To me, no other spring flower is more beautiful than the colourful crocus. I have a very special connection to this vernal bloom.
It is without a doubt the first delicate living item that captured my attention, when I was a child. I recall running around on the meadows of Slovakia, when the first green grass was exposed after the snow of winter slowly melted away. As the brilliance of the first sun rays and the early birdsong defined the nature, the new green carpet was littered with these precious gems, in all colours, in all shapes and all sizes. It was the first wild flower which name I learned and which I knew how to recognize. And interestingly, the name is the same in Slovakian, Swedish, Danish and English.
Thus even today, the first blooming crocuses around my house hold my undivided attention. I almost hold my breath every year, as they start pushing relentlessly through the frozen ground already in January.
Finally, as we cross into spring and their beautiful crowns open when drenched in the first sunshine, I feel like the richest woman on earth, while my patio becomes adorned with sapphire and gold.
These days I find myself in search of places that have an aura of stillness and tranquility about them.
My home is of course at all times my refuge and my safe haven.
Nevertheless, as warmer and brighter days define this season, I venture more often outside to my secret hideaways, those that are playgrounds to my thinking and my contemplation and where I find solace and comfort, which my body and soul currently crave.
However melancholic and odd it may sound, I must confess that these escapes bring me most often to graveyards and cemeteries, as they did again this past weekend.
The most serene, sheltered and transcending moments in time, which I carry in my recollection, have been experienced in churchyards, old monasteries or memorials. I have never found these places uncomfortable or unpleasant. On the contrary; they are defined by an endless atmosphere of quietness that is infinitely soothing.
As a teenager I wrote an assay piece based on reflections over a walk in a cemetery; most likely the best assay I ever wrote as a young adult. Even today I recall how effortlessly my pen documented the train of thoughts, as I described my stroll around the graves.
Already when I enter these sacred places, it is as if a border has been crossed. Have you ever noticed when you step into a graveyard in a bustling metropolis, that it seems as if a soundproof gate is suddenly in place, shutting out the busy sounds and scents of a living city - as if by a stroke of magic one enters an uncanny stillness of a divine ground.
This happens to me time and time again and I feel almost always as if a veil of troubles is lifted from my face and I can see clearly.
I never feel that I am surrounded by death. On the contrary, I feel surrounded by lives lived. To some, this is after all only a gateway to another world. To others simply a tribute and a memorial to those we once held dear and yet again, to almost everyone, cemeteries offer a certain snapshots of moments in history, as the inscriptions on the grave stones, standing as silent sentinels of time, tells stories of the past.
My eyes are often drawn to the infinite amounts of flowers, bushes and intricately garnished spots - it is as if nature always thrives here. Even neglected churchyards are always beautiful in any seasons, as when nature is left to grow unrestricted, it flourishes, creating the most amazing pieces of living art.
I have been to carefully maintained graveyards; some simple, some intricate, as well as to forgotten small cemeteries, which were lush and overgrown with scented shrubs - finding equal solace in each.
Sitting down below the tree crowns, at any time of the year, while letting myself become infused with the surrounding stillness is incredibly relaxing. With such an ease the troubles of my every day life are removed from my perception as I am faced with the greatest secret of them all - the secret of life and death.
At all times this reinforces the belief in me of how precious and magical our time here truly is - and most of all how limited and short - and how very often we forget this. Instead, we get caught up in the turmoil of our busy days, while we waste our time and energy on petty and insignificant things, letting ourselves succumb to unnecessary irritations.
How endlessly ignorant and irrelevant some troublesome aspects of my life appear while I sit under those trees. The true magic of just simply being alive - with all its pain and suffering as well as joy and happiness - is nowhere as palpable and appreciated, as at the only place where life appears to be truly devoid...
About the images below: My favorite place of tranquility near my home is a private, but today abandoned family graveyard located on the grounds of an old mansion, today turned museum. It is tucked away between trees, hidden from view and off the beaten path. Very few people know of its existence. The images below are taken on my walk there this past autumn and even though I was sitting there alone for almost an hour, I have never ever felt less lonely and more safe then on that early, sunny September morning.
