August 30, 2010

"Le Château".

My sister would probably disagree with amusement, but in my opinion; she indeed lives in a real Château.
But let me start at the beginning.

As I have mentioned many times in the past; I am a nervous flier. Actually, I have been a non flier for the past six years. The reasons to my phobia are too illogical and too uninteresting to discuss here, but they are nevertheless very real to me. Over time though, I slowly began entertaining the thought of boarding a plane again and recently decided to try to conquer my fear of flying.

Thus, a few weeks ago I found myself at an airport, a place that used to haunt my dreams. After consuming a few drinks that helped me to loose a bit of that control I so indefinitely crave, I boarded (and survived) two flights that took me to Switzerland to see my sister and her family. I did almost crushed the hand of my companion at starts and landings, but eventually I made it through the flights. And what is even more amazing, I might consider to fly again.

My younger sister met and married a French-Swiss gentleman and today they reside in his hometown by Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman, as it is correctly called. The family, including three children, live in a tranquil Château, which used to house a line of family of a distant relative to my brother in law. My sister and her husband consider it only a big house, but to me it looks like a Château indeed, complete with towers, attic and maybe even a haunted cellar.

It is in any case a beautiful mansion, set in a park like garden with stunning views of the French Alps, surrounded by wine yards and meadows. Our room was situated on the top floor with breathtaking outlook across the lake over the mountains and the famous town of Évian, whose lights flickered reflecting in the water in the evenings. Every morning as I woke up to the sound of water fountain and cow bells (belonging to cows that would graze on the nearby meadows), I had to pinch myself to make sure I was indeed still not dreaming.

My sister, without a doubt, lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. I enjoyed every second being in her company and that of her family. When we all sat at the dinner table I felt happiness to the extend I can not describe in words, as I was surrounded by people that mean so much to me. All in a beautiful setting, with a sensation of peace and security.

There is nothing stronger than a family bond. I have never appreciated my entire family more than I do now, when I get to see them once a year at the best. Still, not even the distance - geographical or in time - can erase the bond of blood, that is so very palpable when we are apart. And even more when we are together.

August 28, 2010

Bittersweet Conclusions.

They say that; "No man (or woman) needs a vacation more then the one who just came back from it", and let me tell you, ain't that the truth.

As I return to the familiar routines in my life, once again in solitude with only Batcat to keep me company, I recall with bittersweet sensation my experiences of the past few weeks. In not so distant future, these will become wonderful memories, which will keep me warm in the coming months, when cold and dark days will reign my part of the world. I decided to dedicate the next few posts to this recollection, but before I share with you those precious moments, let me first share with you - in pictures and words - the natural beauty that envelops my white house right now.

The eighth month of the year is closing towards its end. Slowly, there is a palpable change in the air. It begins gently, simply as a mild notion of a certain undefined difference, barely there. But within weeks this notion will turn into the change of seasons.

When I gaze upon my immediate surroundings, the summer finale is so very obvious everywhere. The light is slowly turning golden and the shadows grow longer, as the sun looses strength, moving lower across the sky. The days grow colder and the nights are no longer light. The Birch Trees are sprinkled here and there with golden leaves, the initial sign of the approaching autumn. If I look closely, the first mushrooms can be spotted in the shade of their rich crowns. Bushes and shrubs bear the first fruit and the evergreens are lush and majestic, as they reach the end of their growth cycle.

August in my mind is the tint of dark green and golden. There is a certain clarity to the air, making the colours in nature vivid and vibrant, as the haze of hot summer days disappears. It is the final month of richness and the commencing month of harvest, when crane flies fill the air, amidst the fluffy seeds of Thistles, while bumblebees and the scented bloom of Honeysuckle slowly depart. The early autumn Heather blossom replaces slowly the indigo blue flowers of the Clematis, which fall to the ground in a erratic motion, as the wind picks up in strength.

This is the last month of the summer and it is ending. As always - way too fast, leaving us before it even began. All that remains now is the notion that perhaps when the rich season crosses the seasonal doorway upon its departure in a few weeks, we might experience the final warmth of a few Indian Sumer days...

August 09, 2010

Love And Friendship.

Those two are necessary in order for us to lead healthy, content lives. They are two distinctive terms, but are somewhat intertwined as love is such a universal term and can not exist without friendship. Or the other way around. Our need to be in the company of people that love us and care for us deeply is just as vital as food, water and the air we breathe.

Just the other day I read about the importance of not feeling lonely or alone. In fact, if we do not choose loneliness voluntarily, the impact of it can be as destructive to our overall health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, shortening our life span by decades. In the modern western world, where a large fraction of the population lives alone, loneliness is becoming ever so palpable problem in our society.

The people that love me are spread all over Europe and at times I indeed feel alone. What I would not give to be able to meet them on daily bases, instead of being confined to mails, postcards, letters and online communication. Solitude, although a welcomed friend, can nevertheless feel impeding occasionally.

However, even though I miss true friendship constantly, the world of blogging has managed to fill in this lack of daily companionship. All of you that stop by here regularly have become my very good friends. I have never met you in person, but your candid concern, your interest in me and your attention and kindness has given rise to numerous friendships, so genuine and lovely that they can be easily compared to friendships one would strike in real life.
And for that I am thankful to all of you.

On the same note l would like to share with you the joy that I felt over a small package that arrived on my doorstep the other day. My lovely blog friend Claudia, the most kind and generous girl that lives on the opposite side of the globe in Guatemala, took the time and effort to send me a birthday gift. I lack words to describe the surprise when the postman brought me this unexpected package. Carefully packed in an embroidered pouch I found a handmade necklace, one that made my heart skip a beat.
Thank you dear Claudia - thank you for reinforcing my belief in the goodness of people. You are a treasure dear friend.

Finally I would like to wish you all a splendid August as I am looking forward to enjoy some weeks away from the online life, traveling and experiencing adventures with those I love.
These are my moments of happiness and I intend to savor them fully, as they are always so very fleeting and so elusive in my life.

And perhaps, this is what happiness is in life itself - elusive and fleeting moments...

August 07, 2010

Farewell To White Nights...

Sadly, the illumination of the Scandinavian summer night sky is ending. The 7th of August marks the last day of the so called Light Nights and in its turn the end of the most beautiful period in the annual cycle of the North.

From now on, our skies will grow darker by each passing day. Already, the night has stolen two hours away from the daylight and compared to June, our sunrises and sunsets occur one hour later. This shift will increase exponentially and before long - twilight will rule my world once more.

There is a certain melancholy that fills my heart as I make my peace with the notion, that summer is closing towards its end. Warm days will still follow for a few weeks more, but warm nights and evenings will begin to subside drastically. The sun is turning slowly golden and my surroundings grow dark green, as the seed-bearing parachutes of dandelions and thistles fill the air. The late summer sunsets are now traveling back from northwest towards the west, where the setting disc will soon meet this cardinal direction around the fall equinox.

This is the beginning of the end of my love affair with Mr. Summer. Every year, as we say farewell to White Nights, I know he is slowly preparing for his departure.

August 05, 2010

The Night Dancer.

The moths I usually encounter during warm summer nights are discrete, plain and miniature. There is something infinitely fragile about these tiny night dancers, that flutter their wings frantically as they are drawn towards the light.

Much more poetically named in the Scandinavian languages, such as Night Butterfly in Swedish and Night Worshiper in Danish, they appear almost transparent, so devoid of colours and so very distinctive as compared to their flamboyant cousins which rule the summer days. Nevertheless, as seen on these images taken a few days ago in my house, the artificial light made this delicate creature look almost golden.

August 03, 2010

"Drawing With Light".

Sometimes, when I contemplate the term my life, two emotions strike me almost immediately:
one, it has flown by so fast;
two, nothing much has happened.
Or rather; very little of what I wanted to happen, did.

