Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walking on Water

People usually consider walking on water
 or thin ice a miracle.
But I think the real miracle is not to walk
either on water or thin ice,
But to walk on earth.

Every day we are engaged in a miracle
which we don't recognize:
a blue sky,
white clouds,
green leaves,
the black, curious eyes of a child~~
our own eyes.
All is a miracle.
~~Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese monk)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Glimpses and Fragments

The people of St. Augustine are gearing up for 2013, the year that marks
 the 500th anniversary
 of Ponce de Leon's 1513 landing on their shores.
Following Columbus' discovery of the New World
that reached the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola in 1492-93,
 de Leon explored the coast near St. Augustine,
naming this newly discovered land "La Florida."

On September 8, 1565, with banners flying, trumpets sounding, artillery booming,
 and 600 soldiers and settlers cheering, Pedro Menendez, of Spain, set foot on Florida's shore.
In honor of the Saint whose feast day it was when he first sighted land,
Menendez named the town they founded "St. Augustine."

St. Augustine of  Hippo, 354-430 A. D. of the Roman Africa Province
    ~~figure from Potter's Wax Museum on King Street, St. Augustine, FL

As I stepped onto the cobblestone streets of our nation's oldest city,
I hoped to uncover ancient remnants, textures, and links to history.
The old town didn't disappoint.
In spite of its multi-colored, many-layered venues for every kind of tourist,
 I was able to assemble a little tapestry of pictures to satisfy my penchant for the 16th century.

A water vessel at the Oldest House Museum...

...coquina walls and tabby floors in the Gonzalez-Alvarez home at 14 St. Francis Street.

The Spanish crest on the town's centerpiece, Castillo de San Marcos.

In 1668, English pirates sacked St. Augustine, but failed to capture the wooden fort.
In 1669 Queen Regent Mariana of Spain ordered the construction of a stone fort in St. Augustine.
The Castillo de San Marcos was built of coquina, a limestone conglomerate of shellstone
 quarried on nearby Anastasia Island.

Chapel seating at the stone fort...

...prayer candles at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine, founded in September of 1565...

...ancient construction and graffiti.

I walked Aviles Street, the oldest avenue and art district, stopping at
 La Herencia for delicious plantain soup and empanadas...


...browsed through scrolls, inks, and herrero arts...

...chatted with de hita in a two-room house...
...sipped wine at the Taberna del Gallo in the Colonial Spanish Quarter,

...and tasted new vintages from San Sebastian vineyards.

...a tiny sampling of the massive menu
 St. Augustine and its inhabitants offer its visitors.
Thanks to the Old Town Trolley,
we enjoyed easy parking and transportation
 along the narrow streets of this truly historic town.