March 31, 2010

The Easter Bunny Explained.

Most of us are well familiar with the tradition of the Easter Bunny, but perhaps a few are aware of the origins to this lovely spring customs.

Commonly, the cute furry creature, that is sometimes depicted wearing cute clothes, brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. The Easter Bunny will either put the baskets in a designated place or hide them somewhere in the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

Some claim that the the Easter Bunny, just like the tradition of the Christmas Tree originated in southwestern Germany, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, where it was first recorded in a German publication in the early 1600s. A century later, the tradition was introduced to America by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The first edible Easter Bunnies likewise originated in Germany during the early 1800s and were made of pastry and sugar.

Other legends suggest that the Easter Bunny has roots in the pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxon history. The holiday was originally a pagan celebration that worshipped the goddess Eastre. She was the goddess of fertility and springtime and her earthly symbol was the rabbit. Thus the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons worshipped the rabbit believing it to be Eastre's earthly incarnation.

When the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity, the pagan holiday, which occurred around the same time as the Christian memorial of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, was combined with the Christian celebration and given the name Easter.

In any case, a bunny at Easter - whether a chocolate one or as a decorations - together with colourful eggs is as essential as the Tree is at Christmas.

And the one below must be the cutest one I have ever seen.

March 30, 2010

Brazil - A Photo Tag.

A while ago I was tagged in a Photo Meme by the very lovely sprinkles. I am suppose to find my first picture folder and list the tenth picture and the story behind it.
Anyone who feels like doing this meme, please be my guests.

I looked up the first picture folder on my stationary computer in my study. That folder, titled Brazil 2004 contained pictures from my trip to Brazil in 2004.

In November 2004 I took part in a scientific meeting held in Angra dos Reis in southeast Brazil.
The meeting was taking place on a secluded resort in the middle of a rain forest, on a coast surrounded by small island. Beside scientific work, there was truly enough time for leisure as well. The door of my room opened directly onto a sandy beach and those 3 days that the weather was actually sunny, offered some incredibly beautiful and relaxing moments on a tranquil and serene sandy shore. The picture below - which was the tenth picture in that folder - was taken on a day like that, a few steps outside my room.

It was an absolute paradise for any biologist, as the rain forest nearby was filled with exotic plants and animals that I have never seen before, nor will I ever see again. However, rain forest means rain. Therefore those almost two weeks at the resort after the meeting concluded, were spend mostly sitting under an umbrella.

All this aside, this tripe made for memories to last a life time. And for many exotic images to help recalling those moments.

March 29, 2010

May I Ask...

...what is in your refrigerator?

Inside that wonderful little (or big) appliance, that we can not imagine our lives without today? It has been around since the 1920 - starting in a much simpler form - and before the invention of the refrigerator, icehouses were used to provide cool storage for most of the year. Placed near freshwater lakes or packed with snow and ice during the winter, they were once very common.

The first known artificial refrigeration was demonstrated by William Cullen at the University of Glasgow in 1748. The first refrigerator to see widespread use was the General Electric "Monitor-Top" refrigerator introduced in 1927. The science behind how a refrigerator works is explained in detail here, but in short, it operates on a principle of a coolant turning from liquid into a gas.

I have a small refrigerator; half fridge (top) and half freezer (bottom). It looks a bit old fashioned, even though it is not old. Yet, it fits very well in my rustic kitchen, which is furnished with wooden tabletops and wooden cabinets. The door of the fridge is cluttered with objects of affection, such as pictures of my family, postcards, magnets from my trips and a calender.

So, what is is inside it you might ask? Usually not much, as I am a lousy cook, but here is a list of things you can always find in my refrigerator:

A Bottle of Champagne (or sparkling wine)
I am always ready for a celebration.

Lemon Juice
I add it to my drinking water and use it as a substitute for fresh lemons, in case I do not have those at home.

I love cheese and can not imagine not having at least one cheese sandwich a day.

