The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
In January as our friends were leaving for Spain, they said, “Why not visit us in Valencia? We’ll have an empty bedroom.”
For two months we waffled: “It’s so complicated…what if…I don’t know.”
“Don’t Know What?” my son exclaimed. “Go!”
So we went to sunny Spain. A brief summary: Wine. Oranges. Olives. Chocolate-filled puff pastries. Café con leche. Bocadillos. That’s just the food. Then there’s the art. Standing in an enormous gallery with a marble floor and vaulted ceiling, surrounded by the output of brilliant artists, is an entirely different experience from looking at photographs in a book. When you step into the Prado Museum you enter an alternate universe. Velázquez, El Greco, Bosch, Rubens, Titian—enormous canvases in gilt frames—Dürer, Sorolla, Raphaël, Goya—the list goes on. Startling and unforgettable. No one will ever paint like this again.
Did I mention cathedrals? There are plenty of them, each one crazily fabulous with alabaster and gilt and precious gems, and frescoes of body-less baby angels with winged heads, and statues of martyred saints with arrows sticking into them. We saw the Holy Chalice! Yes it is honest and truly guaranteed the real thing direct from the Last Supper. Of course you can’t touch it or get close enough for a good picture, but there it is all lit up behind glass in the Cathedral of Valencia.
Spain has castles too. Remember the Roman general Hannibal who crossed the Alps with elephants in 200 B.C.? We visited the castle where Hannibal’s wife had a baby. Why did they care so much about this castle? Sure it’s on top of the biggest hill in the landscape, but what good would it do to be stuck up there and see your enemies approaching? What could you do? It’s all a mystery. You have a big hill and then you stack stones on top of it to get even higher. To be fair, Spaniards have been stacking stones on top of each other for thousands of years. They’re good at it, they like it and they don’t give up.
Spain was fabulous but it was good to come home to the Island. Our crocuses are opening and the garlic is up. It’s spring! This place may be a quiet backwater but we have our share of everything, including beautiful churches and amazing artists. I was sorry to hear that photographer Lionel Stevenson passed away recently. Lionel spent a lifetime looking through the lens of his camera, and in a QEH lobby there is a portrait of New Glasgow blacksmith Buck Hill that demonstrates perfectly the depth of his work.
All forms of art give meaning to life. Whether it’s photography, painting, music, dance, sculpture or literature, art nourishes the soul in inexplicable ways. So I say, go visit someplace where art (and chocolate-filled puff pastries) can be found on every street corner. In other words, when friends invite you to visit them in Spain don’t even think about it. Get going.