One season passes, the next approaches. One life phase transitions into another one. Snow covers clutter of the past, a fresh canvas onto which new ideas may be painted. Which shall remain unchanged? What must be adjusted? The past is frozen in place, but now and again color persists and defies the whiteout. Lonely figures reach high, rooted deep, yet fragile and delicate. Preparations for a period of hibernation begin, with the aspiration of a fresh awakening.
Noisy nights, deep yellow lights
tint the streets, hint at outcasts
that did outlast the grim cold winters of the past;
splinters in society.
Meanwhile, the crowd does join the Christmas fair –
snow in the air – to buy cheap wine,
to dine, to whine about the great decline
of their homeland that is quite fine.
And they move on and buy their beer
at Assal's shop, shoes from Amir,
on which they stumble home each year
to disappear, to leave the fear
beneath the starlit sky behind.
Irregularities give rise to normality. I’ll be back to English in the next post.
Im Juni 2020 ging es für uns in den Urlaub. Damals frisch verliebt, stimmte ich gerne der angestrebten Urlaubsplanung zu: Also, ab ins Gebirge. Das Richtige. Also zumindest das Richtigste was wir einfach so erreichen können, die Alpen. Quasi am Alpenrand geboren, war ich das erste Viertel meines Lebens (wobei diese Rechnung nur ohne einen voreiligen Tod aufgeht) eigentlich nie so richtig dort. Ein großer Fehler, denn auch die Berge haben anscheinend ein Plätzchen in meinem Herzen reserviert. Sobald wir dort waren, zwischen den erhabenen Gipfeln und tiefen Tälern, fühlte ich eine große Zufriedenheit. Und die Gipfel ziehen mich an. Ich sehe einen Gipfel und plötzlich will ich nur noch hinauf. Steiler Anstieg? – Egal. Wetter? – Egal. Hauptsache hoch, und zwar so hoch es geht.
Falls man mal nicht in den Alpen ist, gestaltet sich das Ganze etwas anders: Hier im flachen Norden ist das höchste der Gefühle schon bei 1141 Metern über Null erreicht und man steht mit 84 prozentiger Wahrscheinlichkeit in den Wolken. Aber wen interessiert schon Statistik – gefühlt sind es mindestens 93 Prozent. An den anderen Tagen bietet der Brocken dagegen wunderbare Ausblicke und ein echtes ‘Oben-Gefühl’, das meinen Gipfeldrang kurzfristig bändigt. Ebenfalls seit 2020 sind wir daher auch eifrig am Stempel sammeln, zumindest mit periodischer Eifrigkeit: Der Herbst und Winter hat es uns besonders zugesagt im Harz; wenn Nebel die Seen umschließt und Laubwälder der tieferen Lagen Farbspektakel bieten.
Dennoch, ich freue mich auch schon wieder auf den nächsten Urlaub in dem wieder zwei- und dreitausend Meter bewältigt werden können. Der Kopf so frei, wie die Alpendohle im Auftrieb und das Herz so voll, wie der Bauch in der Adventszeit.
Haze deprives the vibrance,
as days are getting short,
snow does glaze the rooftops,
wood ovens blaze in homes.
A lonely great white egret
delays his voyage south,
stays in the fading colors,
sun rays are lost in clouds.
I promise, there will also be other topics in future posts; but not today…
Glue on streets and food on art,
repeats each day, matter of heart?
"Not really," says the scientists
who gets the gist and is quite pissed
by egoists that do insist that a cold week
refutes the claim of climate change:
"To blame are others anyway."
The charts are clear, the problem sheer unsolvable;
each year is worse, each choice adverse,
the globe does not reverse its course – quite yet.
They marched on Fridays for a while,
but didn't reach the other isle:
Of people who don't care and stare
on their small screens where it just seems
as if the world is fine right now;
of people who don't share the bare
reality of what's to come;
of people who are still concerned
about their hard-earned treasuries
and do revel in memories about the past
as if they last apocalypse.
And now they found what upsets most:
A simple frowned upon protest
– where streets are used as seats –
defeats the calmness of the crowd
that clings to cars and is in rage
about the new found stage.
In galleries they do reside
throw calories with pride to guide
social debate where it belongs:
What are the values we esteem?
Why does it have to be extreme?
Why do we tolerate the wrongs?
And try to acclimate as if
the floods would stop? As if the crop
grows magically? While livestock drops
quite tragically dead onto barren desert floors –
necessity starts frightful wars.
Who really are the radicals?
Who really are the extremists?
