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The birds and the bees at Coddhu Vecchju

28 May 2008

Coddu Vecchju — Fieldnotes

It was our final day in Sardinia and we wanted to return to Coddhu Vecchju to enjoy the morning light on the stones.

Tombi di giganti are aligned south-south-east, towards the morning light, which I suppose is symbolic of life and rebirth. This is certainly the case in ancient Egypt. The tombs' grave corridors point north-north-west, towards evening and sunset, perhaps symbolic of death. So to get the best modeling light on the stones (for painting and photography) you need to be there late morning, so the sun is high enough to cast shadows and reveal the carving and sculpting.

At Coddhu Vecchju the carving is not deep at all (not like those more southerly stele we'd seen) so we needed all those shadows. And I wanted to see the pink granite sparkle in the sun.

The friendly staff at the 'biglietteria' recognised us from our earlier visits here and Li Lolghi and said "next time you come you don't have to pay!" That was very generous, but too late for us to take advantage of as we were flying out next morning.

So we walked down the lane to the tomb, crossing the small stream, admiring the wildflowers.

Since our last visit here a few days before, the quaking grass has ripened and the weirdy green stick plants I couldn't identify were now blooming sky blue flowers.

Then I noticed something in the grass that looked just like a snake and thought to myself: "what's that thing that looks so much like a snake?" … you're way ahead of me, Reader. It was a snake! As I approached for a closer look, it twitched and darted into the undergrowth. I poked around with a stick to see if I could reveal it, but it kept well clear of me. Wise serpent.

The tomb looked fabulous today, all the subtle colours in the stones visible; naples yellow, bluegrey lichen, and all that pink granite contrasting with the dark green waxy foliage of the low sweet-smelling bushes all around.

We stayed for a couple of hours. We watched iridescent green beetles clamber around in the flowers (Darwin would've loved it!)...

... and observed the parties of tourists coming and going.

Make no mistake: Coddhu Vecchju is a 'show site' and very much on the tourist trail, so if you want it to yourself, allow time and you will get time between the coachloads of German and Dutch greyheads, Austrian motorcyclists, Italian couples on scooters and British families with small children struggling to have a good time. No one stayed too long. My guess is most of them spent longer queuing for the one loo in the information office than they did looking at the monument.

I got out my paints. I couldn't resist looking harder at that pinkness on the stones and having a go at hamming it up a bit:

Coddu Vecchju — Images

<b>Coddu Vecchju</b>Posted by Jane

When you stop and look – I mean really look – you see things that you wouldn't otherwise notice. Like the pair of goldfinches that kept swooping by. Or the family of stonechats with their fledgling who evidently nested here in the trees by the stream, and flew from perch to perch – including one of the stones. Here's one of them (photographed from a long way off):

Or the dark-coloured LBJ (Little Brown Job) which I couldn't identify. I was later old by a British visitor who know his birds that it was a Cetti's warbler. He'd identified it from its song alone.

The ancient people who used Coddhu Vecchju would have noticed all these things.

There were another couple of birds singing a-loud, varied and beautiful 'liquid' song in the trees by the stream. Nightingales. They provided the most gorgeous of soundtracks to our magic morning at Coddhu Vecchju.
Jane Posted by Jane
2nd June 2008ce
Edited 5th June 2008ce

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