This past week has proceeded in the spirit of the sun. As we crossed the vernal equinox a week ago, the return of the light is becoming ever so more obvious in my days and a cause for joy and celebration. Thus I am looking forward to take part in another kind of somewhat related global observance today.
One that is uniting the world and has grown over few years to connect us all - through a very simple act.
A turn of the switch, abolishing the lights for one hour - no more, no less. Such an effortless yet important contribution while the lighter evenings make this task not only enjoyable, but endlessly tranquil.
While I will watch the sun set in its true cardinal direction, enjoying this silent yet transcending show, upon its conclusion I will light a few candles and surrender to the brief connection that unifies me with nature and the rest of humanity in an almost absolute, one of a kind sense.
The sun and the moon are two celestial objects that will forever entice and captivate me.
As we reach spring and travel through into summer, I am privileged to watch the most amazing sunrises and sunsets from my panorama windows - heavenly displays that have no equal and I simply lack words to adequately describe.
And the moon - that beuatiful disc under which glow I often fall asleep during the Scandinavian white nights - has an almost uncanny hold over me.
This year, the Vernal Equinox combined the sun and the moon in the most beautiful celestial show that I have ever witnessed.
While the first spring day closed towards its end, I stood in awe as a glowing, platinum sun moved across the blood red evening sky, ready to meet the jet black western horizon. It vanished from my view in a course of just five minutes - a magical and enthralling time frame.
Some hours later, just before bedtime, as I was closing my bedroom window, I was greeted by the cool silver shine of an almost Lunar Perigee. Only a day earlier it was officially full, however the moon appeared so very majestic and perfectly round against the dark blue night sky.
I did managed to capture the most stunning Equinox sunset to date - yet I still need a better camera zoom to eternalize the moon, the natural satellite of our Earth, by which my zodiac sign appears to be ruled.
Nevertheless, both events will remain imprinted in my perception forever.
"During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you..."
This Saturday I took a walk on a nearby beach.
It was a glorious spring day and I truly enjoyed the proximity to the vernal sea.
I find so much solace in the open waters, as I inhale the scent of the salty air and listen to the sound of the soft waves, while my eyes trace the misty sea surface where it meets the horizon.
As the sun caressed my face and I walked along the shore, at one point I turned back to see my own footsteps in the supple surf and got reminded of the infinitely enlightening prose about footprints in the sand. I am sure we all know it only too well.
I recall stumbling upon those inspirational words as a young girl and I wrote them down, to revisit them often in my life, when I felt lonely and troubled.
How much they thus resonate with me today, when I feel that I carry so much responsibility on my shoulders and I feel at times so alone and abandoned.
These days my thinking is preoccupied with contemplation that questions life itself. The whole meaning of it and my own existence here as well. My entire being is consumed by a spectra of contradictory emotions. Anything from awe, happiness and incredible joy to sadness, fear and anguish. Having made a decision, one that I do not doubt for a second, yet one that seems to effect so deeply and profoundly someone so very dear to me, is weighing heavy on my heart.
I find I am unable these days to concentrate my thoughts into one single meaningful post, as they are so scattered in so many directions. It is as if suddenly a door has been opened, one that I though was forever closed for me. And as I stepped through the opened doorway, I suddenly knew that my future took a new turn as a defining moment reshaped my life.
Looking upon my footsteps in the soft sand while I took that tranquil walk, I nevertheless came to a true revelation.
Even though I feel lonely, I am not alone.
The recent events have indeed showed me who my true friends are - and I realized that true friendship often comes from the most unexpected places. It also reinforced the importance of my family, that close knit unit, those incredible people who I have known my whole life and who have always been my shelter and my inspiration.
Ultimately, there is this enchanted force, the one that indeed carries me currently through the storm.
Maybe it is divine, maybe it is spiritual. Or yet again, perhaps it is my own inner strength - I truly do not know.
