Feathers to feathers, air to air

I’ve had a very strange morning. It didn’t start out very strange. Well, that’s not entirely true. For one, I slept less than my boyfriend, and got up BEFORE my room-mate! Both of these things are very uncommon for me. To explain why I got up so early, I need to back up a little.

Of late, I’ve started getting aches and pains and a bunch of disturbingly crackling and popping noises in my knees, hip, back, shoulders and neck. It got worse with time so I went to the doctor. The doctor sadly didn’t say that all I need is good love, instead she claimed that if I simply started exercising more all of these problems would go away. Apparently if you experience joint-problems, running, biking and swimming is going to help, because the more stress you put on them, the better. Oh the logic. Anyway, even though I’m not entirely convinced the exercise will solve all these problems, I figured it also wouldn’t really hurt. (I wasn’t entirely correct there either, since my knees feel a little worse for the wear now, but according to the good doctor I should be getting better so I’m going to keep doing this for a while.)

So I got a membership card that covers all of the public swimming-pools in the Stockholm area, a swimsuit that doesn’t look completely indecent and went on my merry way to become healthier. I signed up three days ago and I’ve swum every day since. I love swimming, the water is calming, the motion is tiring but also relaxing and there is just something so tranquil and euphoric about floating, half weightless, in those blue waters. All I really need now is to find a time when the pool isn’t teeming with people. I’d prefer a bit more privacy and a bit more space to swim around in.

That’s why I went this morning. Saturdays they have an hour and a half, women only. So I figured that a) there would be less people there (I was wrong) and b) at least someone wouldn’t be gawking at me as I was trying to fix my joint-problem. 7:30 sharp I dragged myself hastily out of bed, had a quick shower, a bowl of yoghurt with honey and a glass of orange-juice. I checked my mail, glanced over the facebook updates and headed out the door. I was a little behind schedule, and in my hurry I almost missed it.

One step ahead of me up the sets of stairs between our apartment buildings and the little pathway leading down to the subway there was a bird. A tiny bird, lying perfectly still on the step, almost invisible in its grey and brown against the stone of the steps. I froze. The bird didn’t move, but its eyes appeared to narrow just a little. I thought for a moment. What to do? The bird might already be dead, but if it wasn’t, could I save it? I was running late for my swim. I stuck the cigarette in my mouth and walked past the bird. I stopped five steps later, cursing under my breath. I have this problem where if there is someone in need, human or animal of other kind, or even a half-dying plant, I need to help them to the best of my abilities. I couldn’t just let the bird lie there if it could still be saved.

So back to the apartment I ran, found a plastic bottle-cap and filled it with liquid honey and lukewarm water, got some breadcrumbs from the cupboard above the fridge and then headed back out, carefully and slowly so as not to spill any of the honey-water. In my head the little bird first stared at the cap to determine whether I was trying to poison it or not, then drank from it, slowly regaining health and strength until it’d fly away. I reached the steps. My little feathered protegé was lying in an awkward position, head against the ground, and I just knew. In the three or so minutes it had taken me to get the water and bread from my place and return, the little fellow had died. I was devastated, and a little grossed out. In one last, futile attempt, I put the cap down next to its head and spread the crumbs around it. I knew the bird was dead but if there was any hope, I wasn’t going to take my chances.

I went swimming and on my return the little one was still lying there. Confused as to what to do I tried calling the sup, but it being a Saturday he was of course not in his office. I then called my boyfriend, despairing over what to do. I knew I should really put it in a plastic bag and just dispose of it in the trash but I really didn’t want the little guy to go that way. No-one should ever have to be put in the trash. So after some mental dialogue, I threaded some bags over my hand and dug out a big bird-feather that Selon had dragged home one day on one of his little adventures. Back at the steps for the fourth time today, I looked, and the bird wasn’t lying next to the cap anymore. For a second, I thought someone had moved it, maybe buried it as I intended to, but then I saw him lying to the side of the steps. Like someone had just kicked him out of the way.

I gingerly picked him up with my makeshift lab-gloves and carried him off to some secluded location. I was amazed at how very light he was. I grew up on a farm so on occasion I’ve had to move dead mice from the traps, and they are heavy buggers, but this little bird weighed next to nothing, and it made me even more sad somehow. After a few minutes of walking, I saw a rocky elevation in the forest next to the road. What better place to bury a bird than high up? I climbed it, drenching my flats in the process, and put the little one down on a tuft of grass in the middle of the rise. Then I placed the big bird-feather over him. “I hope you had a good life” I told him, looking at the tiny eye, still wondering if it was going to come back to life at any minute, and then walked off.

