Lanzarote, Canary Islands


“A world lost, a world unsuspected, beckons to new places and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory of whiteness.” – W. C. Williams

Looking out the window into a snowstorm, my mind skips sideways into another whiteness, not quite lost, the memory of blinding sunshine on an island 1,000 miles off the mainland of Europe. Only 100 miles off the coast of Africa, Lanzarote in 1982 was a destination favored by the stranger of my Basque colleagues and neighbors. I was living then in Algorta, Spain. Perhaps it was because we lived in the north, with the constant rain, the drizzle that we wore like clothes, siri miri in the Basque tongue, and so we wanted to go someplace where we could fry an egg on the ground — as they do on the tourist expeditions to the volcanic sands. No one from Andalucia, no one that I ever met, had been to the Canarias.

We went in May or June, when it was starting to get really hot. But of course it was cheaper, and I have always been the most Frugal Tourist. But I loved it, loved the black crescents of volcanic rock protecting the grape vines from the sirocco winds, loved this bougainvillea trellised over the verandas. To photograph this was very difficult, because exposing for the foreground left no detail in the background, and vice avers. Only the human eye, with its constant adjustments, does this capably.

With evening, love wakens
though its shadows
which are alive by reason
of the sun shining—
grow sleepy now and drop away
from desire .

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