Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

The internet is large and most content is shallow. Navigating clickbait, fake news, and social media is exhausting. But sometimes, it also yields something precious, something that is a worthwhile the investment of time, or something that evokes true emotion.

For me, this is mostly the case when someone has mastered his or her art and excels in what they do, such as these three hidden gems I found recently:

Photo Post: P25

Photo Post: P25

Record temperature highs all around, forest fires all over Europe, and an advancing drought that threatens food and energy production – only a small glimpse of what will come.

So, instead of exposing ourselves to the constant stream of news, we enjoyed some of the beautiful nature nearby by hiking the P25 trail near Kleinalmerode. It’s one of the newest premium trails in Hesse and the closest one to our home. Normally, Kleinalmerode is known for its cherry blossom in late spring; but during this time of year we strolled through barley fields, found lots of insects scaling cornflowers, and observed bumblebees exploring the landscape of flowers. It also revived my passion for macro-photography and hopefully I’ll manage to use some more of these long Summer days to pursue photography.

Photo Post: Pause

Photo Post: Pause

A small selection of pictures taken on our way to and on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Dramatic weather made for some interesting skies during the middle of the day, but (near) constant rain spoiled the hiking and photography fun. Skye is beautiful; but so is the mainland. However, unlike the mainland Skye is flooded with tourists. So we agreed that this single visit is enough for us for now.

A Short Reading List

A Short Reading List

A brief list of some of the books I read during the last year, thanks to Fräulein Klitzeklein. The first draft of this post is already from last Winter but only now I came around to finishing it. It is mainly intended for myself: to remember which books I read, what they taught me and how they affected me, as well as what I wanted to take away.


Der Buchspazierer, by Carsten Henn

The mundane, the monotonous, the every day rhythm. This book is about those things. And how they are among the ones that matter most in life. It matters what you make out of it. It matters with whom you persevere through it. It’s the daily interactions with people around, however small they might be, that make it worth it. An easy-going story, yet scratching to the bones, about passion to detail, about finding unexpected friends, and about loyalty.


Der Gesang der Flusskrebse / Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens

This one invigorated my passion for nature and science as it elegantly intertwines both within a complicated story of a complicated life. It features a deep appreciation for the nature and its inhabitants. Never give up, stand up for yourself, and life can be unfair. I finished the second half in a single day, something that hasn’t happened for quite a while.


Die Bücherdiebin / The book thief, by Markus Zusak

I never would have picked this one up myself. All the more, I am fortunate that it got forced upon me: Probably the most impactful read for me so far. Deeply moving, cleverly narrated, a story of genuine humanity. Where heroes are inconspicuous, but never have been more important. Where the profound joy and all inexpressible horror of life cling to each other like there is no tomorrow. Where the smallest childhood memories become something larger than themselves. A story of innocence and trust, of apples and daunting terror, of the power of words and how they shape our world.


Zugvögel / Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy

Nobody is flawless: There is always good and bad, even though it can be difficult to perceive it. Do not judge others, especially if you cannot relate to their experiences. Sometimes they are more similar to you as you might think. Attaining redemption is a journey, as our life, without goals other than the ones we define ourselves. And no one is prepared for the abruptness of the end as it might arrive every second of your life.


Das Flüstern der Bäume / Greenwood, by Michael Christie

An entertaining novel narrated cleverly to blend a multitude of time frames to illustrate the larger picture of our society, our history, and our planet. Has a bit of everything, and thus, a bit of nothing.


Der Circle / The Circle, by Dave Eggers

Exhausting read and quite demanding. Balances on the uncomfortable gap between surreal fiction and actual reality that keeps bouncing in your head for quite a while after. A constant warning of where humanity currently is and which direction we might be heading in a digitized world, paired with deep-reaching questions about our individual purpose of life. About the phenomenal benefit and destructive power of data, as well as societies inability to grasp the impact of what they create.


Was man von hier aus sehen kann / What You Can See from Here, by Mariana Leky

A wonderful story of love, life, death, family, and nature from the eyes of a growing human. It charms with wonderful characters that are narrated so well that you’re sure you’ve met them in real life. And even after closing the book, they occupy your mind and keep lingering there with their struggles, their joy, and their words of wisdom. This book shows how to embrace triviality, how to cope with setbacks, and how a village community manages to navigate life.


Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Several of my friends read John Greens books during high school. I never did. Maybe I am pleased with this fact. It’s like listening to good music for the first time: It’s something special; you should find the right time and place and embrace it because it’s your only chance to experience it in this way. This book has power, no matter your age. It leaves marks.


The Fault in our Stars, by John Green

An absolute masterpiece. Utterly moving. Possibly life changing. Who would’ve thought that a romantic journey of high school students can be told with such intensity. An honest, melancholic, and moving experience. See also That which remains.


Umwege des Lebens / The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult

My first one from Jodi Picoult and presumably not the last one (and I am told there are way better ones). A potpourri of topics mingled into a love story in our contemporary world. By this, it aims to please many, which comes at the cost of some tiring sections. Besides exploring complicated relationships and lifelong dreams, it focuses around the process of dying.

Cairngorms

Cairngorms

The vastness of the Cairngorms was especially appealing to me. With 1107 square kilometres, the Cairngorms are Scotlands largest national park – perfect for getting lost in nature and a paradise for hiking. Apparently, it’s also a paradise for capercaillies as we noticed pretty quickly: They were quite abundant and apparently the courtship was in full swing. They didn’t display for the camera though, in contrast to Stonechats and Wrens. Especially for the latter one, it was a treat to see it so close in the late evening hours. Besides, the Cairngorms host 5 of the 10 highest mountains of Scotland – watch out for one of the next posts which will be all about the Munro mountains.

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

The land is flat and stretches out,
it seems that here the birches sprout
quite willingly in swamps and marsh,
the light is golden, never harsh.
The birds sing different and fly
towards far places, as the sky
turns orange and leaves us behind,
vanishing traces in the mind,
condensed adventure, precious time,
forgetting it might be a crime.

Dunnock

Dunnock

Besides their primary purpose, cemeteries exhibit properties that are hardly ever valued: First, they seem to offer great parking spots for a nights rest in a van (I guess this information shouldn’t be distributed widely, especially not on an internet blog). Secondly, they offer great potential to photograph wildlife – birds and squirrels in particular (however, the latter are rather quick, rendering the photography difficult for a sluggish human who just crawled out of bed). Also, as it should be, cemeteries are calm, quiet, and peaceful; and: very few people seem to visit them (myself included), especially when most graves are from long forgotten times. So, last week, I checked out the largest cemetery in our town, watched the squirrels, and took some pictures of the many many birds that scurried around:

Keeping a Clear Frame

Keeping a Clear Frame

Spring, flowers, sun. Finally some motivation to go outside again and search for the most beautiful early bloomers. This year, I could profit from all the scouting I did last year: Besides the botanical gardens and large patches right in front of the town hall, I now know about several other spots: Off the beaten track at the river, hidden deep within in a small forest, and at the outskirts of the city. All of these locations have on thing in common: They are calm, quiet, and you have them for yourself. And, as always, there is lots to learn every time I go outside. The main insight this year so far is quite straight-forward: isolate the subject and have clear edges of the frame. The subject should emerge from within the frame, not from outside. But you can judge for yourself which ones you find most intriguing:

That which remains.

That which remains.

She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth.

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

From nothing, to being, to remembering, to being remembered, to nothing. Memories come, memories fade, become stories, get forgotten. Lost in a loosing universe; one of many. We only shape the being, we only choose the remembering.

Light snowfall decorates the pastures. Cold wind sweeps through my hair. Friends and family are with me, not only in my heart. I am as satisfied as one could be. But then, I notice it. A foreign species: standing still, patiently, waiting on the other side of the fence, observing me carefully; while the snowflakes settle in on the creatures head. I approach it slowly. My mother always taught me: If unsure what to do, just mimic your opposite – and so I do: carefully, I observe back. I fathom what happens within its mind: Are there thoughts about the landscape? The next meal? About the absurdity of our mutual and reciprocal study? Or is this creature not capable of such thoughts? Does it just dwell in this moment, right here? Enchanted by the simplicity of nature? Why does it seek our company? There are no answers, only silence. No one will know, and no one will remember. I cautiously moo to call the others – so that we can observe the pale-skinned creature together, as it is operating a small black box from time to time. Until it leaves again and we settle in for the night.