It’s strange how something so very random, something that should be of no concern to us, can move us so very deeply, and make such a strong impression. I felt horrible over that second where I almost walked away without even trying to save this little bird, and then I went out of my way to make sure it would have the best bird-funeral in history. If it wasn’t for my joints I’d never have gone to the doctor, and then in turn I would probably not have picked up swimming, and if I hadn’t I would not have stepped outside today, or if I had, maybe at a later time, when I would not have seen the little brown and grey feather-ball against the brown leaves and slush next to the steps where someone kicked it out of the way. So the little bird is gone, but his presence did not go unnoticed, for in his memory lie some breadcrumbs on the stone-steps, next to a bubble-gum pink bottle-cap filled with honey-water.

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The Four Seasons

No, I’m not writing about the Vivaldi composition. Well,  I could link it to you for sure, but that’s not really the theme here. I would have to do a lot more research to be able to write an entire blogpost about that. What I meant to say is, the seasons are a’changing now. In Sweden at least, summer has with certainty and determination taken the giant step into fall, with all things, good and bad, in tow. So without further ado, I present to you, a little something about what I think about when I think about the Four Seasons.

 

Spring.

I feel that spring brings out the child in us all. Yes, we become wild and crazy to break free from a long and hard winter, but in a soft and kind way. Everything seems brighter, softer yet with more contrast. The colours are vibrant yet natural, gentle enough that they won’t scare a doe or frighten a hare that peaks through the greenery. For me as a child, spring always meant Easter with all its joys. Egg-hunts, egg-eating, egg-boiling, egg-painting, egg-cracking. Chocolate and candy in giant colourful papier-mache containers. Decorations galore. Sour herring on hard-bread with gräddfil. And more eggs. Oh the special sort of magic there was for me in that early morning, sneaking around the house in the hope to catch the Easter Bunny on his busy route. In later years once I started losing faith, the honour of egg-hider sometimes fell on my skinny shoulders. But I think what I looked forward to the very most with spring was the flowers. I have always, and probably will always, love, live, breathe for flowers. To be able to make that first wraith and place on my head in a playful attempt at some long forgotten youthful goddess was for me an insurmountable joy.

Summer.

Ah the warmth. The long days, the light almost tangible, certainly tangible when it turns into a solid sunburn on your bare skin. For me as a child, summer started off as a hazy blur of splashing around in the kiddy-pool or the ocean, then wild-strawberries threaded onto grass-straws, then the smell of benzine at gas-stations as we stopped for ice-cream. As soon as I got past the toddler stadium it was about fighting the imaginary enemies that me and my siblings saw in the tall weeds, a fallen tree turned into a fort, we’d hide amongst stacks of fire-wood with nuts and dried fruits that we’d stolen from the kitchen… but better still were summers as I got just a little older. Then I started seeing the magic in all. I could see the little fairies as they darted in the twilight-shadows, the tress whispering in the mild breeze, the special words and spells you could bind on a midsummer-night. Summer-rain was something truly special and fine, something to be enjoyed fully in silence, just accepting the lukewarm downpour. Thunder, oh the thunder and lightning! I would run outside so I could feel the mighty rumbles all the better, my worried parents calling after me. Oh the thunder-storm on a hot summer afternoon, followed by that fresh flowery scent that rises out of the very earth itself when glistening with the blessed summer-rain steams itself onwards into starry night.

Fall.

This season is what made me start writing this blogpost. I’m feeling it rising verily in my blood as we speak. I’ve always been a child of the fall you see 🙂 When I said that the sort of wildness you feel in spring is a childish and sweet one, I meant compared to the one you feel in the fall. Autumn brings about something heavy and dark, and urge to live and breathe while there’s still red in the leaves, before the ground freezes. Fall to me is hunt, gather, search, taste, see… crisp cold apples right of the branch stinging your teeth, that unique rustle of just fallen leaves underfoot, that special bite that the crazed wind brings to your cheeks… How can anyone explain just the way they feel when they see a Rowan ripe with berries in the evening-suns fire-rays? It’s a secret of ancient times, something that was spoken of so long ago we can’t quite understand the mystery now. Fall is my favourite season for that very reason. It’s wild, ripe, strong, fearless yet desperate, warm yet ruthless. It lets us feel what we feel, and if we feel nothing it makes us.

Winter.

