Carrara Sunset

Marina Apartment

Colonada marble mountains

Carrara Winter

Nine Months In Italy With Sculpture and Drawing
By Gordon Punt, MFA

August 12, 1984
Marble Mountains by Moon Light

Last night I had a beautiful evening high up in the marble mountains looking over Carrara and the Marina. At eight thirty I started out by going to a small beach party with Dionisio, Mary Jo, Carolina and Hanna. Carolina is a young artist who I just met from Austria and she has a car. Hanna is leaving in a few days to go back to New York with her marble sculptures and she wanted to have a last moonlight swim party before she left. Before last night it had been raining for three days and we thought the party would be called off but, but the storm cleared up and the night was ours. We took some goodies to munch on while at the beach, like watermelon, cantaloupe, cookies and of course some wine. I also brought a guitar I was borrowing, so we sang a few songs and watched the full moon rise, just as some of us had done four weeks ago at the same spot. Dionisio had his foot in a cast from a motor-scooter accident he had a few days earlier so he could not go swimming, but the rest of us went for an all-natural moonlight swim in the gentle warm water. At about eleven o'clock we were getting damp sitting on the beach so we decided to leave and go to a party in Codena, a nearby little town up in the mountains, which was hosted by the Communist Party. There have been several parties like this hosted by either the Communists, the Anarchists or some other political group, and everyone goes to them because there are never any lectures, just food and drink to buy cheaply, music and lots of people enjoying themselves outside under the trees. We got there late so most everyone had left, but we stayed and did a little dancing and singing before heading back home. Hanna and Mary Jo were dropped off at their places and Carolina, Dionisio and I decided to go up into the marble quarries for another adventure. I had been wanting to go up there since I arrived in Carrara but had never been any farther than Janos' house. There are several roads that go up to different parts of the mountains but we took the one closest to us.

As we started climbing the steep grade in Carolina's car we all knew this was going to be a special event. The moon was full and the air was clear from three days of rain, and the only sound was that of our car. Before long we passed Janos' house and we all stepped into the unknown, because neither of them had been up this road either. Earlier that evening on the beach we had seen Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lined up just above the ocean, and then later we also saw some of the constellations that defied the moon's bright light. In fact the moonlight was so strong we turned off the car's headlights to fully appreciate the celestial radiance, as we slowly made our way up. Carolina was telling us about another time she went up a road like this to the caves and how she had met some of the workers that live up there. They often stay up late drinking and singing, and she said they love to perform for guests, singing in harmony. She had been moved to tears she remembered by the depth and emotion their singing aroused, so we all hoped to catch some of those mountain souls that night and be carried away by their magic. We saw only one light on the way up however, with no sign of life, so we were to be our own guides. The moon was casting shadows from the towering peaks like soft blue sunlight, and the huge patches of crushed marble stood out like glaciers as each day they grew and slid further down the mountain, rumbling in their wake. There were no railings along the road so at times we turned the headlights back on to assure our course; one wrong turn and we could have made a disturbing echo in the canyon far below. Within fifteen minutes we had reached near the top where we ran into a locked gate with a sign "Beware of Dog". This was pretty funny to see so far from nowhere and we parked the car to get out and look around, after backing down a bit into a safer spot. We grabbed some cookies and wine, then walked a bit to enjoy the view.

Before long I realized that the awesome power and still majesty encompassing me was similar to something I had experienced before. Fifteen years ago in 1969 I spent twelve long months in Antarctica at the South Pole. That was my last of four years in the Navy and one of the most memorable of my life. I was stationed on the Ross Ice Shelf at Mc Murdo Sound where I was not only surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and glaciers, but where I also made several camping expeditions to outlying areas for fun with friends. I had an overwhelming feeling last night that I was back at the South Pole, because I remember feeling the same indescribable experiences of being in the presence of something that is silent, beautiful, and very powerful, with an atmosphere that is crisp and clean. However, unlike Antarctica, here man was changing the landscape and we could see where over two thousand years of cutting had turned these mountains into a series of bizarre environmental sculptures as the slaves, mules, and now trucks carried some of the mountains away with them. The night was getting late, so after singing a chorus of "Blue Moon" on my guitar we headed slowly back down, glowing from the night and the marble in our souls.

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