I am crazy about eggs, I could literally live on them. In fact, I almost do. Despite the fact that they are considered to be high in fat and cholesterol content, eggs are very rich in many minerals and vitamins. Particularly vitamin D, which we up here living in the North get way too little off in the winter. I love eggs in any way, even raw. My favorite is raw egg yolk on a freshly cooked pasta. Mmmmm...

Skim Milk
For breakfast and for cooking. The little cooking that I actually do, such as making an omelet.

Sandwich Bread
I eat a lot of bread. My favorite are bread roles and I indeed keep always a bag of frozen ones in my freezer. I also always have a bag of bread to toast in my fridge as well.

Thus, may I ask, what can always be found in your refrigerator?

March 27, 2010

The Time Of Crocuses.

This past week marked the true beginning of the reign of Spring in southern Scandinavia. With temperatures in the late 50's, nature visibly turns green and the first flowers are at last in bloom.

Today was a sunny but chilly day, in contrast to a warm and very rainy night. As I did the first gardening of the season, I marveled over the progress that is so visible in my small garden. All the bulbs I planted in October are sprouting. Some are just barely pushing through the dirt, such as tulips, while hyacinths and daffodils display fresh and green stalks.

The only flowers in bloom are crocuses.
I simply love this first real flower of the spring. So resilient, yet so fragile, it appears so enchanted, as it pushes through the remains of the last snow already in early February. Clearly able to withstand frost and growing through ice, it is a miracle of nature in my eyes. At all times a sign of life, it is a consolation when spring is still very elusive and sun barely present. And then, when the sun returns with the vernal equinox, it displays beautiful crowns that turn toward the first sunshine, bursting with yellow, blue, purple or white, so symbolic of renewal and joy of new beginnings.

Today, when I uncovered the last sprouting bulbs, by removing old autumns leaves and protective bark - I found a butterfly.
It looked tired and fragile, fluttering its wings, drinking the warmth of the spring sun. I could easily pick it up and relished close up in its beauty. A rare moment in time, so unreal in the height of summer when this gentle being will never stand still long enough to admire. Within minutes, as the butterfly absorbed enough heat from my hand, it lifted its wings and gained altitude, drifting away from my view on a gentle spring breeze...

And so it begins, the best time of the year is here.

March 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: "BangaBoomerang".

The first musical interest of mine was without doubt the mega successful Swedish group Abba. I was barely eight and I remember listening to the records my parents would play and immediately found absolute appeal in hits such as Dancing Queen, When I Kissed The Teacher and Fernando, my mothers favourite. I recall that very intriguing cover of Arrival, where the members of the group sit in a glass helicopter and I looked at it with awe and fascination as the beat to the undying melodies was streaming from the stereo.

Considering that Abba was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 2010, I thought I simply have to share at least one of their hits.
I decided to go for one that is less known internationally, but became a smash hit for Swedish duo called Svenne & Lotta, for whom this single was written to be performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1975. Although the track was included on the Abba's first Greatest Hits album, released on 17 November 1975, the ABBA version was in fact never issued as a single in Scandinavia.

Aside from the somewhat badly composed title - with a strange choice of words, Bang-A-Boomerang is my absolute personal Abba favorite. Hope you will enjoy it too, as well as the wonderfully laid back video (including the fabulous 70's fashion), filmed in what I believe to be Stockholm in spring.

March 25, 2010

Theme Thursday: "Sign".

Or "Lost In Translation".

I decided to participate in Theme Thursdays this week as I just could not miss the opportunity to share a fun story about a sign.

Posted in an article on the BBC news site, it tells an amusing incident with a road sign that was standing near a supermarket in Swansea, printed in both English and Welsh.

The sign was comissioned by the Swansea Council, that sent an email to its in-house translations service to have this road sign translated into Welsh:

"No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only."

However, the Welsh translator wasn't in his office at the time, thus an automated "out of office" mail response was sent back to council officials. They were under the impression though that what they recieved was indeed the needed translation, when in fact it stated:

"I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

Unaware of the real meaning of the message, authorities had it printed on the road sign under the English text. The sign was removed as soon as the official became aware of the mistake; however not before a few pictures were taken and news stories were written.

