A bit of a late start today after the long evening of Christmas activities. As with all events we count down to, Christmas comes and goes quickly like magic, and now we will count down to some snow flakes to make the world more peaceful.
A forest walk, some family time and a bit of quiet are in the plans for today.
I wish you the world and you in it a healthy and peaceful day.
It’s cloudy here in North West Germany with clouds threatening to rain, and all feels ready to make a pause. Families are doing their last minute shopping and preparing for dinners at home with cozy lights, Christmas trees and gifts that get opened this evening. You can feel and see the excitement of children in their eyes.
It feels like a very good time to hit a reset button and settle into a contemplative place in oneself. For my daughter, it has always been the highlight (of several highlights) of the year and she counted the days till it finally arrived and the ceremony began.
I wish you all a healthy and peaceful Christmas and a gentle journey inwards if that is your aim.
If you celebrate Christmas, you must be counting down at this point to the event next Friday. Here in Germany, some of the cities like Duesseldorf are lucky to have their Christmas markets still open despite the rising Covid-19 numbers, but with restrictions.
At this point the change and strangeness of the pandemic can no longer be denied or ignored by anyone. Masked faces are becoming the new normal and we are learning to read faces from the expressions in the eyes. A city of masked super heroes who keep on going towards the holidays armed with hope, the will to live, the love of joy and being with family and friends.
The resilience of humans feels like an encoded gift in our genetic makeup. We somehow seem to adapt and keep finding the beauty in life despite the circumstances. History is filled with examples of this and it just makes me smile.
Enjoy the countdown and let’s see what this new year is bringing.
It is December 6th, and in this part of the world, a very important visitor appears to bring the Christmas spirit to children around Germany.
Nikolaus (who is not Santa), but a (Sankt Nikolaus or der Heilige Nikolaus), who was probably born around 245 C.E. in the port city of Patara in what we now call Turkey. Very little historical evidence exists for the man who later became the Bishop of Myra and the patron saint of children, sailors, students, teachers, and merchants.
He is credited with several miracles and his feast day is December 6, which is the main reason he is connected with Christmas. In Austria, parts of Germany, and Switzerland, der Heilige Nikolaus (or Pelznickel) brings his gifts for children on Nikolaustag, Dec. 6, not Dec. 25. And yes, ‘ das Christkindl’ still comes with more presents on December 24th!
Children clean their boots and leave them outside the door for Nikolaus to fill them with goodies, nuts, oranges and small gifts (if the children were good). There is a lot more to do with this tradition that is fascinating including the scary devil looking characters that travel with Nikolaus to frighten the children, but those are mostly skipped in our home.
hThe images were taken last night from home and the quiet neighbourhood, and it seems that Nikolaus upgraded from boots to basket on this occasion.
Good morning from my desk somewhere in Germany on a cold winter day. It is dark still before 6 am with our very short daylight hours at this time of year. Candles are lit, Christmas lights are on outside and that makes the world around me brighter and cosier.
I created this photo with my daughter in the image at the start of the pandemic when we all was still new, unknown, and in our minds a very temporary state of affairs. Here we are now almost 2 years later, looking at a 4th wave in Germany and watching the world grapple with this virus.
Familiarity is a strange thing, isn’t it? We used to perceive masks as a strange thing as we lived in China, where they were a common sight, but then as we lived there almost 12 years, they became part of the normals. Then in 2019, to wear and see masks around us in the European streets felt extremely strange, until that again became the normal, but is it?
Will we look back at this time of our lives and see it for the strange and impactful part of human history that it really is?
Hoping you are healthy, safe and happy wherever you are…
Good morning to you from Germany. How shall we start this?
I have been planning for a while to restart my 365 project that I did in the past and loved immensely: a picture and a short writing every day for one year, and today felt like the right day to begin.
Its’ the first day our home tradition of exchanging 24 small gifts before Christmas and for this, my daughter has always woken up very early to see what awaits her. There are 24 small boxes that contain 24 small gifts and thoughts of care about her and she has grown to love that.
This year, she gifted me one back, and now I can smile knowing that the tradition will carry on…
Who can be sure that the future is a continuation of and a consequence of the now? Could it be that the future is arriving independently of all what has been and that is?
Isn’t every dawn a new fresh beginning and a new permission for a brand new future?
Do we decide our future or is it predestined?
Is the answer hidden in the future and any answer that we arrive at today is already condemned to be in the past?
And what about light? What lives in the ever changing light?
Today I took this iphone photo of a tree outside my parents in law’s home where we are gathered for Christmas and I showed it to my sister in law. The light had a haunting quality in that moment that made me stand still in utter awe.
She ran out to the window and said to me “you must have magicked your image, it does not look like that!”
The truth is it did look like that and so much more but light doesn’t wait. It moves and evolves and radiates differently with every passing moment. Light is alive that way.
Musing last from an enchanted Christmas Day in the German countryside.
Europe loves its Christmas Markets, the festive mood, the warm drinks cuddled by cold hands, the delicious smells of roasted almonds and the magical lights that chase away the darkness of winter. From the first advent till the winter solstice, people try to spend as much time as possible out in the markets calling on hope, warmth and light to comfort them through the long hard winters.
In the last 2 weeks I went with my camera and some fellow photographers chasing the Christmas spirit from Valkenburg in the Netherlands to Duesseldorf and then today to magical Cologne.
One of the perks of Living in Europe is the proximity of major cities and the ease of traveling around the culturally rich continent. Breakfast in xanten, Germany and lunch in Brussels, Belgium is a stress free affair!
Our family is looking forward to moving to Germany this coming summer after 11 years in Shanghai, China. I am interested in how the move will color my photography and art.
We are a few hours away from the onset of the New Year here in Germany. It has been a testing year, a learning experience and a good platform for what is to come next. I feel a strong sense of hope thinking of 2016 and a renewed feeling of inspiration. Thank you for having been there, my family, my friends, my fellow photographers, my much admired artist community, and everyone who has taken part in this journey here with me. You make my world brighter!
A lot of exciting things planned for 2016 artistically. More soon…