Sunday, February 15, 2015

Vinter Vonder Valentine's Day

Before my initial trip to Norway, my unfortunately naive and unknowing host (he had no idea what he was getting into, offering his time and home to me for a bit) told me that 'there are three types of fjords here (there).  There are fjords, Fjords and FJORDS.'

He was not and is not wrong except for one point.  There are degrees of fjords throughout Norway, yes.  But 'fjords' are no less compelling than 'FJORDS'.  Except in size, they compare in all other components.  And I can say (write) that with utmost confidence because today I snow-shoed across and around a fjord.

On this Valentine's Day, I walked across a body of frozen water which was bolstered on each side by magnificent walls of snow-laden rock, watching the sun set along the western ridge (bank?).

Today I stood, stood, in the middle of a fjord, leaned on a trekking pole, and could not believe the wonder I felt- the marvel, the inspired childlike awe.  I reveled in it.

It was by far one of the most perfect moments I have ever experienced.  For in that moment, I felt all my worry, trouble and distress melt away.  I felt a distinct surge of power and exhilaration overwhelm me, knowing that I was connected in a very real, very fundamental way to this earth, this space, this collision of land and sea and deep-freeze.  I felt at ease- which is not something I often feel... this complete, total ease.

But more than that, there was peace in that ease, grace in that ease, perfection in that ease.  And there is nothing that can compare to that feeling- not even a FJORD. 

And until next time, all of my dear hearts.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Familiarity With Clouds

I realized today, staring out the window of a(nother) plane, that clouds have changed.

When I was a child, like all children, I stared up at the sky, at clouds passing above me.  They floated like wisps of cotton candy.  They threatened like boulders rolling toward a precipice.  They danced. They disappeared, and reappeared.  They became animals, people, playthings.

I knew clouds then.  I could name them all.  I gave them meaning, I whispered what they looked like to me.  I saw dinosaurs, vegetables, mythical creatures all floating above me.

I knew clouds then, from below.

I knew clouds from below.

But now, things have changed.  I now know, and at this point it is with intimacy, clouds from above.  I have seen the tops of clouds from planes and from mountain perches.  And I have come to an understanding with them- for they have their own uniqueness, their own personality.

I look at clouds now, from above, and I see that familiar distinction.  I see wave upon wave of oceanic ether.  I see the ridged backs of dragons in the sky.  I see a myriad of colors reflected by an endless horizon of vapor and oxygen and water: mango, tangerine, lemon, blue blue blue, lavender.

Many things happen when you travel as a rule.  You learn to make ends meet; you learn to make conversation happen like magic; you learn to drink in, like a glutton, every moment that has meaning.  Because every moment that has meaning is a treasure.  Because every time I look out the window of this plane or perch at the top of that mountain, I find myself unexpectedly.

I did not know, nor could I have guessed, that this different and exceptional knowledge of clouds would come from travel.  But I will drink it in.

Because that is what I do.

Until next time, Cheers Dearhearts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Cold Day in… Norway

It is, periodically, somewhat chilly in the winter in Norway.  Call me crazy, but that's just an observation.

So I give you…

A study of ice.

Note in the first photo, those are paw prints- tread delicately across the frozen water.  Then there are the birds.  Look closely.  They are all perched on top of the pond- including the swan.  (I may or may not have used the zoom function on my camera to make sure of that.  Believe me- it's a bit unsettling when you use it on an unsuspecting plant… forget about an unsuspecting bird.)

What makes me glow here, in this cold cold country, is the way Nature is still so present even in the coldest of cold moments; it is the way that Nature plays with cold, forms it and follows it, and chases it in circles until one is simply a part of the other.  Ice becomes a canvas on which to trace splintering lines and flowing loops.  Snow becomes a challenge of individuality.  The puff of air that is your breath on an exhale becomes visually arousing because suddenly you see proof of your own life, proof of your being alive, living.  You can see proof that you are present.

Until next time, enjoy the show Dearhearts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Dream About Birds

Last night I dreamt about birds.

And here's the thing about me and dreaming, I have a beautiful mind for dreams.  My brain is a maze of symbology, experience, memories and power.  So when my subconscious takes over as production manner of sleep, wild things happen.