(For more sign translation blunders, please see this article.)

March 23, 2010

The Oldest Cities.

One of the the major appeals of Europe - in my eyes at least - has always been it's rich history. The old age of this ancient landmass is reflected in almost any of its cities or towns. Numerous archaeological finds, dating back centuries in time make this continent an absolute paradise for anyone who finds history intriguing.

To me it is of outermost fascination to walk around the streets of old towns, where the tides of times can be read in every cobbled stone, where one can physically touch walls which has seen centuries of life and death, laughter and tears - where thoughts that redefined our history were conceived and decisions that changed our world were made.
The fact that I live in one of the fifty oldest cities in the world - and actually in the oldest Scandinavian city - makes my location on the map quiet interesting.

On the same note one would ask; Which is the oldest city in the world?

The answer to this is actually not that simple. After researching the web I found that another question should be asked first; what is actually considered a city? Closely followed by the limiting factor whether one is looking to find the oldest continuously inhibited city or just the absolute oldest city, that no longer exist. That of course is somewhat tricky, as the oldest city might yet have to be uncovered.

As the case is with any information find online, I have to say that there are conflicting reports to what is actually the true oldest city in the world. However, most sites list Damascus, the capital of Syria, located on the Asian continent as the oldest known city in the world. Inhabited as early as 10000 BC, it became a city of importance first around 1400BC. This is closely followed by Jericho (3000 BC) located on the West Bank and Byblos (5000 BC) in Lebanon.

In Europe, the oldest cities are found on the Greek Islands of Crete; Chania and Larnaca on Cyprus, and Athens, on the European continent, all dating back to around 1400 BC.

On the African continent, the oldest city Fayium is positioned in Lower Egypt dating back to 4000 BC.

In the Americas, the oldest city is considered to be Ticul in Mexico, from the 7th century BC and in the US most likely Acoma Pueblo and Taos Pueblo in New Mexico with settlements dating back to ca 1075 AD.

In 1999, archeologist began an excavation of Hamoukar in northeastern Syria, most likely the oldest city in the world, or at least one of the oldest. Inhabited some 6000 years ago, it came to redefine the traditional concept of the city appearance and the civilization on Earth.

March 22, 2010


A word evoking a plethora of images and emotions within us. Smooth texture, bursts of taste, feeling of comfort and happiness. Seductive pleasure. Who doesn't love the taste of this ancient indulgence?

In any case, chocolate is simply the best thing I know, even though my preference is white chocolate, which by some is not considered true chocolate at all. This due to the fact that it lacks the cocoa solids.
The raw material for chocolate production; cocoa mass, comes from the beans of the Cacao Tree, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Central and South America. Cocoa mass was used originally in Mesoamerica both as a beverage and as an ingredient in foods. The earliest chocolate beverages were made by the Aztecs. Known as Xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning "bitter water", most likely due to the fact that the seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor.

The Maya civilization used the cacao beans to make a frothy, bitter drink used for ceremonial purposes and in addition to everyday life. The chocolate residue found in an early ancient Maya pot in Río Azul, Guatemala, suggests that Maya were drinking chocolate around 400 AD.
Until the 16th century, no European had ever heard of this popular drink used by the Central and South American people. It was not until the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs that chocolate could be imported to Europe.

Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. While it is regularly eaten for pleasure, it has been linked to particular health benefits in the human body. Dark chocolate benefits the circulatory system, lowers blood pressure and it has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain.

March 20, 2010

Crossing The Vernal Equinox.

While everything around me seem to be waking up from its months long slumber, I too feel invigorated from my short, but vital time of rest. It was not a complete physical rest, although I certainly would wish for one very soon, still it felt beneficial to keep my thinking occupied with other matters than the inspiration to prose composing. At times, it is wonderful to fuel our perception with fresh images and thoughts, without having to feel the need to put them down in writing.

