June 29, 2012

Four Seasons Of A Tree.

Perhaps some of you recall my fascination with a beautiful silver birch, which I could watch outside the windows of my old house.
I documented its changes over the course of a year in pictures and found the reward for watching a tree during the various seasons to be priceless.

Little did I know then that the tree would be cut down by my neighbours a few years later, to my shock and disbelief. Thus my photography is all that remains as a testimony to its existence...

Therefore I was thrilled to find a birch in the front garden of my new home and have likewise captured its changes throughout the past summer and autumn, from green to bare.
This spring I returned with camera in hand to document its awakening and the results can be seen in the pictures below, including a shot I took in winter as well, concluding its yearly cycle.

I love to watch the swaying of its branches outside our kitchen window. This birch can not match the beauty of the one I used to feast my eyes on in my former home. Yet it is ours and as long as we live here, it is safe. Its presence grants me the privilege to follow the natural transformations throughout the seasons, as they pass my views with uncanny precision and reassurance.

(Please click images for a larger view) 

June 26, 2012

Home Is...

My whole life, I have been searching for a home. Or rather a sense to belong somewhere.
I am a child of immigrants, yet I was almost a teenager when my parents decided to pack a few of their belongings and flee in secrecy with their children to the west, with a hope to find a better life for themselves and for us.

Today, when Europe is united and moving around is easy and when the world is becoming globalized, it is difficult to imagine that once this continent was split into two ideologies and leaving the east behind meant one could never return. At least not without risking prosecution and imprisonment. A new generation has now grown up in this free Europe, learning from history books about the communism regime that once ruled their country.

Thus my life was spend as a foreigner. Being a sensitive teenager when I was uprooted and relocated, our immigration shaped my personality and my traits to a large extend. Despite my family's successful integration and adaptation, it was nevertheless an odd sensation to be sitting in social gatherings, with friends or in school, and discussing the current affairs or the state of "our country".
Or to participate in celebrations that dealt with that country's past, of the traditional or historical kind. I could never relate to these sentiments having no strong ties to my new home - no roots, no connection to past generations that lived there, no common history with it's inhabitants, nor a sense of familiarity with their traditions. Thus in time the need to feel those kind of emotions and that kind of belonging became my quest.

Yet this kind of disconnection made it also very easy for me to leave my new home and leave I did. In each new country I kept looking for the same sense of home and even though I adopted many new traditions and even in some cases felt stronger about an issue than the natives did, in time I realized that perhaps my search to truly feel completely home somewhere was futile. Particularly when I returned to the country of my origins only to realize that it lacked in providing the sense of it being a familiar home that I hope it would be, as it has changed beyond belief since I was a child.

It has been many decades since I lived with my parents, who themselves harbour the hearts of gypsies and have relocated numerous times and even moved between countries. Thus when I visit them, I visit their home, not mine.
When we stay with my father in law, we always sleep in my husband's old room. I have once asked him how he feels about being able to visit his childhood home on regular bases. He smiled and replied, slightly confused; "I come to see my father, not this house".
When we took a walk around the neighborhood and passed his old school and met his childhood friends and I inquired about similar sentiments when it comes to these encounters, my questions left him puzzled. I tried to explain that the luxury of being able to revisit and sense one's roots is to me extraordinary as it is something I can not really experience.
Yet seeing his aloofness in this matter is not something that bothers me, quiet the contrary - it disperses the importance of the issue and clouds the purpose of my lifelong quest.

We always miss that which we do not have.
My husband will not care much about being able to visit places where he grew up, as that is a natural occurrence to him and he can do it freely, almost whenever he chooses to. While for me the ability to visit my childhood home becomes crucial and almost vital, because it is not possible - to him it holds no allure because it is possible.

Simultaneously I am also realizing the relativity of things and the idea of what a home realy means is being redefined in my perception. It can be any place, even somewhere in the gutter and yet it can also be many places at once.
Eventually, if we can remove ourselves from our narrow visions and mindset and if we travel far enough, our home becomes a much larger place. Astronauts in orbit around the Earth look down upon our planet and view the beautifully coloured globe below as their home - without borders and petty conflicts between nationalities. I experienced a similar feeling when I lived in the US - I no longer viewed only one country as my home, but the whole of Europe.

