December 24, 2011

Merry And Enchanting.

Once again, the year has come almost full circle and the most enchanting week remains.

For me, this has been truly the most unforgettable twelve months I can ever remember. They brought my way substantial changes and immense personal growth, completely redefining my life and my beliefs.

I would like to thank you my dear friends, old and new, for the kindness and affection you showed me in your words and through your visits here in the past year. It has been my privilege to be allowed to share with you my personal experiences - both good and bad -  and I am looking forward to continue doing so when I return in January.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year
to all of you 


Pristine North Sea, Christmas Eve 2011

December 22, 2011

"Dies Natalis Solis Invicti".

December in Scandinavia is defined by an endless and constant darkness. We only get six hours of daylight, which is fragile and resembles twilight at the very best, instigating perpetual tiredness and signs of depression.
Yet, this period of - what feels as - eternal dusk, beckons us to light multitude of candles through out our homes, adding to the enchantment of the Holidays, complementing the artificial illumination of the streets and the stores.

Today, as we cross the threshold of light once again, the longest night settles upon us, creating a sweet contradiction.

While the winter solstice ushers us into the fourth season, defined by cold and darkness, it also brings with it that slight glimpse of hope. The Romans called this day Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, meaning the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
From now on, the fragile daylight will grow stronger by each day. However minute that addition of light will be to begin with, it will be there nevertheless. Slowly gaining in intensity until it grows strong enough to illuminate our surroundings, comes the vernal equinox.

However, until that time comes, we will relish in the subtle light of candles, which create that enchanting atmosphere, so significant of the winter season.

December 19, 2011

Unthinkably Good Things.

When I was a child, Christmas was an enchanted time. The whole month of December resonated with incredible bliss. The anticipation, the decorations, the various traditions, the scents, my family - it all created a harmonious atmosphere which filled me with happiness.

I recall how unthinkable it was to me then that some could perceive this time so very differently. Those that felt loneliness and sorrow, for one reason or another. Those who felt excluded from this unified joy and for whom during the Holiday Season the world turned into torment and melancholy.
Thus, when I found myself celebrating one New Year's Eve all alone not that long time ago, I did shed a small tear realizing that I had to endure what I thought would never happen to me - being lonely and sad.

Today, within the walls of our warm and cosy home, one that exuberates safety and comfort, as I sit surrounded by people that truly love me like I was loved once before, I become slightly sentimental recalling all these moments in my past. Seeing the children with so much excitement and expectations in their faces, those memories of Christmas celebrations from my own childhood come streaming back. And yet again, that feeling of happiness and unity I once felt seems to fill my world.

Lady Fortune has finally granted me my wishes, those that I carried with me as dreams for what seems like an eternity. They are packaged slightly differently than I envisioned, yet they are my wishes indeed. Today I wonder why I had to reach this late age to finally find that which has been so elusive my whole adult life.
Perhaps our dreams can only be appreciated and savored fully when achieving them takes all that we have got. Perhaps we are to walk those lonely and difficult paths to learn those vital lessons that will become our old age wisdom. Maybe if I would have been granted all that I wanted at an early age, I would never have been where I am now nor would I have seen what I have seen. Additionally, I would have not appreciated what I have been blessed with so passionately and valued it so strongly. Maybe the best is worth waiting for.

To live fully is to dare.
We need an ounce of luck along the way of course, but the quality of our lives is at all times determined by our own actions, something that became very clear to me this year. Thus, as this very important period in my life is closing towards its end, I look back upon the past twelve months and feel thankful, blessed, excited and ultimately surprised. I feel reflective, amazed and endlessly happy.
But most of all, I feel fulfilled, as I am finally exactly where I want to be, even if it took me half a lifetime to get here.

The below clip contains one of the final scenes from one of my favorite movies entitled "Under The Tuscan Sun".  Today I feel the sentiments expressed within these images and words mirror my own life, as indeed - "Unthinkably good things can happen even late in the game..."

December 15, 2011

December Dawn.

We are now in mid December and the presence of the fourth season is unmistakeably obvious. Winter stands almost at our threshold and its reign is already palpable in the icy cold air and the first snowfall.

Our daylight is fragile and subtle, with late sunrises and early sunsets, both fast and elusive. Still, currently I am fortunate enough to watch the golden disk emerge from behind the flat horizon on my way to work.
The first part of my drive takes me through beautiful country side, with small roads cutting through a soft landscape, where at the present the skies lie low and the fields bare. However, on those rare occasions when weather permits, I can spot the vital star emerge from its night slumber.  At times, it enters an almost pristine sky, where it appears large and glowing, majestically floating in the morning haze, before turning into a globe of molten steel, averting my gaze. On other occasions, it is obscured by clouds, its rays pushing through the fractures of vapor, creating stunning sights of almost biblical proportions.

Below is a selection of images taken this December, on my solitary drive during a subtle dawn, when the young sun could be seen just above the horizon, creating an elusive winter sunrise.