Winter is now truly departing. Although it takes it's time and will most likely leave us in a dust of snow as it hits the road, the point of no return has been reached.
Spring has crossed the doorstep and with it, the Vernal Equinox brought the warmth of the renewed daylight, signifying the absolute end of the reign of winter nights and thus the true beginning of a new season.

The winter landscape, that just a week ago displayed the last traces of snow has vanished. It is almost surreal to see the exposed, frost burned grass and it feels utterly strange to be stepping on a snow free ground. However, a welcomed spring rain drenched the nature with the vital fluid of life, getting it ready to renew itself. Soon the yellow and dry will turn into juicy green.

As the sunlight returns to dominate our days, I look forward to see my garden come to life once again. The coldest winter in fifteen years has slowed down this progress somewhat, but perhaps this will only extend our joy as nature gradually brings back the first green hue mixed with colours of the first bloom.

(Please, click the below image to enlarge.)

March 15, 2010


I am taking a short break from writing, but will return soon. Have a wonderful week everyone.

March 13, 2010

Last Traces...

The days have became significantly warmer and thus our snow is slowly, but surely melting. As soon as the vital spring rays hit the remains of the old, white, icy precipitation, it turns slowly into small streams of liquid, collecting in pools here and there.

The magic of the sun is reflected in all the spring plants that grow taller by each day. My very first crocus is almost in bloom, flaunting its blue crown, standing tall and majestic. So delicate, yet so strong, this first flower of spring holds my outermost admiration.

While Lady Winter packs her bags, preparing to pass the reign over to Lady Spring, there is also a slight melancholy connected to the vanishing of the snow. As its inner most layers are exposed with the last thaw, bringing back fallen autumn leaves, I recognize in it the first snow that fell some ninety days ago. That magical first snow, that brought us our white Christmas and transferred the dull, grey landscape into an enchanted fairytale.

As I relish in all the joy and renewal that is so palpable in the air with the changing of the seasons, I still pause a moment to reflect over our departing winter; a unique one and a magnificent one in every way.

March 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: "If I Can't Have You".

The first time I saw and heard Yvonne Elliman was in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar, where she played the role of Mary Magdalene. I was completely captivated by the film and by her performance of the well known song I don't Know How To Love Him. The music felt very powerful and enticed my young mind like very few compilation had before. I sat mesmerized watching the musical, holding my breath.

Later I realized that Yvonne Elliman also performed as a backing vocalist for Eric Clapton on many of his 1970s hits, including "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Lay Down Sally".
I guess she is known through many songs, today however I decided to share her biggest number one hit from 1977, "If I Can't Have You". It was featured on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack and was written by the Bee Gees.

I hope you enjoy this flashback to the glittering disco days, when the right music was played and when the dance floor was the place to be on a Saturday night.

March 11, 2010

Spring Tiredness.

Sometimes called Spring Fever, it is a somewhat strange syndrome, but it does exist. I am feeling a slight onset of it these days. Despite the fact that the light is increasing visibly each passing day, I do not feel energized.
At least not just yet.

Spring Tiredness has not been officially categorized as a illness, however it is very much a subject of discussions here in the North. Very obvious in latitudes where the length of the days and nights varies extensively throughout the year, the Scandinavians are well familiar with this phenomenon initiated by a change in the seasons. With an onset in March, we feel very tired and almost exhausted, moody and irritated. Uninterested and at time even slightly depressed.

The cause to spring tiredness is not completely clear, however hormones might play a role. During winter, when the days are short and nights long, the sleep hormone, melatonin is in charge. As soon as the daylight increases, melatonin levels drop and a new hormone, so called "happy hormone" starts to be produced; serotonine. While the battle between the hormones is ongoing, we feel exhausted. But as soon as serotonine levels stabilizes, so does our mood.

To me it seems that as soon as March ends, so does the fever. As soon as the first true spring day arrives, when we reach the spring equinox and when the snow traces are all gone and when the daffodils display their yellow flowers, my energy will return with the victory of my serotonine.

