July 31, 2012

"Fortuna Caeca Est".

Fortune Is Blind
The above sentence is carved onto a stone wall in old Roman style letters above a tunnel high in the Austrian Alps. It was suddenly in my view, as my family traveled south one summer when I was a teenager and I glanced at it at the very moment the car entered the tunnel. The sentence immediately peeked my curiosity, thus I scribbled down the words on a piece of paper, to later enter them in my journal. The one where I wrote interesting quotes and book excerpts, in order not to forget them.
It was first many years later that I learned the meaning of the Latin words:  

Fortune Is Blind.

Luck is a funny thing and already the ancient philosophers shared many ideas on how it impacts our lives. I know that I myself have had my share of both the good and the bad, but whether that was a product of luck I am not certain.

My Lucky Charm
When I felt the least fortunate, I recall feeling very lonely in my pain and predicament. I believe loneliness must be one of the most difficult ordeals in the life of humans. In my perception, it comes as a close second to the most devastating predicament one can be subjected to - ailing health, ours or someone we love.
I rather be poor than lonely. I rather be unsuccessful and miserable in any other way imaginable, as long as I am not alone. The idea of prolonged loneliness that I was facing once in my past used to haunt me even though I would choose solitude every time, rather than the company of someone I did not care for.

One of the most appealing aspect of life is that it can surprise us at at any moment, as the dices of our destiny are thrown. In just one year did I not only meet the love of my life, but I also gained the love of his adorable children and his extended family. As if by a stroke of incredible luck I was suddenly granted an honest affection from extraordinary people, dispersing the fears that once used to envelop me.

My Charm Bracelet
Meeting my extended family for the very first time reinforced in me the idea of reincarnation and having lived before. It felt like coming home - in the most literal way possible, like I never felt before. Even though at first glance I am easy going, open and tolerant, there are very few people that I genuinely feel comfortable with. Yet, when I am with my husband and his family, it feels as if I am exactly where I am suppose to be - in fact it feels like it has always been this way, for much longer then a year.
Sadly, I will never get to know the woman that bore the man I love, as she is long gone, but I am fortunate enough to have spend many wonderful moments in the company of my father in law.
The father of my husband is a special man and I can clearly see where my soul-mate gets his manners and admirable traits. He is humble and yet jovial with a life enforcing conduct and an aura of incredible familiarity.

Recently, my father in law send me a lovely birthday card, a greeting filled with words that I will never forget. Yet most of all, it will remain forever in my recollection for the gift that followed the card.
He send me a lucky clover.
A simple, yet rare plant, which he collected on one of his recent morning walks. It was pressed and meticulously taped onto the side of the card, accompanying his inner hopes for my good luck... A priceless and most memorable gift I have received to date.

My Lucky Clover
I have waited a long time and had to endure rough times before I found my share of good luck that has been infusing my life for the past year. At times I wonder what exactly have I done to deserve such good fortune as I know from experiences that nothing good last for ever and bad things happen to good people.

Ultimately though I have always believed that we are the creators of our own luck. It does not come from amulets and charms, but from our beliefs and our conduct, our hopes, our love and our longing. It is the state of our mind and the way we view life.
Good fortune is a product of hard work and endless perseverance and will smile at us as long we believe in it's charm, but never rely on its presence.

July 26, 2012

Beads On Silk.

With only a few warm weeks here and there, this summer has been one of the coldest ones on record. The sun holds enough heat to warm up the ground during the day, yet the cold arctic air streaming until very recently straight from the North Pole has kept our nights unseasonably cool and our mornings defined by dew, the droplets of which hold a hidden beauty to be found by an early riser.

Our lawn is full of miniature spiders which spin their invisible, tiny webs in the twilight of the white nights. Their masterpieces are usually unseen to the human eye. Yet, morning dew and even soft rain visualize these silky, fragile architectures for a few hours upon dawn. Resembling glass beads threaded on silk, one can marvel over this natural wonder of nature, before the sun burns the water droplets away, hiding these treasures from our view, as if they never even existed at all ...