(About the images: taken with my trusted Nikon Coolpix, my good old friend always present in my bag for those emergency occasions - however not possessing the precision and capabilities of my beautiful Canon PowerShot G12, which I usually use.
Please click images for a larger view.)

December 12, 2011

Every Love...

"All, everything that I understand, 
I understand only because I love."
 Leo Tolstoy

 We are in the midst of the holiday season and I feel it is time to revisit that subject that lies so very close to my heart - the subject of love. I have written about love before - and many of you recall this, I am sure.
I have written about love the way I have known it and perceived it at that given time, with honesty and passion. I am convinced that love is what I live for and why I was born - I am here to love and to be loved. In fact, everything I have ever done in my life has been in the name of love.

Despite this, the surpassing emotion has truly been quiet elusive in my life.
Until now.

In my past I have loved with fiery passion and I have loved many times. But the bliss never lasted, always ending with someones heart shattered in pieces - thus I became almost convinced that the romantic love was not meant for me.

"Every love is different" - once I was told these words by a brief acquittance and today I feel they are the most profound words ever said about love.
I believe with all my being that we can love more than once and that indeed, each time we love differently. Not more or less, not stronger or weaker, not more passionately or more distantly, not for the first time nor the last. Just differently.

I believe that a human heart is capable of breaking and mending endlessly. It is resilient and can recover fully, if we only allow it to feel and heal, never sheltering it or hiding it away. It will only grow stronger when given away.
Love has no beginning nor end. It is constant and it infuses everything. It is pure and when it is right, it is enough and it is all we need. The lucky few find that kind of love instantly, while the rest of us might have to look for it feverishly.
Still it only takes once to get it right - and when we do, we will know.

The capability to love is one of the most precious abilities we posses. Therefore I do not regret loving in my past, as I know that the love I gave away was never lost. Ultimately we will receive as much as we give. It might take years and even decades for this generosity to be returned, but if we only persevere and believe in its allure, one day true love will come streaming back to illuminate our existence.

(I made - and shared - the clip below last year, however I feel it can be reused. I dedicate it to all of you, whether you feel loved or lonely this Christmas, and whether you are with the ones you love or miss them dearly...

(Images in the post: Photobucket
Images in the clip, my own photography)

December 08, 2011

Slush Ice.

The first snow is enchanting and alluring.
When the initial snowflakes appear, I watch them with such delightful intensity, as if I have never seen snowfall before. Indeed, how differently I perceive this wintry precipitation late in the season, when it comes across as impeding and distressing.

We got our first and very brief taste of winter this week, when sleet swept over the country, leaving behind slippery roads, snow dusted fields and wet snow in our streets - for a few hours only, melting away quickly in the fragile rays of the early winter sun.

Of course, I simply had to capture the first snow with my camera and thus I hope you will indulge me one more time, as I share with you the images of our overgrown lawn. I have shown it previously covered with droplets of dew in early autumn and the first frost in late October.
Here it is hence once again covered in slush ice.

(Please click images for a larger view)

December 05, 2011

Ornate Details.

A new house is like a new friend.
It takes time to get to know it and its occupants; the different moods, quirkiness, the versatile traits, both negative and positive. It takes time to settle in and although I have lived here for almost six months, I am still establishing new routines and my own place - not just in the new house but also in my new life.

Slowly, I am introducing my touch, so to speak, into an already establish home. Trying not to be too overwhelming and larger than life, remaining respectful and apprehensive, yet still - having a strong desire to have my home reflect the fact that a woman has moved in.
Whether I am succeeding in this endeavor or not is mirrored in the reactions of my new family. I win some and I loose some, as to be expected. The boys are mostly oblivious to my efforts, but the lovely girl senses the changes and has stated in no uncertain terms that her father's house has become much more cosy and delightfully scented since I moved in.
I take that as a sign of success.

Thus this year the Christmas decorations in my home are much more austere than I am used to. Still, the ornate details here and there create an atmosphere of familiarity and celebrate this delightful season in the spirit of love, family and companionship - the very essence of Christmas.

December 01, 2011

Countdown In Light.

This December is very special to me, as I get to experience the Holiday season for the first time in my new home.

I am looking forward to celebrate this enchanting occasion in the company of my new family, as we combine our traditions, creating something novel and something that is ours.

While most of my possessions are in storage, I made sure all the red boxes once stored in my old basement, with Christmas written on their side, were tucked away safely in our garage. Thus some of my Christmas decorations are now finding their way into our home.

Such as the familiar Calendar Candle. Christmas is simply not complete in any home I live in, unless I get to experience this simple daily pleasure in this ultimate month of the year.
Those of you who know me well know that starting the 1st of December, I burn a special candle, the one that has twenty four numbers printed on its side. I burn each number down for each day in December until I reach 24 - The Christmas Eve.

This year is no exception. I opted for a simple white candle, made of natural wax, so very fitting our austere home.
Thus yet again, the countdown to Christmas has begun and each day I will post a new picture of the burning candle on my side bar - turning this month into weeks of progressive photography in light.
And days of sweet anticipation.