Still, when I looked upon those footsteps, I knew in no uncertain terms that I was no longer alone.
Nor would I ever be.
Tomorrows Vernal Equinox signifies the definite return of the sun, while our night and day become equal in length. However, it also signals a true beginning of a new season.
The arrival of Spring is now absolutely imminent.
Even though the threat of flurries still defines the chilly air, in the precious moments when the wind settles down and the sun envelopes us in its brilliant, vernal shine, there is no doubt that Winter is ending.
The Ice Lady is truly on retreat and she prepares to pass over her reign to the younger season - the most glorious, pristine, fresh and delightful season of them all.
As I grow older, I have grown to almost adore Spring. It is the time of so much promise. A time of beautiful awakenings, when nature springs to life so very publicly, with changes which are so definite and so very obvious. At the onset of this blooming period, the miracle of birth, growth and renewal defines our nature while it emerges from her long winter slumber.
Currently my surroundings reflect this shift of seasons in no uncertain terms. The first suggestive signs can be spotted here and there, stressing subtly, yet so very firmly that the point of no return has been reached.
Once upon a time I knew an Irishman and trough him I grew very attached to everything Irish.
Even though our relationship fell apart, my infatuation with his beautiful country is still today left intact.
I still love a good whiskey, I am still mesmerized by Riverdance, Irish music and that incredibly stunning natural and rugged beauty of the country. And most of all - I still love a good pint of Guinness.
To honour today's St.Patrick's day and the memory of a good man, I decided to once again share with you my favorite Guinness commercial.
I too am a firm believer that indeed good things come to those who wait.
~ Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper. ~
As a true fatalist, I have always believed in destiny.
In the fact that everything in our lives is to a certain degree predetermined and decided. Perhaps as early as on the day we see the light as newborn, the red thread directing our life’s main destinations has already been spun – if not even before…
Yet contradictory, I have also always been a firm believer in the idea that we all choose the path in which we sail the oceans of our reality, despite the fact that we will arrive at a predestined goal.
We simply are the ones who decide the journey.
As the journey itself can wary in so many ways, it eventually arbitrates the quality and the content of our lives.
The older I get, the more this belief structure rings true in my ears, as my own past experiences reinforce this so clearly.
We have an expression in my native language, which can be translated to the likes of “Forcing One’s Destiny”.
It has a negative ring to it and is used to illustrate the task of pursuing a hopeless goal. An endeavor that is not meant to be, as all the attempts are failing and all the signs are telling us that our efforts are futile.
In those instances it is difficult to know, when - or even if - one should give in and give up.
In certain areas of my life, I have often found myself doing just that, forcing my destiny. Simply pursuing something that was not meant to be. I have been lost on more detours and wrong turns than I care to account for. As a true fatalist, ultimately I always made my peace with the outcome and was thus never left with any regrets.
Then again, there has also been things that came easy to me. The flow of events proceeded effortlessly, each step a success, without too much struggle or obstacles to overcome. Sadly, those endeavors I paid very little attention to - as a human I am flawed and have a tendency to focus on what went wrong, rather then on what went right.
Today as I look back and recollect the travels through my life, I find it amusing to conclude that I could never ever escape my destiny. Everything that I went through, all the failures, sadness, heartache as well as the happiness and the success were leading me to today. All the memorable encounters and all those wonderful mistakes that made me into who I am, these as well shaped the path I traveled. Perhaps if I would have relaxed and gone with the flow, I might have experienced a plethora of adventures of a quiet different kind then those I carry in my recollection - still, I believe I would have found myself exactly here, at this very same spot as I do now.
This realization opens up a brand new avenue in my thinking, making me aware of how little control over my life I actually hold in my hands.
As middle age is knocking on my door and I once again find myself facing a change in my life, I nevertheless feel oddly at peace as I know that my destiny will guide me through. Having followed my heart and finding myself recurrently in a raging storm, I have decided this time to no longer pursue what is not meant to be, but to follow the signs and look for shelter.
