Out of the tunnel

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Last year at this time I was sick with untreated hypothyroidism, my father in law was dying, I was preparing for my nerve-wracking defense, I had severe back-ache and knew I’d probably have to (reluctantly!) change jobs.

Not a good time. I felt like a ghost in my own life.

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And yet I made this video (with a cold!) to explain the phenomenon of Swedish Lucia that always falls on December 13. (And which will have to suffice this year too because I’ve been too busy to make a new one.)

My year since then has been… interesting. January was a complete disaster in every respect, and each month that followed it brought a fresh new twist (of the knife). My back got better, then worse, then better, then worse, etc etc ad nauseam. I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism and got medication. Other stuff happened. I got my good job back again. It was fun and hard and a little bit frightening.

And in the end, it seems I’m destined to survive 2017. Maybe in hindsight, it’ll be the best thing that ever happened. Because now I’m here, soon a one-year-old in academic terms, and I’m not the same person I was then. I’ve even made peace with a certain TV series that broke my heart the very first day of January and then proceeded to royally fuck with my head for longer than I care to admit.

And as we enter the darkest week of the year, I see more light than ever before.

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Oh my God, finally! We’ve only had clouds, clouds, and more clouds for longer than I care to count. And okay, yes, we need clouds if we want snow, but come on. The sun is only up for four and a half hours this time of year, so a sun that’s actually visible is very much appreciated.

And today it was. I headed out before lunch to catch some rays before they disappeared behind the mountains. I chased the sun up snowy forest hillsides and got all wet and cold and snowy, but lord was it worth it. Everything was so beautiful.

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Frozen droplets in the trees.

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Yellow rays on the bluish snow.

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Mist over the snowy lake.

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Fluffy clusters of ice crystals in the trees.

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Clouds turning pink as the sun disappeared behind the tree tops at one o’clock.

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And on the subject of ‘the things we do for a photo’…

But it was a wonderful day that really wiped my soul clean of all the weariness I was carrying around. Now I’m tired in a more physical way, which is better. Time for some mulled wine and Christmas decorating!

Agent down

When I got the news, it was like a sliced fingertip. First there was nothing, no sensation at all. Then that hot, tingly feeling that’s the harbinger of pain – the deep breath before you realize you’ve cut yourself, deep. And then… pain and blood, hitting with full force.

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We used to call you “our man in Berlin”. I don’t think you ever knew that. In hindsight, it’s almost too apt. You were undercover, off somewhere doing the impossible, and we watched from afar. Your absence was literal, but also figurative. You had your own Scorpio world, populated by phantoms and screams. We never really knew you. Maybe no one did.

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Our few moments of real connection – Nick Drake, Recoil, And One, always there was a soundtrack to these moments – were unexpected bursts of sun in a gloomy cloudscape where our efforts at communication were, in your own words, exercises in estrangement.

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And yet, even though we never really connected, it feels like a part of me is gone. How’s that for banal? But you once said it’s the banal stuff that counts, so I’m allowing myself a piece of clichéd emotion in your honour.

At one time, I even wanted to be you. I wanted that darkness, that mystery to be mine. Wanted my ordinariness to be excised. I was attracted, like you’re attracted to a sheer cliff. Like you toy with the idea of stepping into that nothingness beyond.

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But your cliff was something else entirely. It was real in a way mine never was, and now you’ve taken that step. This new absence of yours is total, concrete, unquestionable. And I want to tell you. I want to call you and say, “You’ll never believe what happened – you died!” We’d laugh about it – about the obviousness, the improbableness of it all. About how I wrote it in a song fifteen years ago. About ravens and Poe and fate.

But I can’t tell you, and so it’s like you’ll never know. That you’re not here. We’re all here, everyone who knew you, and you’re not-here. As if you’ve taken the concept of leaving a party early to go home and listen to Kindertotenlieder to a whole new level.

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And that’s how I choose to see it. That you left. That death took you with your consent. That you completed your mission and dropped your gun in the Havel.

 

As for us, we no longer have a man in Berlin.

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These damn swans

Or should I say, “This damn telezoom that’s all I could afford and that’s NOT living up to any kind of expectations”?

Weeell, never mind. Photography is more than crispness (I’m told, but…). And it’s not the lens’s fault that I stubbornly left the ISO on 100. But oh, how I would have wished this one to be sharp!

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But who knows, maybe in a while, I’ll even think these are quite nice, with that Constable vibe they’ve got going.

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Morning fog

I got up early again, because I missed yesterday’s spectacular dawn with gravlax pink and gold shining through the bus window. But when I reached the hill where I’d planned to snap my pictures, I was just too foggy. Made for some atmospheric shots of the woods, though.

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These are some interesting geese. They’ve been following the swans around the pond for weeks now. As soon as the swans move, so do the geese!

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The sun finally rose over the misty hills. Here seen peeking at a sleeping lorry.

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Fire in the darkness

This weekend was dull – weatherwise. The sky was constantly overcast, but it was warm and we went for a drive to look for mushrooms and photo subjects. I’m not sure I’m happy with the results, but at least you can see the impossible, fiery red colour of the autumn shrubbery against the leaden background.

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A slight mist shrouded the faraway mountains. Here and there, individual trees had turned yellow, which made them stand out from their green brethren.

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Lower down in the forest, whole areas had turned completely golden.

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I don’t know what these dark red leaves are, but they were everywhere!

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They look like something out of a fantasy movie. What would they be called? Fire-leaf? With medicinal or hallucinatory properties, perhaps…

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In the evening, we made a real fire and stayed outside until it was pitch black.

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