Thus the idea to completely belong to that one special place is slowly becoming more obscure and I begin to realize that I will never find it, because of the life I have lived. On the contrary, I rather embrace the fact that my home is nowhere and everywhere.
Today I feel at home right here with the man that I love and his family, which welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like one of their own. I am at home in this country that has been my shelter for the past decade, yet I will also always be at home with my own family, due to the strong ties we share, no mater where in the world they are.
I realize that my life is like a large tapestry, still in the making. Each pattern speaks of one unforgettable place in time - one that was my home for a while - and foremost of the people that made it feel as such. Ultimately home is a place I carry in my heart.

"I have been very happy with my homes, but homes really are no more than the people who live in them."
Nancy Reagan

(All images in this post taken in our home and in and around the home of my father in law.)

June 22, 2012

Midsummer Night.

We have crossed yet another seasonal threshold.
The day of the Summer Solstice is such an enchanting occurrence and yet it also instigates a gentle melancholy in me.

June is signified by the duality of Gemini and thus the first summer day reflects too a joy and simultaneously a sadness. A pinnacle of light has been reached – even though summer is only beginning; the sun now embarks onto a reverse journey away from us, shortening our daylight by each passing week...

Ever since my move north a year ago, I rarely thought about the stunning vistas at the white house - yet I do so very much currently and I truly miss them...
Gone is the unrestricted view of the horizon, the mesmerizing late night sunsets, which set the heaven on fire, the beauty of the illuminated midnight sky and the enticing glow of noctilucent clouds - these light shows played out in front of my windows almost every day through out the summer - year after year, never to loose their allure.

Our low lying house has no extraordinary views to speak off. The only sign telling me we are indeed amidst the time of the white nights are our solar lamps and lanterns, decorating the shielded patio and glowing silently yet persistently in the dusk that has replaced the nights.

And yet, stepping out into our garden in the stillness of the midnight twilight, I can nevertheless trace the silvery sky beyond the treetops and gaze mesmerized at the starless heavens above me as we cross into the small hours of the morning. Unmistakably, the air holds an aura of enchantment and one can easily fall for the magic of the Midsummer Night, when secret portals are open and the esoteric lurks in the shadows.

June 18, 2012

Life Interupted, Yet Beautiful.

I spend the entire weekend writing.
I hoped the result would be a reflective prose, but reading it today, the words come across as gloomy, somber and melancholic. They do not flow and they feel negative - I guess they reflect the darker state of my mind and the gentle blues that hit me this past week.

I wrote about my involuntary solitude, and the negative aspects of loneliness and seclusion. About the lack of human touch over an extended period of time and what it does to our well being. How painful it is to miss someone we love and how unbearable it is to fear for their life every single moment of the day...
How sad it is to have life interrupted, being put on hold and paused and feel that time is standing still. How the absence of sun, the never ending rain, the darkness despite it being June bring on a strong sensory deprivation and momentary, but deep depression.

However, no matter how much I lament or wallow in self pity, one fact remains: this is my life. It might feel interrupted and at times very wrong, but right now it is all I have got.
Additionally, I have so much more. The sinister thoughts that cloud my mind occasionally prevent me from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

My writing is an outlet and a release, not just of the creative kind but also of the healing kind. Any form of sadness that I put down on paper, or screen, seems to leave me and the act of illustrating my emotions with sentences is the best form of therapy.
There is not always a need to share it with the world.

Thus instead of prolong words of sadness and complaints, let me leave you with a picture that brought a smile to my face this weekend. Watching felines relax as if they do not have one single worry in the world puts even my mind to ease and reinforces the belief that life is indeed beautiful, at all times.

June 15, 2012

Allure In Rain.

This past weekend simply rained away. After cold, autumn like days with strong winds, the week concluded in heavy precipitation.
As I recovered from my initial irritation, realizing I had to spend my free days indoors, dreaming of the non existent sunshine - I realized that there was a certain hidden beauty in rain.

It was clear that the vital liquid revived my surroundings. Everything turned supple and lush and seemed revitalized and incredibly green. Indeed, even the colours of flowers appeared more vibrant and brighter than in sunshine.