As the restlessness of youth and the energy to go against the wind settles down a bit within my inner core, I am ready to completely surrender to my fate.
However this time I am fully determined to pay more attention to the doors that are open then frantically trying to open those that are locked, as I would love to sail more tranquil oceans on the journey that I have left in front of me.
Yet, in an odd and almost ominous way I sense somewhere deep within, that despite all of this, I am about to embark on the adventure of my life.
~ I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be. ~
~ We are not here on earth to change our destiny, but to fulfill it. ~
I love trees.
In any season, in any weather, any kind.
There is something majestic, impressive and almost comforting about this living architecture. Trees are never the same as they change through the seasons, yet they are always constant and always just simply there.
On numerous occasions I have found solace just by gazing at their luscious crowns, as they sway in the summer breeze. Often when everything around me crumbles, resolves or goes trough an unsettling transition, the presence of Birches just outside my windows or Chestnuts and Oaks lining my favorite trails seems to at all times put my mind at ease.
Last weekend, as the first glorious spring weather settled over southern Scandinavia I took a walk near my home, along my favorite natural path, where I often go to seek solitude and tranquility.
I was greeted by spring trees, in all their pristine austerity. Their bare branches, twisting and turning, like natural artwork rising above my head, the colour of earthy dark tones, appeared in such a strong contrast against the azure blue vernal sky, holding so much promise.
Seemingly dead and lifeless, I know that appearance can be so deceiving at times. So much life is preparing to push through, hidden and protected deep within the twigs, beneath the bark, away from the chill of the early spring air.
Glancing at the last traces of snow and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, as I stood in between the seasons, I suddenly knew in no uncertain terms that a change is on the way.
March signifies the return of the sun - in no uncertain terms. The golden disc has once again returned to my westerly view, setting almost directly in this true cardinal direction.
Last weekend the skies were clear and my windows offered a view of the setting sun, for the first time this year. The event took slightly more than five minutes, although the skies remained light for almost an additional hour - thus the festival of the return of the light has once again begun.
Come to think of it, I have always enjoyed writing. According to my mother, already as a little girl, barely having learned to hold a pen in my hand, I wrote small stories. Mostly fiction I believe, products of my own imagination, although I recall vaguely being inspired by fairy tales read to me before bed time or recollections I overheard being told by others.
When I was about eight years old, I decided to write letters to all my relatives, pretty much everyone I could think off. I no longer remember the details, such as how I got hold of the addresses, but I know that without my parents knowledge, I send all the letters away. Without stamps. The idea of a paying a postage was not included in my perception when it came to letter writing. However, I knew very well that the orange box at the corner of the street, on my way to school, was intended for the envelopes that somehow would find their way to the recipient.
I can not recall the outcome of the whole incident that well, only that my parents were anything but pleased when they learned that most of our relatives would have to pay a postage fine, as I obviously failed to include the return address.
However, I recall the fate of one letter - the one send to my grandparents, which was delivered around the time when my parents, my sister and I came by for a visit. My grandfather read the letter out loud to my great dismay and embarrassment. Still, I could clearly see that the aggravation on my parents face became displaced by a expression of amusement and fascination. Thus I guess eventually, they did forgive me.
Growing older, I endlessly enjoyed writing assays in high school as a teenager. I recall the scent of the large auditorium, where hundreds of students were confined for hours, in order to produce written stories on a given subject. Even though I was always apprehensive about any kind of test, as soon as the stillness settled over the large assembly hall, I got completely lost in my own thoughts, while the words effortlessly filled the blank paper in front of me. Depicting my visions in letters came easy to me and my good grades reflected this.
Unfortunately, my last teacher in this subject developed a dislike for me and my style. She focused blindly on all the grammar errors, which defined my writing, then undertaken in a foreign language, but which did not detract from the contents, as I have been told by my previous teachers. Her scrutiny, which was borderline viscous, deterred me from enjoying to write all together - and I rather focused on channeling my imagination into painting instead.
