Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Thank you, Mt. Etna
Above: Thank you, Mt. Etna, Toni Youngblood, 2009 Encaustic on board
In October 2002, I made a trip to Sicily. Mt. Etna had it's last eruption in Julyl 2001. I considered how fortuitous it would be if the mountain happened to erupt while we were vacationing in the nearby hilltown of Taormina. As it turned out, while our plane was making its approach to the Catania airport on the island of Sicily, we noticed we were cruising through a brownish cloud. The captain announced that Mt. Etna had begun erupting at midnight before our morning landing.
The encaustic painting above is named to honor the active eruption of the volcano that loomed over us during our entire eight-day stay. The airport closed just after our landing, due to the ash from the volcano. It was closed the whole week of our tour of Southern Sicily. The only activity from the airport was that of utility aircraft carrying fire retardant to drop on the flanks of the mountain in order to put out fires from the blazing lava. Our itinerary for the week went as planned with the exception of a scheduled hike up the side of the mountain. From our hotel terrace, we had clear view of the mountain, only three miles away. Evenings, we could view the glowing sparks propelled from the volcano cone, as well as the fiery lava flowing down the mountain side. In the quiet of the evening, when no Vespas buzzed through the cobble streets, one could hear and feel the deepest bass tone rumblings of the mountain. But there was only one evening that the ash blew and drifted over our hotel. When we woke the next morning, there appeared to be black sand covering the hotel terraces.
I wrote the following information taken from the television news reports during our stay: