Musings on Place

It was a mid-winter day when I first noticed that the sun was setting earlier than usual. Saturated bands of lavender, pink, and gold—the daughters of the Titan who holds the world upon his shoulders, as the Greeks referred to the colors of the sunsets thousands of years ago—slowly pulled the twilight across the sky. Evening-cast shadows stretched along the plaza and buoyed the sun’s golden light towards the tops of edifices until it dispersed into the infinite and lonely space of night.

During the violet hour, the old gods no longer protect their citrus fruits, which stood out, glossy and vibrant, on trees as conspicuous as jewels on a crown. Monet would have captured the fleeting moment well, perhaps, as he did so often at Rouen.

Seville Sunset

To experience this was no heroic labor. It was a pleasure to be within that temporal Eden, where the golden fruits hang protected by no Ladon. The experience was anyone’s to take, and I did so gladly.

In the Plaza del Salvador, others also enjoyed the pleasures that the space offered. People, talking and laughing, lingered a while. I liked watching them. Who where they? I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. What I liked most about watching them was that I was watching them there. Spain. Seville. The center. Salvador.

There, for me, the everyday and the mundane were spiritual experiences, the same kind Wordsworth had encountered along the banks of the Wye and in Cumbria. Everything, I thought, was infused with a spiritual substance just because it is here and nowhere else. It was in that place that the Hesperides helped me see into the light of things, and taught me the importance of experience and place.

Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a city knows the feeling. It happens suddenly and it is easy to know. But, as Wordsworth suggested, it grows strongest when one is left with the pain to enjoy it in memory alone.

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