May 2011. Etna was belching again, strong enough to shut down flights in and out of Catania. Further south, we searched the sky for signs of ash, but there were none.
Much later in this Sicily trip, we drove north. Encountered many sight, ranging from beautiful to strange to perfectly average. Ruins and beaches. Old cranky towns built into the steep slopes. Traffic. Tourists. Etna was the common theme among all of them. If we could not see her in the background, pieces of her were beneath our feet, at our shoulders where we leaned against walls. She was in the shape of the land, too, and what it bore. She was the bones of the place in some regard. The flesh, too. We drank her, and ate her. I’m sure of it.
Being on Etna was different. Ironically the physical communion afforded by distance could not be found here. instead, up close she struck deep and hard. She drew out emotion, wonder and awe. Here she cradled us, forced us to see the impact of her hot ugly tears. She baked and chilled us. But she was not just scars. She was creation, too.
It strikes me that life is a little like she is. Stasis. Upheaval. Turmoil. The breaking down to build it up. She destroys and recreates in the same breathe. She is dangerous, to be sure. Force and energy. She is, and will continue to be.