September 30, 2010

Unique Illumination.

My home is far from stylish. It is however unique and filled with items of affection. Everything has a story and everything in it means something to me.

Every decoration, every painting, every object and even the furniture holds a sentimental value. My home is a collection of memories and details which define who I am.

Such is my light in iron and wood, as I like to call it. A simple but very unusual lamp, made from cast iron and rough wood, it was given to me by my parents when they relocated their home a few years back.  Purchased in a gallery, the lamp is created by an artist that must have loved the rugged and the pristine found in natural materials and who could see something beautiful in the unusual.

It used to hang above the stairs in my parents house and I recall its mystical shine, as it would cast shadows over the walls in the evenings. I always found the lamp slightly enchanting and intriguing.

According to my father, the wood is a former harness that held the horses reins, while the majestic animals would be ploughing the fields. I do not know the age of the wooden object, however due to the type of its former use, I sense it carries perhaps over a century of history in its rough surface.  I often wonder about the animals that laboured arduously, once long time ago between its edges, as well as about the lives of the people that led them. Ultimately I am also fascinated by the artist that envisioned an enigmatic potential in a discarded piece of tool, to see it become once again of use for centuries to come, but in a new, unique way.

To spread enchantment through pale and intimate shine, in a unique home.

September 27, 2010

Unconditional Embrace.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~John Burroughs

In my past, I have often felt disappointment and pain. Just as much as I have felt happiness and joy. These are the spectra of life and as such I accept the fact that the sun can not always shine and sometimes a heavy shower is vital, in order to make us flourish and grow.

As much as I have felt let down and wronged, I sure have been the one who has been responsible for the wrong doing at times.
Thus the older I get, the less prone I am to seek the company of others, when something weights heavy around my heart. Looking for solutions in people seems futile, as most of the time all we need to find comfort and strength is to look within ourselves.

In moments of sadness, in moments of despair, when yet again the world closes in on me and I feel drained and empty, I turn to me. But I also turn to the only other place that never lets me down.

I turn to nature.

There is something infinitely soothing in its enchanting presence, as the mild breeze caresses my face, drying gently up my tears. I find solace in the trees always being the same, always standing there as silent sentinels, never leaving me, but watching over me as quiet guardians, whispering to me through the motion of their heavy branches...

In any season, nature offers the best medicine for broken heart and ailing soul. It is tranquil and constant, despite the annual changes, which nevertheless come and go with a certain predictable precision. With all its infinite beauty, whether it is in the green forests, rolling hills, scented meadows, raging ocean shores, pristine beaches, rugged planes or snowy mountains - the invigoration one can find in its company is unique.

A walk on a narrow path, cutting through tranquil landscape, can offer so much through the simple act of silence. Whether in full sunshine on a summers day, in the coolness of the autumn mist, in heavy snow or during a spring shower.

It offers no promises, gives no guaranties, yet nothing feels safer, more reassuring and more comforting than the unconditional embrace of mother nature.

September 25, 2010

Autumn Morning Magic.

And so it begins.
Gently at first, as if an unseen painter used the foliage at random for trials of his palette full of ochres, reds and yellows. However very soon, the entire landscape will be bursting in every shade of warm, earthy colours.

I woke up very early today. The sky was blue, the air fresh and pristine and thus I decided to take an walk in a nearby forest.
The colour onset is suddenly so very palpable everywhere. The beautiful green is covered by strokes of red and yellow, shining like copper and gold against the azure blue sky. The morning mist gave the landscape a feel of enchantment, as the sun rays broke through the heavy foliage of trees.

I experienced a moment of autumn magic today. I found wonderful and soothing solitude in the freshness of the colours, the scent of the air and the song of the birds as I watched the first leaves fall gently to the ground...

September 23, 2010

Crossing The Seasonal Threshold.

Today we cross the threshold of light and step into darkness.
This statement sounds somewhat ominous, and it truly is in some way. The autumnal equinox is upon us and as it evens out our nights and days, it also signifies that we are entering the time of twilight.

By each week, by each day, minutes of precious sunlight will be taken from us. Already, our sunsets occur about four hours earlier then around summer solstice in June.
As I will watch the evening sun on its travel across the horizon, from the true west to the far southwest, my heart will grow heavy by each sunset. The golden disc will move slowly at first, setting in its true cardinal direction for a few more days. Soon, this journey will speed up, until one day in late October the sun will disappear all together from my view, to be gone for months at a time during the dark Scandinavian winter months.

As much as vernal equinox brings me joy, the autumnal holds so much more sadness.

Yet, it signifies the onset of time of tranquility.
A time of rest and a time of gentle contemplation, filled with recollection of what was... Soon the cold easterly winds will bring a sense of sharp freshness, as they instigate the pleasure of long walks on misty days, while fallen leaves rustle under our feet and the air becomes scented with the smoke of wood burning fires and rich cuisine.
Autumn has arrived.

September 20, 2010

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

While looking at my reflection in a handheld mirror the other morning, applying my make-up, the glass object slipped out of my hand all of a sudden. I fumbled with it for a while, as it jumped in and out of my palms, in between my fingers, while the shiny surface reflected the sun, blinding me with its brilliance, until it finally dropped onto the tiled bathroom floor. I watched this event, almost in slow motion, as I cringed and instinctively shut my eyes and raised my shoulders towards my ears in a reflex, but a futile attempt to protect them, expecting that familiar loud and extremely uncomfortable sound of shattering - sharp pieces flying in all directions. The thought of seven years of bad luck enveloped my consciousness, while I wished I could turn back time...

But no such sound came however, only a muffled noise resembling the one when a china plate is tossed onto a clothed table. When I looked down, I could see the mirror was intact. As luck had it, I was standing on my new, very thick and lavish bathroom mat, which miraculously softened the effect of the fall.

I think I exhaled with a relief and even smiled, at the thought of not having my luck run out with yet another broken mirror; I have broken a few in my life. I am not overly superstitious, but I sure have had my share of bad luck - not that I blame that on broken mirrors of my past.
As I picked up the silver object, to continue with my morning routine, mixed thoughts about mirrors and their meaning entered my mind, causing me to pause for a moment, while studying my own reflection.

The term mirror is used so freely in our vocabulary, as the idea of a reflection is such an important one. Even I use it in the title of this blog...
We look for reflection of oursleves in our physical form, but the mirrors that capture our interest are not just those we hold to our face, but also the ones that reflect our inner self, our inner beings and our inner most thoughts and emotions.

We look for our reflection in our surroundings and in the effect we have on other people. The reflection of us is not only seen in the calm surface of water on a sunny day, but also in the way we touch the lives of others with our actions. Or perhaps it can be spotted in the work of art or of other nature, including our deeds, which we leave behind in our footsteps. We long to be satisfied with what we see, whether it is the physical form that stares back at us or the abstract form, that can be sensed by the way others view us. Eventually, these two are intertwined as the later one is what makes the former look beautiful...

The eyes are "the mirrors of our soul" and as such we scrutinize the gazes of strangers. Then again, we can see ourselves in others, whether it is in the smile of loved ones or the faces of our children.

Mirrors must be one of the most common objects with which we come into contact daily. They are present in every household, in restrooms of all public buildings, in hotel rooms and even elevators. And in most purses of women - and even in the pockets of some men. They are the objects of art, with its potential to create labyrinths and playing trick with our perception, expanding our sense of depth into infinity, effecting our feeling of perspective, making us laugh and loose control. In a more serious sense, mirrors are part of state of the art technology, as they are used in high definition televisions, projectors, telescopes and multitude of military applications; in fact it has been said that Archimedes used a large array of mirrors to burn Roman ships during an attack on Syracuse.

Last, but not least, mirrors are used in folklore, fairy tales and fables, often instigating vanity and preoccupation with out physical attributes. And ultimately, mirrors are considered the sources of superstition, the gateways to the unknown, perhaps windows to parallel worlds or dimensions and the tools of witchcraft and sorcery.

Indeed, the term mirror, whether in its pure physical form or an abstract form, is an object of importance, despite it being viewed with a slightly negative perception.
Ultimately I hope that the reflection I see in all the mirrors of my life makes me not shun away from my own reflection...
No matter how many mirrors I am yet about to break.

September 18, 2010

Touch Of Autumn...

However much I try to ignore the signs, the change of seasons is absolutely imminent. Mister Summer is departing and as he blows me covert kisses while he saddles his horse, I am forced to reluctantly watch him leave.

Still, I know that his departure, however painful it might be, is only temporary and in less than a year he will be back. Thus instead of weeping bitter tears, this time around I will relish in the beauty of all the seasons, as they all posses a certain charm, if one cares to look.

Lady Autumn is no exception. A kindred spirit almost, that jovial, colourful Lady with all her changing moods - anything from melancholy and dark skies, threatening storms and pounding rain, to soft sunlight, that breaks through the morning mist over a painted landscape upon the turn of the foliage.

Autumn is beautiful, flamboyant, rich and sensual, so appealing in all the splendor of her mature beauty. I am looking forward to befriend this seductive Lady this year. And as the anticipation builds within me, I try savor the first onset of her imminent presence, which can now be felt almost everywhere in my surroundings; in the rich berries, the autumn harvest and the first copper and golden leaves.

September 16, 2010

Cinderella's Crown.

Some of you might recall my Cinderella Plant. That beautiful green ivy like stalk, full of thick leaves, growing out of a glass vase-like pot, which with a little imagination resembles a glass slipper.

The intriguing plant was given to me by my neighbors a few years back, and the little note accompanying it stated that "...if watered sparingly, it will bloom with a lovely pink flower..."
I watered it sparingly, but the plant never flowered for me.

Not until very recently. A few weeks back, I was amazed to suddenly find an interesting flower at the tip of the plant. The petals were closed and it looked like it was made of dark pink candy.
Within a few days the flower opened to offer the most beautiful display of shape and colour. Looking almost not alive, as if created of silk and colourful beads and sewn onto the green stalk, it was not just stunning in vision but in scent too, resembling a fragrance of sugar candy.

Cinderella finally became adorned with a crown; just like in the famous fairytale. I guess good things do comes to those who wait.

September 13, 2010

Love Letters.

Love, that foolish, yet transcending emotion, that makes us feel invincible and so endlessly fragile, simultaneously.

Love is such a universal feeling, one that connects us all, as we are all familiar with its bittersweet allure, one that leaves us with the sense of flight as well as fall...

This powerful emotion has been described so many times, in so many ways, with enticing words on paper, creating unforgettable works of art.
I am sure I speak for many of us, when I claim to posses at least one manifestation of emotions, written by a lovers hand in a letter, to be forever immortalized and revisited by the eyes they were meant for.

Not long ago, I stumbled upon a delightful little collection of love letters at a flea market. They are bound into a book, entitled "Love Letters Of Great Men", compiled by Ursula Doyle. Almost every evening, I get lost in a sea of affection, as expressed by great minds of the past, reading through the candid lines of their desire, learning about their inner most emotions of often unrequited love, aimed at Ladies that won their hearts.

The ones that captured my senses more than any other are letters by Ludwig Van Beethoven, the talented composer, written to his "Immortal Beloved". Three such passionate letters were found after his death and the identity of the recipient was never conclusively established. This adds greatly to the uncanny enchantment that envelops every reader of the emotionally charged sentences, as the passion is so very palpable in every word...

Excerpts from "To Immortal Beloved, Good Morning, on 7 July"

O God, why must one go away from what one loves so... You made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time.

What longing in tears for you - You - my Life - my All - farewell. Oh, go on loving me - never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
Ever Thine
Ever Mine
Ever Ours.

Note: I was not the only one enthralled by the passion hidden within the love letters. Indeed, Bernard Rose directed a film entitled "Immortal Beloved" in the 90's. Filmed in Prague and in the Czech country side, it is deliciously melancholic, as the plot circles around the pursuit of unveiling the identity of the secret love of Beethoven... A beautiful piece of cinematography in vision and sound, highly recommended for all the fellow hopeless romantics out there...

September 11, 2010

September Sun.

While autumn prepares to make its grand entrance, it did offer us this week a true sneak preview of what is to come. Wind and rain has been battering my surroundings for the past few days, creating a sense of subtle sadness, as if nature is shedding tears over the imminence of summers departure.

A few days back though, when sunny skies still graced us with their presence, I could relish in the beautiful September sun, setting now almost in its true cardinal direction. I enjoyed it's subtle retreat over the horizon and captured it through the lens of my camera.

The sunsets have moved from their June northwest position to a more westerly position, signifying the onset of painted evening sky of the North, which will offer once again spectacular light shows for the next couple of months, adding to the flamboyant beauty of autumn colours.

September 09, 2010

The Last Summer Kiss...

The seasonal change feels suddenly ever so imminent. However, a few days ago, the receding sun enveloped us in its final sunshine brilliance, kissing us gently good bye...

The air grew warm and the sun strong, one last time. Thus the shielded spot on my terrace became once more an oases in colour and light, offering a sense of summer - perhaps as a conclusion this year. Before long, the magical third season will commence its absolute departure and the sun will follow suit soon thereafter...

September 06, 2010

Three One Dollar Bills.

The other day I looked into my box.

Yes, I have one of those secret boxes. A treasure box if you will, where I keep sentimental memories. These include souvenirs from memorable trips, notes, cards or letters from old lovers and other small mementoes given to me by special people, who touched my life in one way or another. The box also houses old diaries, quotes and poems I have written down as a young girl as they spoke to me in an unusual way. Overall it contains items that connect me to unforgettable moments in time, which are locked within their shape, texture or scent.

I do not look into my box very often. When I eventually do, it is on those rare occasions when something is being added to it. And then I can not help but look through the contents once again, as I have done numerous times in the past, surrendering completely to sentimental feelings that overtake me and allowing myself that bittersweet sensation of traveling back in time, recollecting emotions and people I once knew.

The other day I added something into my box and in the process of remembering my past I stumbled upon three one dollar bills. They brought a smile to my face, as I recalled with a sting of melancholy the boy that once gave these bills to me, those twenty years ago - perhaps exactly to date.