March 10, 2010

Significant Sunset.

This past Saturday evening, a significant event could be observed outside my windows.
A true return of the sun.
Once again, for months to come, bright sunny days will end with spectacular light shows, offering views of painted sky and fiery sunsets.

The month of March means that the sun is truly back. I can not stress often enough how much this means to the Scandinavians. Setting now almost four hours later then during the winter solstice, the sun is visibly changing everything around us. The sunsets are no longer fragile and short, but powerful and extended. This comeback is at all times a cause for celebration.

I made my own tribute to commemorate the return of the golden disk by documenting its first visible setting in pictures. It might be of interest to mention that the first picture is taken at 05:44PM while the last at 07:05PM, clearly underscoring the fact, that the time from sun to dark is already in spring largely extended.

March 08, 2010

Maritime Art.

I love the ocean.
I have mentioned this numerous times in the past and many of my posts are dedicated to this large, enticing body of water.

To gaze across the ever changing surface of the sea is the most liberating sensation. Standing in its proximity, while listening to the sounds of the surf, feasting my eyes on the mixed colours of the rolling waves, tasting the salty air as the ocean kisses my lips and with every breath I take, drawing in the scent of the maritime aerosol mixed with the fragrance of seaweed is in essence an experience for all my senses.

The most intriguing fact about the ocean is that it is never the same. Every time I see it, I am in for a surprise. Not one snapshot I carry in my memory is identical to the next. Even the slightest change in the wind, the presence or absence of clouds above it, not to mention the seasons, make the view of the sea always seem brand new.

Whenever I get the chance, I take walks on one of the many nearby beaches. Last Friday I stopped by the sea on my day off, a day full with sunshine and the first presence of spring in the air.
Only three weeks ago, this beach had a feel of the arctic, with its water front frozen solid. The heavy ice is now all gone, as if it never existed, thus dispersing my fears of the opposite.
The sandy beach was clear and even though the remains of snow could be seen here and there, the beach appeared quite a different place today than in February. The sound of gentle waves hitting the shore felt soothing and comforting.
The sand was littered with small treasures in the form of seaweed and sea shells, creating a beautiful maritime art, using the white sand as a canvas. Some of the shells and stones looked almost as if they belonged in a jewelry piece, shinning with blue luster and pearl essence.

My walk on this early spring beach cleared mind and soul, filing my entire being with optimism. The air was still and the absence of wind made the place serene and tranquil, bringing back the memories of the summer sea.
We are not quiet there just yet, but getting closer by each and every day.

March 06, 2010

Change Of Seasons.

This beautiful winter view is taken today in my backyard. It shows an old wooden sun chair, covered with apples and seeds to help the birds get through one of the coldest winters on record.

A winter that is ending.

Although that seems not be the case, judging by the snow covered ground in my photograph. The snow has an icy crust, compliments of the last freeze that has been holding us in its iron grip this past week, bringing cold, dry air and abundant sunshine, however putting an abrupt end to our first thaw. It turned water to ice causing some of my pots to break.

Still, spring is knocking on the door. This is most significantly visible in the sunlight; gone is the orange and golden hue. The rays shine brighter, turning our daylight platinum, as the shadows grow shorter.
The sun causes nature to awaken. Early flower stalks are pushing up through the hard, frozen ground and even through ice. The birch trees have visible buds and it will not be long before the pollen from their flowers fills the air once again, bringing back my progressive photography.

The nature is full of the old and the new. Old withered plants, such as my frozen rose, that is now decaying putrefied on its dry stalk. In such a contrast to the fresh yellow flowers of my Eranthis, finally in bloom, basking in the welcomed spring sunshine. I even spotted a lonely ladybug that was waking up after its winter sleep.

After my short walk, barely feeling my numb fingers, I still gladly retreated to my favourite cosy chair in front of my fireplace, recalling with amusement a rhyme in the Czech language. Each month of the year is described with one sentence, that signifies what the month is all about - the one for the month of March goes something like this; "March - lets crawl closer to the fire".

