On Top of the World
20 Sep 2011
Many years ago, as I descended the metal stairs of a deep well in Kansas, I experienced my first panic attack. In time I developed an intense fear of elevated see-through stairs, platforms and floors. While living in Italy, I'm combating that phobia in stages through my desire to capture certain images. First I mastered climbing the open metal stairs to the see-through metal platform along the upper portion of the high crenulated stone wall of the Tuscan village of Monteriggioni. From there I not only snapped birds-eye shots of the charming village within that wall, but of the undulating surrounding countryside. In the Tuscan mountain village of San Gimignano my yearning to get high above views pushed me into climbing several sets of open metal stairs and platforms within a towering stone tower. Recently I stared up at a cableway leading to the top of an Umbrian mountain where the 12th century Basilica di Sant' Ubaldo stands overlooking the stunning village of Gubbio and the breathtaking countryside beyond. Each revolving cable car consists of a grated metal floor surrounded by an over waist high metal bar railing, is designed to hold two standing adults or one adult and at most two children, and must be mounted as it moves. I imagined potential shots as I hopped on one of the cars with the help of an attendant. My husband Fred got on shortly after me. Then up and up we went. Excitement over the views and the pleasure of capturing them soon replaced the fear driving my rapid heartbeat. Of course going down can be a lot trickier than going up when it comes to a height phobia, but once over the mountaintop boarding platform my heart and soul fully engaged in the scenes below me through my camera.