There are so many ways that the poet Mary Oliver has captured beautiful moments of life in her work, but this excerpt from her poem “Sometimes” is perhaps my favorite. It has that slap you in the face simplicity and speaks a truth that really resonates with me. So few people pay attention to what happens in life – from the simple little things that can bring joy to those experiences that can change our lives if we let them.
If you pay attention, it’s easy to be astonished.
If you pay attention, it’s impossible to be bored.
If you pay attention and are astonished, the drive to tell about it is second nature. For some people that comes through writing, photography, art, music or any other form of creativity. Or maybe it’s just telling a good bedtime story to your kids or sharing what happened yesterday on your walk with a friend. These are the things we remember.
So, what do you have to tell?
Anyone who has spent time on the Amalfi Coast or lived here has a favorite beach. The beautiful beaches and tiny little coves that dot the coastline certainly can make that a hard decision. While I have quite a few that would be contenders, there’s only one that could be called my favorite – the Santa Croce beach. Located just a short boat ride west of Amalfi, it’s isolated enough to feel far away from the world, but still relatively quick and easy to reach.
There are two restaurants with beach access at Santa Croce–Ristorante da Teresa and Ristorante Santa Croce–and they both offer boat service back and forth from Amalfi if you are dining at the restaurant or renting a sunbed for the day. For a small fee, there’s also a separate boat service to Santa Croce if you’d just like to throw down a towel on the free part of the beach (beware … very large stones!) or want to get to the beach on a larger boat. There’s a ramp on the front of the boat that drops down to the beach.
We’ve always gone to Ristorante da Teresa, which you can spot from the sea with its bright orange umbrellas. They have a covered dining patio for relaxing meals overlooking the sea, or you can eat on the beach as well.
I’m in love with the orange umbrellas and their shocking color against the clear blue sky. I could lay and look at them all day long. (Yep, I’ve tested that.) Deep down in my soul I must have a thing for complementary colors.
Oh, and I definitely have a thing for beach picnics at Santa Croce, especially when they involve fried calamari with a dose of freshly squeezed Amalfi Coast lemon, insalata di mare and a most divine parmigiana made with zucchini instead of eggplant. And the summer essential – refreshing white wine with slices of sweet peaches.
What better way to finish off a beach picnic than with fresh fruit? Ristorante Da Teresa also does excellent panini and the restaurant is out of this world for fresh fish. Even if you’re not a beach person, you can enjoy the boat ride to the restaurant and dine overlooking the sea.
The beach at Santa Croce is not for the faint of heart as it’s quite rocky. Adventurously rocky. I love exploring and climbing over the rocks along the beach, perhaps even more than swimming in the water. It opens to the most beautiful views of impossibly blue pools sparkling in the sunshine. Look closely and there are tiny crabs crawling over the same rocks and lots of other little things to discover.
After a bit of climbing and swimming, it’s back to the sunbed to enjoy a view like the one below. This is good for the soul. Very good! It has been a rare experience over this busy summer and with my recent trip back to America. But when it’s rare it’s even sweeter somehow.
Often when I’m out walking or hiking on the Amalfi Coast, I simply have to stop and marvel at the way of life that people have created here – often for generations. Way high above Amalfi, and nowhere particularly roads, you see terraces of lemons. And you know that to tend those lemon groves, make sure the nets are covering them when the weather turns cold and to harvest all those lemons when they turn their vibrant yellow means thousands upon thousands of steps each year.
While on a walk recently, I peered over a crumbly stone wall to see a gorgeous view of Amalfi sitting at the base of the valley. I also spotted two garden terraces. One had a trellis covered with grape vines while the other had rows of melanzane – eggplant. The way of living in these rural spots on the Amalfi Coast surely must not be easy, but few people can boast a view like that while gardening!
In early summer the Amalfi Coast blushes a bright pink. When the days become warm and spring showers have turned everything a lush green, the valerian flowers burst out, quite literally, from every nook and cranny. They poke out of crumbly stone walls, drape over the walkways through villages and call home every untended corner of the garden – and sometimes even the the campanile. Yes, even the top of the bell tower had valerian flowers this year. There used to be a pine tree, but the flowers are decidedly more colorful.
Their dramatic position right at the edge of the bell tower caught my eye one day. Scanning the garden and surrounding area, I spotted them all over the place. It was a gorgeous day, so I grabbed my camera and took a walk to take photos of the valerian flowers. It was fun to have a fixed–and lovely–subject in mind.
Here are some of the photos from the pink flower photography outing. It brings me right back to those crisp, bright early summer days.