(Please click images for a better view)

July 23, 2012

Year One.

The first anniversary of my move north came and went, without much notice on my part. Last week however, some reoccurring, yearly sport event made me realize that by mid July I have indeed spend one year in my new home.

I can safely conclude that these have been the best twelve months of my life. At times I view my life as a combinations of assorted segments. Personal eras that start and end with defying events. Taken together they make me feel like I have already lived several lifetimes combined into one. Last year yet again another new era started and I am endlessly excited about the novel prospects that await in my future.

Most of all I am looking forward to move to a new house, a house that I will hopefully one day soon purchase together with my husband. The period of looking, searching and planning is endlessly exciting. My old white house has been taken off the market and I am becoming a landlord, renting it out until it can be sold at a good price in the future. Today it is a buyers marked and the sellers have to comply, thus I guess we better take advantage of this fact and become buyers instead.

Time is definitely occupying my thinking as of lately. Yet, the avenues have shifted slightly and I have found myself contemplating the subject of death.
I have never contemplated it to any deeper extend before. Of course, just like everyone else, I too am scared of dying, but the fear that recently enveloped me is not the fear of death and the pain of the event itself, more the fear of the finality that it brings.

I dread the end of my consciousness.
The end of experiences, excitement and adventures, of new possibilities and unforgettable moments. I love to be alive - despite the pain and suffering, there is also so much beauty and magic at every turn, so much new to be discovered every day. The termination of all this a horrid and appalling idea. At least, unless one is a believer, death definitely brings an end to life as we know it. I truly feel these have been some of the most haunting thoughts I have ever had. Perhaps they are born out of the surprising and overwhelming happiness that defines my life currently, forcing me to see the other end of the scale. Taking a peak into an abyss that I know awaits, one day. As always, we fear the unknown - and death is by far the most certainly occurring unknown there is.

It feels as if our summer has not really begun - due to the absolutely unseasonable weather we have had. Yet small signs here and there tell me undoubtedly that my favourite season has passed its peak.
I just noticed that our rowan is already displaying half ripen berries. Plants, bushes and trees are now big and lush, having attained that deep dark green, signifying that their growth is slowing down and ceasing.

Yet for the first time ever this does not bring sadness into my perception. On the contrary, slowly a joy starts to gain hold, an anticipation and excitement, similar to the one I used to experience as a little girl when Christmas was approaching. Soon a true countdown will begin, as I await the return of the man I love.
With about five weeks left of our separation, I have finally allowed myself to slowly visualize his homecoming in my mind. Thus at last I can glimpse the light at the end of the dark tunnel and the approaching fall season has never looked more appealing and never been more anticipated in my eyes than this year.

July 19, 2012

Amethyst Stars.

Seven years ago I purchased two plants and planted them together in the same pot. Being still the very inexperienced gardener then, I experimented myself to knowledge and made a few mistakes along the way - as to be expected.

One of the plants completely vanished in the end of the summer, the other kept on going all the way until the first frost in late November. I knew both were perennials, as it said so on the little tags that accompanied the plants. Thus I just let the survivor stand outside during winter, hoping for the best, yet watching it sadly as it slowly dried out, to eventually burn away by subzero temperatures, perishing into only a bundle of yellow stalks. And I said to myself - 'well this was another bad mistake I wont repeat again'.

In the spring the following year, as I was getting ready to toss the seemingly dead plant out, I saw small buds and green shoots appearing here and there, signifying new life. My heart skipped a beat as I became overcome with joy. Trimming away way the perished parts, I watched the plant grow and flourish, blooming with beautiful violet blue star-like flowers during the whole summer.
This continued year after year and I kept wondering how this incredibly resilient flower can come back after tough conditions, such as a few arctic winters with months of deep freeze, renewing itself annually with will and determination in the same pot, with no new soil added ever to nurture its growth...

