The two incidents that foreshadow Dmitri's genuine love for Anna both occur in relation to the beauty of the natural world. After first meeting at the restaurant, Dmitri and Anna leave together and walk along the sea, making the usual social small talk. Then each of them notices and remarks upon the beauty of the water:
They strolled along, remarking on the strange light over the sea. The water was a warm, tender purple, the moonlight lay on its surface in a golden strip.
The incident suggests that they are bound by a common sensitivity to beauty and the natural world around them.
The second incident occurs after they have become lovers. Leaving Anna's hotel room, they again find themselves at seaside, this time sitting on a bench overlooking the water. They sit silently, taking in the quiet beauty of the scene--morning mist, white clouds, and mountains. Significantly, their bench is located near a church, giving the moment spiritual connotations. With Anna by his side, Dmitri Gurov experiences an epiphany:
. . . the sea came up to them, speaking of peace, of the eternal sleep lying in wait for us all . . . soothed and enchanged by the sight of all this magical beauty--sea, mountains, clouds and the vast expanse of the sky--Gurov told himself that, when you came to think of it, everything in the world is beautiful really, everything but our own thoughts and actions, when we lose sight of the higher aims of life, and of our dignity as human beings.
Dmitri's relationship with Anna, even in its earliest stage, has touched his spirit in a profound and unexpected way, revealing a part of Dmitri that he had not known existed. Both of these early incidents suggest that his relationship with Anna will develop into something truly meaningful in his life.
The presence of nature in the story contrasts with the mediocrity and mundane nature of the city and the life Dmitri has lived in the city. With Anna, surrounded by natural beauty, he experiences life for the first time in a new way. She will not be just another romantic conquest for Dmitri.