I gave into the urge to walk out onto our lawn barefoot, in between the downpours, laughing and feeling giddy like a school girl. Do you recall how fun it used to be to get soaked?
Greeted by that incredible fragrance that rain leaves behind - a blend of wet soil, perfumes of bloom and humid air, I saw natural beauty, as drops of water lingered everywhere, like crystal beads strewn onto the stalks of grass, leaves of trees and shrubs and the petals of the early summer bloom.
Nature is alluring and surprising in any weather and in any season. All we need to do is to notice.

June 11, 2012

June Reflections.

June is my favorite month of the year, without a doubt, closely followed by July and May. I am a summer child and those of you who have been following my writing for years know that I and Mr. Summer are involved in a candid, but everlasting love affair.
I love June mostly for its light. Living almost as north as one can in Denmark, I carry out currently almost a daily ritual of stepping outside close to midnight, to feast my eyes on the illuminated night sky.

Climate wise, June and overall the third season in Scandinavia can be defined as a warmer spring, or April times three. Summer often rains away and it feels as if it ends before it even begun, while we still patiently wait for it to start. The days when the temperatures sneak above 20C can often be counted on the fingers of one hand. However, once in a blue moon we do also have exceptional summers that defy the rule and every year we hope that this will be the one.

As I sat bundled up in our garden a week back, enduring strong winds and clouds, risking to catch pneumonia, the occasional sun peaking through and it's warming rays hitting my face felt though like a vital therapy. The air was incredibly fresh. Inhaling it deeply I felt it purified my entire being. It's consistency so clear, so icy cold yet so clean and so saturated by the scent of the North Sea. I was suddenly - and momentarily - in awe of the weather conditions in the land I call home. I found inspiration in the rugged beauty, unpredictability and a life force of this climate, the one that fuels growth, lushness and bloom.

Sensing the weather elements with all my being, my eyes were drawn to an ivory clematis, planted by the previous tenants of the house. My husband is a perfect man in many ways, but he is definitely no gardener and the plant has been neglected for years. This spring the vine received the proper care and thus it grows with uncanny speed, stretching its tentacle like leafstalks ever so higher up the wooden terrace pole. I watched them swaying in the gale force winds and simultaneously could not help but notice that some grabbed onto the wooden pole in an almost human like way. The growing stalks of clematis are extremely delicate - pull slightly and they will break. Yet they can cling onto a surface in the most dexterous and proficient way, appearing tough and rugged, almost like there is mastermind, an intelligent thinking behind this action. It made me contemplate plants as lifeforms and whether they perhaps are much more complex than is assumed.

I have noticed that I mention my husband in almost every post and I assure you that is unintentional. I guess he is always on my mind and that will ultimately show in my writing. Sometimes it dawns on me, that I am indeed married. We got married only a week before he left and thus the event first now settles into my perception as reality - yet the sheer excitement of the fact still sends shivers down my spine.
I love being married.
I miss him terribly, at times every cell in my being longs to hold him... There are moments when I think that I simply can not go on one more second without feeling his touch and I fall into a temporary depression. But then a new day dawns and I get up from the ground, brush myself off and get on with life. I am thankful for this experience, no matter how hard it is at times, as it is reshaping me as a human being, building my character, my stamina and my resilience.

I am glad though that I can sense him everywhere in the house. His things, his clothes, his smiling face in the pictures of us - it all makes me feel as if he is about to return at any moment. And yet, now that a month has passed since his departure, the house is changing. I find this very interesting and utterly fascinating. The children are not here with me either, only the occasional visit here and there, thus this house bears more and more an imprint of me. Most of all its scent. Have you ever noticed how every home has its unique scent. I guess it is a scent that defines its occupants and is initiated by the life that flourishes within its walls. Our house has lost the scent I recall, when I visited it for the first time. It has a scent that is no longer a foreign one to me, but a very familiar and comfortable one. The one of my home.

I saw the film An Education the other day. It was a sweet movie, not making the big impression on me that I have hoped, yet I was entertained. Nevertheless, there was a scene that will stay with me for a long time. The female heroine - Jenny - contemplates;   

"Action is character", our English teacher says. I think it means that if we never did anything, we wouldn't be anybody. 

I think this is my life philosophy summarized in the most eloquent way.
Indeed, our actions are the essence of our life. We might not always do the right thing, but remaining standing still in a safe place makes us into nobody.

In my life I  have surely taken the wrong turns more times that I care to admit. Still, it never deterred me from taking action. Considering all the places I have been to and all the unforgettable experiences and encounters I have created along the way, I can safely conclude that perhaps I will never be anybody special - yet I will never be a nobody.