I must admit that I do use a mild fertilizer during the summer watering, yet it is still astounding that this plant can keep growing stronger as time progresses. I never knew its name and finally now after endless and tedious research I realize it was called campanula (birch hybrid). I simply had to know, as this summer season the plant is the most stunning to date. I have never seen it flowering this magnificently - it truly thrives in our new home.

Covered fully and completely by amethyst coloured stars, it reinforces my belief in the miracle of nature and in the endless beauty of plant life.

My Campanula anno 2012

My Campanula, in July 2005, just planted with it's "yellow" friend

July 09, 2012

Half Way There...

Simple Pleasures...
Leaving the first week of July behind, I am exactly half way into my ordeal. Thinking back over the past two months, I have mixed opinions about the speed with which they have progressed - some days flew by, while some felt endless.
It has gotten easier though, to be alone, however unimaginable I though that would be. Or rather, to be without the man that I love, as I am perfectly capable to be on my own - lets face it,  I have had decades of practice.

In any case, I have settled into and accepted my new reality, developing new routines, trying to find positive aspects of my involuntary solitude. The fact that it takes very little effort on my part to find allure in the mundane helps a great deal and I do fill my life with a multitude of simple pleasures. After all, it is my experience that happiness is made out of short beautiful moments and we are the ones who create them.

I have made a new friend and meeting this delightful woman has made me realize how much I have missed a close girl friend. Due to my cosmopolitan lifestyle, I have not had one for over a decade - not counting some beautiful friendships I made online. Still, there is nothing like being able to physically spend time with someone who lives just a block away and who genuinely enjoys my company. It has been endlessly therapeutic to have another woman to talk to - preferably over a glass of good wine.

My New Friend...
She has made me laugh, cry and contemplate and amazingly 
I am finding novel avenues of thinking thanks to this encounter, learning so much about myself. 
This reinforces my perpetual belief in the importance of seemingly random encounters we make in life and the sensitivity with which we should always approach the people we meet. They all have a part to play in our life and if we give them a chance, vital lessons await to be learned.

I miss my white house much less currently, if at all. Suddenly the returning recollections of marvelous skies and sunsets do not occupy my thinking any longer. I have realized that I love the uncertainty of my future. There have been times in my past, when life seemed so predictable and indefinitely planned. Living in my white house, I knew there was not much new that awaited to be experienced, if I did not choose to make it happen - an idea which filled me on many occasions with a sense of panic.
Today this is no longer the case. I can still feel the rise of panic within me, but that has to do with fear for the safety of the man I love or the need for his presence. At times I curse the profession he holds and the fact that a separation like the current one will be a continuous occurrence in our life. Yet, simultaneously I realize that I love the very essence that his absence will provide. It gives rise to the unexpected, fueling my life with endless possibilities, preventing it from growing mundane and leaving the future open and free. Additionally, I feel endlessly proud to be loved by and to be in love with a courageous man, whose reality is defined by honor, duty, chivalry and competence.

The Celestine Prophecy
Most of my possessions are still in storage and in my solitude I find myself missing some of them, mostly old photo albums and my books. Luckily though, I did take some books with me and the other day I randomly picked up one. When I read The Celestine Prophecy for the first time those eighteen years ago, it was one of the most profound books I ever came across. Today I know it shifted something within my perception and when I return to my own writing, I realize how much it has inspired me in the way I live my life. It will be endlessly exhilarating to read it again - I wonder whether it will still move me in the same way as it did when I was a young, naive woman.

Yes, I am half way there - in my solitude, but also when it comes to the bigger picture - my life. I read recently on the news that I find myself in most depressive stage in it, with the respect to my age. Those younger or older are infinitely more happy.
We are all familiar with the curse of the midlife crises and of course, I too feel its effects occasionally. I do know that certain dreams I have had will never come true, yet I also hold the power to shift my dreams and make new ones.
Looking back I am content with my past and hold no regrets - thus I only dismiss these kind of surveys with a smile. After all, I have always lived my life as an exception to the rule and believe that happiness is a state of our mind, not the state of our age.

My New Stunning Evening Skies...

July 05, 2012

Northern Night Skies.

