bridge. We were home.
By the time we got to our own airport it looked like the congresswoman would survive though many others were dead. By the time we got to our own home I realized that the house had not burned down, had not been burglarized, and the bathroom faucet was, indeed, in the off position. I paid the utility bill online the next day after I read about the accounts of the shooting.
A week later the trip started to feel like a dream. I had to look at the photos to remind myself that it was real. I had to force myself to pick up my camera again, to get out and make some photos of the familiar. I just didn't want to do it. I was stuck in Venice and I was stuck in the bountiful markets of Bologna.
The ordinary and the mundane looked even more so after the senses after my flirting with the exotic. My creative funk lasted for a month. One morning, in the kitchen, the light started to glow in that late winter way. I watched it move and change for an hour. Then it came to me..."A stone's throw." I would only photograph stuff within (metaphorically) a stone's throw of home. I would embrace the familiar. I would stop looking for art a half a world away. I'd stop wishing for the past of the future or somewhere else. I'd start looking right here. Right now.
Italy is now gone for awhile. A new trip is planned. But, until then I'm looking for inspiration in the familiar, the stuff I think I know. I'm looking at daily walks and local hikes and scenes from my window. I'm looking at the backyard and the familiar and the mundane. For now, I'm only looking within a stone's throw of home.