June 08, 2012

Vernal Bloom Revisited.

We have entered the first summer month and yet it feels weather wise as if we have stepped into fall. What a difference a week can make - the end of May was hot and sunny, while now rain and grey skies with plummeting temperatures are our reality.

Still, officially summer arrives first in a few weeks, thus the hope for sunny skies, hot days and warm nights is nevertheless alive.
One thing we will be granted for sure - the culmination of white nights - as the countdown to summer solstice has already commenced.

Before it all truly begins,  I would love though to take you back to the past three months in pictures. Back to the time that is infinitely defined by bloom, awakenings and growth.
Discovering our garden in spring, I enjoyed watching the vernal bloom and marveled over its versatility in regards to the blossom period, the colours, the texture and consistency of the flowers and of course, the scent. I saw some familiar faces yet also made my acquaintance with some novel beauties, walking around our garden with camera in hand.

As always, so much treasure waits to be discovered just outside our doorstep - if we only look.

(I participated with this post on Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop)

June 05, 2012

The Same River Twice...

"You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on you. 
No man ever steps into the same river twice,  for it's not the same river and he is not the same man."

Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

The subject of time is currently the essence of my existence. This very relative subject occupies my thinking, or rather the different aspects of this elusive term. More closely, the effect that time has on us.

I am endlessly intrigued by the way our perception can modify time intervals, making them undefinable by scientific terms. Instead their length and the speed with which they proceed is determined by our experiences.
As life takes us on the journey from our past to our future, we rarely have the ability to be objective when assessing who we were and who we have become. Tracing back the decades in my own personal history I was under the impression that except for my physical appearance - I have not changed at all, or very little.
My values are still the same, so are my traits. I feel I am the same woman within that aged body and I still want and like the same things I did when I was twenty five. Yet I have recently realized that I am not the same person I was just a year ago - thus how can I possibly be the same woman I was thirty years back...?

Being currently once again - albeit temporarily - alone made this epiphany so painfully obvious. Only slightly more than a year ago I lived on my own. That was all I knew. Even though I longed for having someone to love, I was satisfied with my life and found solitude freeing and revitalizing. Yet today that allure is long gone. I can still manage it, but I do not enjoy it for very long. Reverting to activities that once made me happy and content, I was so surprised to realize that today they have the opposite effect.
What a truly shocking revelation. I could never ever imagine myself living alone again, a notion that is endlessly unsettling to experience.

Indeed, we never step into the same river twice, as the wise Heraclitus once proclaimed. Our experiences and our decisions change the direction of our lives and in its turn this irreversibly changes us. What once made us happy and what once defined our reality might no longer give us satisfaction and on rare occasions can even bring us grief and sadness.

We can never go back to what once was.
When we fully comprehend this statement, it will suddenly reinforce the meaning of our present and the immense value of who we are today, as well as the very profound significance of seizing the day. We might have dreams and wishes which direct the roads we choose to travel on in life. They fuel our hopes for the future. We also have our memories of the journeys completed.
Yet nothing holds more allure and importance, nothing is more tangible and real than our present and who we are today.

June 01, 2012

The Icelandic Stallion.

When I was a young girl, riding was my passion. I can not really adequately describe the sensation, but I was the happiest when I was on a horseback.
This was however a life time ago and the last time I sat on a horse was almost twenty years back, riding towards the sunset on a secluded beach in Puerto Rico.

In life though, we never know who meet and what those encounters can lead to and as luck have it, one of my husbands acquaintances, a jovial and kind woman, has a passion for horses. And thus once again, with her help and guidance, my own passion for riding has been rekindled.

Sitting on horseback recently for the first time after a couple of decades, I relived the happiness I once felt as a young girl. The sensation and "know-how" returned to me easily and the encounter left me wanting more. In difference from my past experiences, when I rode large stallions, this time I rode an Icelandic horse. Pony like in size, however not a pony, these horses are  known for having additional gaits, among others a very distinguished riding stride called tölt, which is a mix between a walk and a trot. They are small, yet strong and resilient, with a placid temper.

Riding through a beautiful natural scenery, in great company, my world was once again set momentarily right, as yet another set of unforgettable moments were added to my recollection.