Even though I still crawl back to the fire, when I look out of my large window, I can sense with unmistakable certainty that the change of seasons is truly in the air.

(Please, click to enlarge.)

March 05, 2010

Flashback Friday: "Oh Sherrie".

I honestly do not recall when I first heard of Steve Perry. I believe it was in late 80's. His songs were played on the radio and I was familiar with some of them. In any case I knew of Steve way before I knew of Journey, even though he became famous as the groups lead singer.

Perry released his solo album "Street Talk" in 1984 and I stumbled upon it once while browsing the music section in a department store in North Carolina in 1992. My favorite single from this album is without a question "Oh Sherrie". It is perfect through and through, with stunning harmonies, showing off the incredible power and the extensive vocal range in Perry's voice. I love the way the song builds up and the catching chorus stays in one's mind long after the song has ended.
And in one's memories forever.

March 04, 2010

75 Millions And A Tag.

75 million Danish Kroner. That is about 13 million dollars. And some change.
That is how big the jackpot was in yesterday's national Danish lottery draw, the biggest ever apparently.

It got me thinking about money. I have never won any money and most likely never will. I never buy lottery tickets as I will not win and so there is no need to waste some perfectly good money on a loosing ticket. Money is a funny subject and everyone has an opinion.
To me it means two things: freedom and trouble.

Money is of course a necessity. I will not deny that I would happily accept one million Danish Kroner, just to pay off my mortgage. But I am not really interested in the rest. Such large sum would only keep me awake late at night, worrying about how to invest it and who to trust.

No, my dreams and source of happiness have never been tied to money. That is why I will most likely never have enough of it.

On another note, I have also been tagged (ages ago) by the lovely Tina over at Gal Friday by so called "Twos Meme". Basically, it means answering one question by listing two objects (subjects) in the answers. Anyone up for taking on this challenge is welcomed to it.

Two names you go by:
1. Zuzana.
2. Lilly.

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Large earrings.
2. Makeup.

Two things you did last night:
1. Talked to the handsome Man from Ireland.
2. Slept.

Two Pets that you have or have had:
1. Gypsi (a cat).
2. Batcat (a cat).

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Absolutely nothing (while relaxing and daydreaming).
2. Gardening.

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. To see my Irishman.
2. To have a long vacation at home.

Last Two things you ate:
1. Boring lunch consisting of steamed vegetables.
2. A piece of Moser Roth chocolate.

Two people you last talked to:
1. A student in the lab.
2. The departmental janitor.

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
1. Trying to get more firewood.
2. Working.

Two of the longest trips taken:
1. Drove across the US (east to west and back).
2. Flew from Europe to Brazil. I am never doing that again.

Two favorite beverages:
1. A Vodka Martini; shaken, not stirred. One olive.
2. A well poured Guinness.

March 03, 2010

The Rising Moon.

Driving home from work on Monday evening this week, as I was passing the coast, a magnificent moon was seen rising just above the bay. It was almost full. The evening sky was jet black and absolutely pristine and the image I saw was mesmerizing.

The disc was large and very bright, reflecting in the surf of the "arctic beach", which is still snow covered, but yet once again ice free. Almost as if suspended in the horizon, the nearby lighthouse could be seen underneath the moon as a small light dot, turning on and off with regular intervals. All this created an almost enchanted landscape. I simply had to stop to take a picture.

With my camera at home, all I had in my bag was my iPhone and the pictures I took became unclear, resembling a rather diffused aquarelle, doing no justice to the reality as I recall it on that magical Monday evening.

Determined to capture a better picture on my way back from work at the same time a day later (yesterday), I was equipped and ready with my camera, battery fully loaded. The evening was yet again clear, but to my surprise, no moon was in sight. Bummer! Compared to the sun, which rises and sets with minimal difference from one day to another, the moonrise can differ as much as one and a half hour within a span of 24 hours.