I recently complained about the lack of alluring views. Those that I used to marveled over in my former home. While this fact still remains, I have also realized that if I only take the time to look, stunning light shows still take place right above me.

Last week, as I opened our bedroom window close to midnight, I could glimpse beautifully painted heavens to my left. Stepping out into our garden illuminated by the twilight of a white night, I could see purple clouds moving across a scintillated sky. The traces of a late summer sunset lingered across the north, reflecting the sun which moved just below the horizon on its way to the east, in order to rise in just a few hours.

I stood there in the stillness of the colourful night and felt deeply sentimental, as I got enveloped in bittersweet remembrance of what once was, while fully aware of the magic I was witnessing right then and there and simultaneously exhilarated about the endless possibilities of what is yet to come...

July 02, 2012

Secret Garden.

I grew up in apartments and thus when I purchased my first house, I had no experience in gardening. Furthermore, I had no true inclinations or any kind of emotional or practical association with a garden, not even plants. It was my mom and my sister who had the green thumb, not me. All I recall from my childhood was my mother tending to the few potted plants we had at home, changing the dirt in the spring on our balcony or patio.

My parents did live for a few years in a townhouse with a tiny backyard, which they slowly transformed into a tranquil hideaway. By that time I no longer lived at home and thus could follow the progress in growth and development every time I came to visit.
Therefore fueled by my parents enthusiasm, the two terraces of my former home became a play ground for me in terms of my gardening experimenting.

I can in no way claim to be an experienced or skillful gardener, a far cry from that I must admit. The limited knowledge I posses today was born mostly out of my mistakes. If anything, I am a perceptive gardener - I go with my feelings and intuition. Additionally I follow one simple advice I heard once spoken by an expert on a garden television show;  give a plant food, water and sun - or no sun, depending on its natural habitat.
Indeed in time I realized that is really all one needs to know. Taken together with a joy, interest and genuine love for plant life, anyone can tend to a garden and make it flourish and prosper.

The garden of my dreams is a wild and untamed one, almost a secret garden. A lush and secluded spot, which when entered feels enchanted. I am not a fan of meticulously maintained flowerbeds and trimmed bushes. To me the most beautiful is that which gets to grow free and unrestricted, creating tranquil oases, hidden from view, scented by natural perfumes. One day perhaps I will have my dream come true - until then I tend to the garden of my reality. And without any doubt, it is the only real asset of our old house.

Despite the fact that my father in law is an avid and extremely skillful gardener, my husband has no interest whatsoever in plants. To him gardening is just a bunch of boring chores, such as mowing the lawn and trimming the hedge. Thus when I moved in with him, I got the freedom and privilege to do whatever I pleased when it came to our yard.

To transform a neglected place to a lovely garden takes years and we might not even live here by then. Still, currently the outdoors offers the best therapy and seems to be the perfect recipe to cure my temporary sadness and loneliness. There is nothing like planting something and watching it grow and thrive. I take immense joy in looking after the plants and I survey them each day, looking for small changes that might have occurred over night. It gives me such a great satisfaction when the sun is out and I can tend to all the life that seems to spire and excel outside my home.

I can sense that our garden has already been established once, I only had to revive that which was already there - a multitude of roses, lilies, hollies, hollyhocks and scented shrubs. I added a few potted plants and flower baskets to our patio and planted a few vines to transform it into a lush and tranquil spot. I am also currently experimenting with seeds, which promise to grow into scented bloom attracting butterflies. Tending to our garden this way, I leave small souvenirs for the future occupants of the house. An imprint of my time here. Hopefully they will rejoice in the bloom I introduce just as I enjoy the the work of our predecessors. 

Gardening is like exercise - it must become a way of life, or it looses it's allure and is impossible to maintain. To me though there is nothing more magical than the outdoors. Plant and animal life and natural beauty holds almost a primal affection in my perception as the connection with nature is ancient and contained within my genes. I have always found solace and affirmation in its pristine beauty and will continue to see all natural life as an endless source of miracles and enchantment.

(All images in this post are taken in our garden, June 2012)