I guess as any other flawed human being, I scrutinize my life endlessly and see easily the broken and unfulfilled dreams, rather then the richness, the milestones and the goals reached. Somehow they disappear among all the excess baggage and skeletons in the closet.

The other weekend, I was looking through a few boxes full of old photographs stored in my basement, in search of one picture needed to conclude one of my former posts. What I thought would take ten minutes turned into several hours of recollection and reminiscence. Although I have many photo albums lining my library shelves, which I quiet frequently look through, this was a very different experience all together. Gazing at pictures I have not seen for decades brought smile to my face and tears to my eyes, making me reevaluate that last statement about my life; a lot has happened in it indeed. I saw faces I have forgotten, adventures I have displaced in the dusty corners of my memory, snapshots in time captured without my knowledge, depicting loved ones and long gone friends. Moments in life printed, telling a story of the past.

This in turn made me contemplate the subject of photography itself. An art form in its own right, it conveys and serves as an expression of beauty, magic, pain and the blunt reality of our world. Photographs stir our emotions, they move us, challenge us, please us or appall us and make us travel geographically and in time. They capture subjects or situations, historical events, the highlights of our own life. All which appear frozen in time, as silent witnesses of the past, once focused on by a human being and immortalized in print through the lens of a camera.

The word "photograph" was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (photos) "light" and γραφή (graphé) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing"; together meaning "drawing with light".
Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries, stretching all the way from the 5th century, perfected in the 12th and 15th centuries until the 19th century, when the photographs in the modern day sense were created.

Aside from all the scientific facts and explanation, what makes me curious is to ponder the reason to why photography was invented. It is obvious that already the ancient man depicted the reality perceived by cave paintings and drawings, which can be still seen today.
It must have been the desire to document that gave rise to the first primitive photographs. The longing to capture life truthfully, in all its beauty and splendor, with all its pain and suffering. After all, paintings are often illustration of how the artist that created them views the world. Often tainted by his or hers personal experience or preference, at times greatly removed from reality itself.

A photograph however never lies. It tells the story as it is. Even if the subject is chosen by the photographer and the perception of the captured story can wary - as they say, it is all in the eye of the beholder.
Still, a reflection "drawn with light" contributes greatly to the quality of our lives, whether it educates us or make us feel, or whether it just simply serves as a picture diary of a life lived...

August 01, 2010

Summer Symphony.

My parents left Denmark today, heading back home to central Europe.
The house feels so very empty all of a sudden - as it always does, when my loved ones depart. I feel at times that my life is filled with endless hellos and good byes; moments of infinite joy and sadness, which alternate within my reality.

The week has flown by so very fast, yet it feels like ages ago I sat down to write a post or visited your lovely places, which I plan to do imminently. My intention was never to stay away completely, but I was so drawn into the allure of life, that no time nor energy was left to visit the virtual world.

I have experienced wonderful days filled with walks in stunning country side and the beach, scenic drives, lovely food, great conversation and tranquil evenings sitting at the outdoor fire place among those I love; this despite the fact that the weather was a mixed blessing of sun and rain.

The nature is currently in its final display of lushness and growth. The departing hot and unusually dry July is greeted by golden August, the month of plenty, which brought the needed rain - a vital fluid that the Scandinavian nature can not do without.
My parents - just like me - are avid nature lovers and it is at times such as these, in the company of my family, that I get to see the glory of the Danish nature in its full splendor. Seeing it through the eyes of those who do not reside here, I see it all over again as if for the first time, with new perception and sensitivity. The summer nature plays a symphony, not only in sound, but in colour and light. If we only pay attention, the orchestra of nature creates masterpieces rich in natural treasures and pristine beauty.

Trying to recollect the summer days through the lens of my camera, below is a story in pictures depicting that which I saw and the way I saw it. I hope you will enjoy this photographic symphony, even though the reality is always best when lived.

(Please click images below for a larger view.)