Not that the pictures would have been much different. Not being able to capture adequately the image of the moon has caused my irritation level to rise on many occasions. I love my small "point and shoot" camera, but it has no zoom to speak off and thus my moon pictures continue to look bad.

Just before bedtime yesterday, as I was extinguishing the lantern outside my front door, the white disc was once again visible in the night sky. Smaller then the day before and partly obstructed by clouds. I could not resist taking one more fuzzy shot, this time with my camera.

This natural satellite of Earth holds my everlasting fascination and thus I can not help continuously trying to capture the beauty of this celestial object, no mater the quality of my pictures.

March 02, 2010

The New 7Wonders.

I have always been very intrigued by the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World. As a child I used to repeat them in my mind numerous times, in order to remember them and had at one point a news paper clip with pictures of all of the wonders on the wall in my room, just above my desk.

I think mostly I was intrigued by the notion that they are no longer around. All are gone. All except for one. The best one of them all, the Great Pyramid Of Giza. This is the only remaining wonder and so a lifelong dream was born when I was a little girl, to one day be able to visit the pyramids.

Therefore I paid attention and early on joined the new movement, started by Swiss-originated Canadian filmmaker and aviator Bernard Weber in September 1999. He established a project that attempted to update the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World concept with a modern list of wonders, that came to be called The New Wonders Of The World.
The project's web site started in 2001 and the associated Foundation claimed that more than 100 million votes were cast through the Internet or by telephone. Of course, I did cast my vote as well in the beginning of last decade.
The final seven wonders were announced on 7th of July 2007 (07/07/07) in Lisbon, Portugal and these are the one that made the winning list:

1. Chichen Itza (Mexico)
2. Christ The Redeemer (Brazil)
3. Colosseum (Italy)
4. Great Wall Of China (China)
5. Machu Picchu (Peru)
6. Petra (Jordan)
7. Taj Mahal (India)
( Giza Pyramid Complex (Egypt) - the remaining wonder of the ancient world)

Interestingly, I have seen two of the new wonders. I visited the Collosseum in Rome as a teenager in 1983 and the memory is everlasting. In 2004 I faced my fear of flying and flew to Rio de Janeiro, where I visited the second wonder, the Christ statue.

But I still have yet to gaze at the pyramids, the wonder of my childhood dreams and imagination.

March 01, 2010

The First Thaw.

Nature never stops surprising me. What a difference two days can make. As we begin a new month and the first month of spring, I am very happy to announce that when I looked out of my bedroom window yesterday, the large icicle that used to hang there for almost three months was gone.
As if by magic, over night it disappeared. The landscape was foggy and when I opened the window, the sound of dripping and running water could be heard.

This was our first thaw.
It arrived unexpectedly and lasted two days, bringing the first plus degrees of the year - and actually even the first rain since early December. I never remember welcoming rain with such a joy.
It caused some snow to vanish, turning into a brown slush. Most of it is still around though, as the ground is still frozen and it will take more than a couple of days of thaw to make it disappear all together.

I decided to look for spring signs on the few, small uncovered areas around my house. My heart literally skipped a beat when I did find signs of life.
Just next to the house, on a small grassy area below the bushes lining my terrace, a tiny flower was almost in bloom. It is the first early flower to bloom in Scandinavia (besides Snowdrop) and it is called Eranthis. It is yellow, cup-shaped and appears so fragile, yet this is an incredibly resilient plant, so significant of the early spring in my part of the world.
Even the stalks of Crocuses were clearly visible in the vicinity and on my back terrace, on a shielded area under a window, Daffodil stalks were shooting through the ground.
And finally, the long, brown, lonely branches of my Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) displayed visible buds.

I can not describe in words the joy that I felt gazing at these small miracles of nature. It felt as if it was trying to comfort us, telling us that winter will eventually end. Even though the weather has now turned for the worst again, with threat of snow in the air and the temperature has dipped below freezing, this clearly was the first unmistakable sign signifying that spring is imminent.