Those who request a fair world
and are obsessed with equity?
Or those who halt the change,
assault the poor, default to strange
conventions from the past and cast
a future for us all that will, at last,
result in unsurpassed distress?
What is allowed, what justified?
This climate activism does
indeed evoke more buzz
than any boring chart. Apart:
It has a heart, and does still act in peace.
Unfortunately, no matter how many climate change conferences are arranged, the large-scale subsidization and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure continues to take place with each passing month. However, the immediate halt of any further investments into these sources of energy are one of the key factors to mitigate the climate emergency, according to the latest IPCC report. To the best of our knowledge, we steadily continue our path to more than 3 degrees of global warming, if we are lucky and tipping points don’t start to blow up all around us (and the likely do). If the choice is between some paintings and many many lives, I am gladly taking the latter.
Merging vacation and photography can be a little bit of a hassle. Should we enjoy the evening or hurry up the hill to catch the sunset? Get up before sunrise or finally sleep in as long as we want to? Enjoy the moment or reduce it to digital pixels? Pack another lens or another bottle of water?
Unfortunately, the photographer’s fear of missing out doesn’t stop when vacation is over. Every weekend, body and mind fight over the right time to get out of bed. And the rare days where we can sleep in happen to be ones where the long-desired fog appears. And thus, again, we get up earlier than we do during the week.
But the early mornings outside are also wonderful. A silence and calmness that we rarely experience elsewhere or at different times.
Luckily, the early autumn time is a blessing for this dilemma: not only does the landscape transform beautifully and all colors pop, but also the sun rises late and getting up at 7 a.m. is still sufficient to catch the twilight. But sometimes, I guess, I have to learn from my better half how to honor the lazy mornings without self-imposed obligations.
What does it take to get large blisters? Not very much, besides mesmerizing mountains, some determination, and lots of naivety.
It’s 0:30 a.m. when I faintly recognize my alarm clock. It takes a moment until I realize what’s going on. I get up, briefly change into the uncomfortably cold clothes, put on my hiking boots, shoulder my 10kg bag, and step in the vast valley below the starlit sky. It’s chilly at this time of day and I put on gloves and a scarf, although I know this will change only a few hours from now. Where am I headed? Toward a nearby mountain, which is yet so distant.
At the heart of the Julian alps there is Razor, a distinct peak barely reaching the 2600 meter threshold. Several routes are possible; I am taking the shortest and steepest one, from Soča Valley 1400m uphill towards Pogačnikov dom, and then another 600m altitude to reach the summit.
Why do I start so early? Because I want to be in time for the rising sun. Because I want to re-experience what I witnessed last year (twice): feeling on top of the world, as the world itself still seems asleep.
The beginning goes smoothly; as always, nature is mysterious and the eerie sounds and schemes of the forest drive away the last tiredness. I look into the dark and pairs of glowing eyes look back, attached to invisible bodies. Although I am confident in my stamina, the long winding ascent becomes more and more strenuous. I swiftly reach the hut after 3 hours but I feel that my legs are getting heavy. In hindsight, being so fast on the first part was maybe one of my mistakes to begin with. After the hut, the path first winds along grassy slopes before leading through large screes as it gets steeper and steeper. Some sections are secured with fixed ropes to clip into. After reaching Ganja pass, a last steep ascent awaits. Then, I have defeated the 2000m vertical elevation; in roughly five hours, and an hour before sunrise.
Due to the height difference, this route is often considered to be a two day trip with a sleepover in the hut, potentially also linking other summits. And while the ascent on its own feels fine for now, the way back down will teach me otherwise.
Now, at 5:30 a.m. the morning light just settles in; the hills in the distance are plunged in a deep and profound glow with a color palette ranging from pitch black to lavender to saffron yellow. Colors I have never seen anywhere else besides when being on a mountain top at this time of day. An astounding show the sun and atmosphere prepare every day, and that far too few people ever witness. The elegance of nature has the power to amend the human heart.
I relish the brief moments, well aware how quickly they pass by; the sun appears and transforms the landscape. It rises in the distance and brings the long awaited warmth. It also brings a new palette of colors, contrasting the ones from the hour before: pastels all around.
And already, I head back again. Normally, I am rather quick going downhill, but this time is different. The path feels like it never ends and the daylight reveals what I could only suspect a few hours before: it’s steep, it’s long, and there are endless hairpin bends. My legs hurt, and a particularly unpleasant blister gets worse and worse.
Getting back down takes me longer than getting to the top, but it was worth every second.