When I begun to work in science as a young adult, I realized that as much as I loved the practical aspects of research, I also relished in compiling the data and I enjoyed writing scientific papers, something most other scientists detest. However it was not until I started to write my posts here that I rediscover my passion for expressing myself in this way.
There is so much power in the written word. We all know it way too well, as we have all experienced a plethora of emotions when we read a great book. We become educated and enlightened, we can travel in time and space, we are touched to tears or amused until we laugh. The words create images in our perception, make us contemplate and envision or simply just provide a playground to our imagination. Skillful writers have the potential to make a difference and the great literary works lining the bookshelves in famous or prestigious libraries bear witness to this fact.
To me writing has over the years become an outlet. Not just of the creative kind, the one I share with all of you here, where I can convey my impressions, thoughts and sentiments. There is also the therapeutic kind as well.
Almost any kind of pain or suffering can be channeled into words. Writing down what troubles me, in form of letters which will never become send, is an unusually effective relief. I guess, almost as a form of a diary, where private and personal thoughts are told to an unseen confidant in a written language, immortalizing ideas and feelings in a document seems to be not just a form of release, but also a way of organizing the train of dark thoughts. Once they leave my consciousness and become visualized on the screen in front of me, they feel less threatening and loose their hold on me.
As with any other kind of creativity, to write is to express ones innermost feelings and thoughts - by creating images using words and painting pictures with sentences. Whether shared with others or not, this creative outlet connects our imagination with our intellect, reflecting and documenting our life and eventually immortalizing us in the written lines.
My bedroom faces east and thus I can enjoy being awaken by subtle sunshine during the summer months, when the midnight sun rules our reality and the dawn occurs late at night.
Most of the views I share with you here are however taken from my large living-room panorama window, which faces west and from which I watch the most stunning sunsets. Occasionally I have shown sunrises, still these captures are rare.
It is also towards the east that another rare view can be enjoyed on clear late autumn and winter day. The view of the ocean.
Only visible when the birch trees lining the view are bare, it is nevertheless a sight that I find incredibly enticing. With my new camera I have been able to immortalize it in a new way, capturing the many faces of the bay lying beneath the hill. As much as the sea can be calm and azure blue one day, its mood can also be dark and menacing, turning to the colour of steel the very next, as seen on the images below, taken a couple of weeks ago, twenty four hours apart.
March is most likely the last month I get the pleasure to enjoy the flickering warmth of the fire on regular bases.
Soon, as the spring sun will grow stronger and when the winds settle down, my terrace will once again become my favorite spot to relax, retiring my fireplace for the season.
Fire has always held my fascination. Perhaps it is the connection I feel with the ancient man, when fire truly meant life. It offered so much to our predecessors in terms of safety, warmth and companionship.
The scientist in me is also endlessly intrigued by the consistency of the amber coloured flames, which resemble nothing else one can recognize. An airy magma, a fleeting, burning shape, that alters and changes within a microsecond, to disappear and reappear rapidly, a hypnotic show, that causes us to get lost in in time and space.
Everyone who has ever tried to photograph a fire knows it is not an easy task. To capture the dancing flames, as they jump back and forth is a true undertaking. But if one is persistent, once in a while the camera lens immortalizes an enchanting moment.
Brushstrokes of light, science and natural art combined in one.
I was born under the Tatra Mountains, to a Czech father and a Slovak mother. I grew up in Sweden and lived almost ten years in North Carolina.
More than a decade ago my line of work took me to Denmark, where I live today. My home, which I share with the man that holds my heart, lies in the northerly part of a Danish peninsula, in the proximity of endless, wide and pristine westbound sandy beaches, surrounded by the rough and untamed North Sea.
My writing is defined by reflections on my cosmopolitan past and my intriguing present. Ultimately I try to convey in words and images my personal thoughts and feelings about life itself, with all its magic, natural splendour and the beauty of simple pleasures.