The Old Man Of The Mountain
The wonder of the journey is often in the unexpected, that serendipitous find waiting around the next bend that makes the whole trip worthwhile.
While we were in Florence Jay and I took a day to hike from the village of Fiesole to the tiny hamlet of Maiano, where we had reservations at a traditional trattoria for lunch. (You're not sick of these Florence anecdotes yet, are you? I hope not, but even if you are you're stuck with this one since I've been waiting for a chance to share it and this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt of walk gave me the perfect opportunity.) You knew food was going to enter into it somehow too, didn't you? I suppose that was a bit of a foregone conclusion, what with me and Italy and all. Nevermind, it's a minor part of this tale. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah...
While walking we came across an old quarry, one hundreds of years old. Rock from this site and others like it built much of Renaissance Florence. I stood at the base of the quarried rock imagining the backbreaking work it must have taken to first quarry it and then transport it to the city miles below. When I looked up, I was surprised to see a face looking back at me out of the rock, just as he must have looked out at so many others over the years. He seemed almost a living part of the stone, a sentinel keeping watch. What emotions hide behind that stony visage? What does he think of this work of man? Was it in fact for the glory of Florence, or the glory of the Church, or did he feel that his world had been ripped away, leaving him raw and exposed? How many stories have those stone eyes seen? What was the reason for the sadness they seem to hold? I could barely look at Michelangelo's Prisoners* in the Galleria dell'Accademia, so painful did I find their imprisonment in the stone, but my old man of the mountain seemed somehow more melancholy than trapped. Perhaps it is because he appears more organic - a living part of the stone, almost its essence, rather than something being freed from its clutches.
I can't help but wonder how he came to become my old man of the mountain. Was he an accident of a workman's chisel, or did the quarry master have a sense of whimsy? However he came to be, I am richer for having found him.
He had some lovely neighbors too. These are a few of the things we stumbled across as we walked through the woods that day.
A warning to watch out for falling signs?
* Michelangelo's Prisoners are a series of unfinished sculptures where the subjects seem to be struggling to break out of solid blocks of marble. Michelangelo believed his figures were divinely created within the rock, that as he attacked the stone with his chisel he was simply chipping away the excess to make them visible.