I was young, in my early twenties and traveling in southern Spain one late summer. I was having the time of my life, spending carefree weeks in the company of my best friend, with whom I keep in touch even today. When I see her, which happens every few years only, our reminiscing eventually always brings us to a fond recollection of our only summer trip.

The sea and the sun and the concentration of youth is a peculiar mixture. The weeks were one big party it seems today, when we slept under palm trees during the day and frequented bars and discotheques in the night, until the wee hours of the mornings.
I felt young and beautiful and as such I was admired by the opposite gender. I never danced alone and I always had someone to buy me a drink. I recall one evening meeting a handsome boy, the center of everyones attention, gaining mine quiet easily. His tall posture, muscular body and blond locks could make any girl week in her knees - and I was no exception. Soon I only had eyes for him, paying very little attention to his plain friend, who failed to capture my interest, but whose interest I captured in return. I did not give him the time of the day, ignoring him completely, as he was not handsome and I was foolishly shallow.

Admitting eventually his defeat, one day he approached me and as he gazed at me with his intelligent eyes, he handed me three one dollar bills with these words: "My mother always told me, that any kind of trouble can be solved with three one dollar bills. Please keep these as a souvenir - if you are ever in trouble, I hope they can be of help." I remember this as clearly as if it was yesterday, accepting the bills with a slight surprise, managing to utter a weak "thank you". He nodded gently and then left me standing there in silence, as I watched him walk away, never to lay my eyes on him again.

Today I pity my young self, who failed to see the potential in this young mans behavior and conduct. It was not until a few years later that I realized the true meaning of the gift I was once given on a sun drenched beach by a plain boy. Even though somewhere deep within I must have realized the value almost instantly, as the bills were saved in my box, where they have remained until today.

I can no longer recall his face, or voice, nor his name, I am ashamed to say. But I will always recall the day when he taught me how to distinguish between beautiful eyes and eyes filled with the beauty of kindness, intellect and integrity and how to never choose the value of beauty over the value of substance.

September 04, 2010

Enticing Evergreens.

I love evergreens and perennials. They add so much beauty to any garden, patio or terrace, as they keep their colour through out the year and require minimal care.
Over time, I have slowly planted more evergreens and many types of ivy all around the house, lining the terraces, thus giving them a feel of lushness and increasing my privacy.

Some of you might recall that unfortunately many of my old potted evergreens perished due to a very long and hard winter. I planted a few new ones this April and today many are lush and strong, as they reach the end of their growth cycle with the departure of the summer season (see comparison photographs below).

Hopefully they are ready to withstand the coming winter, which I hope as well will be of a more regular kind; mild and rainy.

September 02, 2010

Versatile And Alluring.

My last post on the theme of Switzerland will include my recollection of our visit in pictures mainly.

In my opinion, the prevailing appeal of this landlocked country lies not just in its multilayered prosperity and aesthetic beauty, but also in in it's enormous diversity. Roughly, the North is Germanic, the West is French, the South is Italian and the East is Romansh; thus Switzerland acknowledges four national languages. This diversity is reflected not just in the population, but also in the appearance and attitude.

Traveling across the country is like traveling across a wast part of Europe, but somehow fitted into a narrow space. Within hours, moving either by highway or by train tracks, one can pass from one zone into the other with ease and efficiency, compliments of a well established and modern infrastructure.

The transition is smooth and tranquil, yet very distinctive, as one can very much sense when the internal borders are crossed. Signs appear in a different language, the architecture changes and even the weather; going from snow covered peaks to warm shores of lakes. Not to mention the scenery; anything from rolling hills, lake districts lined by palm trees, castles, meadows, mountains with rich forests and animal life, pristine villages, sleepy towns and international metropolis, bustling with life.

I dedicate this post to my sister and her family for making our stay an unforgettable one. The days we spend together will enter my recollection as one of the unforgettable moments of my life, due to the company that surrounded me, etching it forever into my memory as such.

(Please click images below for a larger view.)

September 01, 2010

Look To The Rainbow...

During our stay in Switzerland, the weather was a mixed blessing of sun and rain. Even though we did wish for more sunshine than we received, the heavy clouds and the rain did surprise us one day with the most incredible rainbow I have ever seen.

While driving home one afternoon with my sister and my niece, suddenly the dark grey heavens were adorned with a double arch made of magnificent colours. The bow was so vivid and strong that it looked as if someone had just painted it over the sky. Spanning a full semi-circle, ending in the waters of the lake, it brought about a deep sense of enchantment, as if we were facing a gateway into the land of magic.

As we stopped and admired the colourful strokes set against the dark canvas, my five years old niece made a wish. I hope you will find the time to watch the video below to find out what she wished for...