I dreamt of being in a house that was, intuitively, mine.  Two rooms made an impression, made the cut as the stage.  And as is so common with dreams the place was simultaneously perfectly familiar and perfectly foreign to me.  The front room, what may have been a living or sitting room, was bright with sun and components of an old house-sitting job I used to do in Baton Rouge.  Mellow fabrics, dark wood and yes, so bright with sun.  The kitchen was similarly lit but was the kitchen of my childhood home in Westfield, New Jersey- updated a little, removed from the Victorian house I grew up in, and magically transported to a house in my head.

For the most part, my life has been spent in the American East.  Most of that time has been in the American South.  Dozens of seasons in North Carolina and Louisiana; months here or there in Maryland.  I know the way the world feels in the South.  I know what the air tastes like in the winter, and the slanting processions of shadows in the fall.  I know summer heat.  And I know the light in the spring.  Light in the South, in the spring, is soft; the sun has not yet taken on the edge it does in the summer.  It is butter-colored and warm in the best way, elementally airy and sweet.

That light lit the stage of the rooms, the chambers of my mind.

And when you are alone in your home in the South and the sun feels like that, you open the windows and listen to the world (which is hopefully quiet and calm).  Which is exactly what my dream-self did.

Which is when I was visited by three birds- harbingers, I am sure, of something.  But I cannot yet tell you what.

Moving in the liquid atmosphere that is as close to a constant as I can imagine in dreams, I opened the front window, a window that dream-Kate apparently kept without a screen.  For a heartbeat the peace was palpable and then the wind was brought into the house by a hawk who swooped past me and screamed in to the kitchen where it made an unholy racket.  I had the same reaction to the dream-hawk as I did to the (second) real-bat in my tiny apartment in Vermont.  Lock the dog in the other room, open the door, hit the floor and pray.  The panicked not-time of dreams seemed both ever-lasting and instantaneous.  As soon as the hawk appeared he seemed to disappear back out of the window through which he came.

Then I did something that real-Kate would never do.  I thought to close the window, just in case there was a repeat performance in mine and the hawk's future.  But no.  Not hawks this time.  Next through the still-open window was a troupe of hummingbirds.  Yes, at least ten soft-green and gently gold hummingbirds launched themselves into that first room of the house.  They followed me in a swarm when I tried to run, to be rid of them.  Having ten dream-hummingbirds flying around your head is not necessarily as pleasant as it seems.

But worse still is having one dream-magpie launch itself through the still open window.  Utterly defeated by this latest bird in the aviary army, I laid on the floor and curled into a tiny ball, as small as I could make myself, desperate to protect myself.  And yet the magpie persisted.  It writhed between the shield I tried to make with my arms and proceeded to peck below my left eye, slowly moving toward the actual thing.

Right before it pecked my eye out, my Mom swooped in (pardon the pun), to startle the creature, and send it flitting away.   Right after, I woke up- both eyes intact but unsettled by this dream.  Are the birds, like Scrooge's three ghosts, visitors with unsavory intent?  Or are the birds just birds?

Are the birds ever just birds?

Until next time, regardless of what dreams may come…

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snapshots of Budapest

I give you a small photo blog of Budapest.
The city on the river. 

An accidental awesome photo, the rain got in the way
of the lens which got in the way of a passing
tourist so up went the camera and out
came this little beauty. 

Across the Chain Bridge there are probably
thousands of little locks.   Like a
wishing well, but more permanent. 

Yeah.  I take pretty amazing photos… but when you are
in a place that just looks like this…?  I'm not
actually that impressive. 

The river, the bridge, the shadows in the sun. 

Okay yeah, I became a creepy tourist for a minute
and took a photo of someone else's child.  But
she was so taken by this frozen fountain that
I couldn't resist.  Haven't we all had those moments?
(both creepy photo moments
and rapturous kid moments).

If you know me, you probably
know that I have a small obsession
with ravens.  This gate is just outside
of the castle on Buda Side.  What you can't
see is that the iron raven is stealing a gold

This is what happens to a grown man when you
give him two Euro, five arrows, and a bow.

The sky really is this blue, not unlike the
 blue of North Carolina in the spring.

See you all so soon.