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I had a great walk with friends yesterday afternoon. We realized that until then none of us had been up to the hills surrounding Vienna during the winter — especially not when the landscape was covered in its fine, white blanket. It’s strikingly silent, breathtaking and pacifies a need for nature.

I wanted to capture the textures of the landscape in this series of photographs.

These photographs were all taken between Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg, Vienna, Austria.

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I had a strange desire to take a photo in the apartment last night. Other than the previous post, that is, which doesn’t show anything in our flat. I was inspired after seeing some low-light photographs earlier in the day.

This photograph was taken with a 30 second exposure, but I’m looking forward to getting out and experimenting more.

These tulips survived their stay on the living room table for a week. They were decoration for my birthday dinner last week. We dragged out the old particleboard plank, and covered it in deep-blue packaging paper and had a feast with as many friends as could fit.

Andrea and I agree that we’ll leave them out until all the petals fall off; the flowers are a reminder of the great time and what I’ve been introduced to as “the birthday week.”

I swear the expressions in this portrait changed from one moment to the next. She smiles more — tell me you see that tinge of a smile — and he obviously frowns more.

I didn’t note the original artist of the portrait (I know, shame on me), but I will note that this fantastic composition appears at Dschungel (children’s theatre), and that I particularly enjoy the tiled wall that appears in the bottom right corner.

This winter I have really enjoyed the season. It has actually been wonderful; cold and snowy and beautiful, just the way it should be (have I said that before?). For some strange reason one usually does not really remember if there even was a winter last year.  But then it all comes back…

We stopped to catch our breath. Winter makes me stop and notice things more, because everything is so spare and still. In this suburban area outside of Stockholm, not only people live there, but foxes and woodpeckers for sure, and deer come around to find food without much fear, too.

When I was little, we would run out to build a snowman. Afterward, we would have a snowball fight. Sometimes it ended in tears. As we knew it would (because it almost always does)… When it snows, either activity is ideal — that, or collecting fresh snow, taking it back into the warm house, and drizzling maple syrup over it as a treat.

Ode to a Lemon

Pablo Neruda

Out of lemon flowers
loosed
on the moonlight, love’s
lashed and insatiable
essences,
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree’s yellow
emerges,
the lemons
move down
from the tree’s planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with it-
bazaars
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation’s
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.

So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
wells
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.


We had been walking for hours. By late afternoon we were in Södermalm, which is the largest southern island in Stockholm. We were strolling the hills up and down, and sometimes we made a game out of crushing thin sheets of ice beneath our feet. It was so cold that we spent a bit of time stopping into stores to warm-up.

Södermalm is famous for the small second-hand and vintage-clothing shops.

Not only black, cream or white but also turquoise, ochre, magenta, carmine; the world opens up the minute you walk into a vintage store.

The boutique smelled like January. Like firewood maybe, and clementines, and warm breath. Coming from the cold, the heat in the store was suffocating, but it belongs to winter shopping. The music was playing (surprisingly loud ) a catchy tune; between a pop-tune and an indie sound.

I love it when an item looks so simple from the front but when you walk past, you’re just able to catch a glimpse of the “drama in the back…”

I like the variety of texture, pattern, material and associations.

I’m no botanist, but I can appreciate an amazing herb. So, I decided to do a watercolor painting of it this morning.

sage

I think it turned out pretty well for not having used watercolor paints for years.

A recipe I came up with earlier this week was char with a citrus-chili-sage sauce with sautéed fruit and vegetables served over couscous. The fruits and vegetables are all optional and can vary, but this time we enjoyed broccoli, bell-pepper and mango.

The sauce (was something like this):

A few T Extra virgin olive oil
1 T Butter
1 T Fresh lemon and orange zest and 4 ounces juice
1/2 T Chili powder (or to preference/taste)
4 leave chopped fresh sage
1 Onion and 1 shallot
A pinch (or two) of salt

I might also add some fresh thyme and/or parsley

Walking. A continuation of Gustav Vigeland park as the sun sets through the trees. I wonder if these trees were planted when the park was designed.

Unlike the current situation in the UK where snow is defeating British society, Norwegians and Swedes have a history of snow-filled days, and deal with it well. During our short stay, we walked to the store.

So we found ourselves roaming down a snowy street, like so many others.

It was one of the coldest days by far. I was secretly convinced that my striped wool knee socks hold special superpowers. The minute I slip them on, I feel like I can take on the world. Good feeling to have when one is about to take on -16°C, not including the wind chill.

So there we were, with warm feet, amongst naked bodies.

Vigeland Park in Oslo is unique in several respects. It contains almost 200 statues made by sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who worked on the park for more than two decades until his death in 1943. At the top of the park, there is a monolith statue, depicting the cycles of life in great detail; the human body and human condition, from babies to elderly. Surrounding the monolith are sculptures featuring naked humans: humans caring for children, being young and playful, humans as a couple, as friends, getting older, as well as our relation to death, inner demons and corruption.

A walk through the park and its garden laying under the thick and heavy snow felt just the way it should on the first day of the year.  And I’d say, if snow shoveling was a winter sport (and it is, kind of), somebody would win a gold medal in this park.

We continued our walk to the sun.