Mmmmmm. It instantly makes me think of that special, snuggly, well-earned feeling you get when you’ve been out playing in the snow for hours and get inside to a roaring fire and a cup of hot chocolate. Do you think that is only a cliché and the stuff of stories? Because that was a whole lot of my winters growing up. That and struggling out of the drenched, stuffy winter-clothes. That and getting a face-full of snow. That and getting colds and aches and not being able to go outside. But despite all the hardships of winter, the special sense of calm that it brings us when all of nature falls asleep in a long and slow dream of spring, that special sense makes it all worth it to me. And then there’s Christmas. To some it is just a commercial trick to lure people into spending their money on worthless knacks and stress themselves into heart-attacks. But for me Christmas was stuffing little Santa’s helpers and angels into every available corner of the house, rolling out the Christmas-linens of every flat surface, decorating the ridiculously prickly fern-tree that my dad and older brothers had brought in from the forest nearby and then sitting back to wait for 12am to roll around, when the ham would be done cooking in the oven and we’d get to sneak some hot slices with mustard before bedtime. And when my dad read aloud to us from Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” as we spread the butter thickly on the Welsh Bara Brith and felt the cold wind try to force its way through the floor as we sat wide-eyed on lambskin rugs well into the dark hours… winter just couldn’t get better. And probably never will.

 

 

So which season is your favourite, if you have one? Why do you love or hate the seasons? What’s a really good seasonal memory that you’d like to share?

That tranquil place…

This post is about peace. I’m not talking about “war is bad” kind of peace, even though I’m all for that kind too. I’m talking about peace of mind, finding peace with yourself and who you are and being able to spend a moment with yourself and not feel like you want to rip your ears off. As always, input is more than welcome.

 

The Place.

To me, what place I am currently in greatly affects my mood. I can’t find peace in a place that has no semblance of it. Of course with the right tools – like a cup of tea, a cigarette or a book – peace can be achieved even in a crowded shopping-mall or next to a soccer-game. But ultimately, the right place is the greatest catalyst for peace for me. Often times I will look for such things as quiet, trees, out of the wind, not a lot of people, warm with a beautiful view over the ocean or maybe just hills. If I have found a nice place that is where I will return in times of dire need. Secure these places and treasure them, because the intrusion of others on this place might affect the way you feel about it.

The People.

I cannot stress this enough. I think we all know that around certain people in our lives, we get uncomfortable, stressed, scared or even just plain angry. There are individuals that trigger some unconscious response in us, making it more than impossible to feel at ease or good about anything when they are around. Sometimes we ourselves are at fault; there might have been a bad experience in our past involving this person which then gets brought up every time we see them. We might have been perfectly fine with their presence if that event had never come to pass. And sometimes we are just plain judgemental and decide that we do not like someone simply based on their clothes or tone of voice or their opinions. But for me the true peace-disturber just has something in their very essence, an air of something aggressive and negative that will not leave you alone and no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to find a sense of calmness around this person.

Atmosphere.

I might have brushed up against this part in “the place”, but an atmosphere is a different thing. Have you ever walked into a house and just felt a sense of wrongness all of a sudden for no reason? Like you know the place is really nice and the people living there are ok but there’s just something about the place that gives you the heebe-jeebees? That is what I mean with atmosphere. Sometimes it is caused by several people around you, sometimes the weather, a scent, a certain colour… it could be anything that will throw you off completely and make you ill at ease. Avoid these places best as you can. No alteration in that area will probably ever change the feeling you get when you enter it. It’s just something that does not resound with your level of being, and there’s no point fighting it.

Yourself.

This is of course always the main cause for unrest. If you are not at peace with yourself, you can’t find peace. It often results in sleepless tossing and turning at night, a constant feeling of exhaustion, too many thoughts in your head not able to escape or be fully processed. Finding peace with yourself is probably the most difficult thing you can have a go at, because it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are with, you can’t change what goes on inside your brain. Reminding yourself of good things is always a safe place to go. Thinking about things you enjoy, people you love, experiences you’ve revelled in. Or just reminding yourself of your own good sides and strengths. I will also stick to that if you focus enough on your breathing, something is bound to happen eventually. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to enjoy the silence of your own mind.

What makes you feel peaceful? What bothers you like nothing else? Where do you go in your head to calm your nerves?

The Challengers of the Unknown

To some of you, this title might ring a bell about a group of comic “super-heroes”. I personally never heard of the Challengers until I googled the name just now to try and find the song “Challengers” by the New Pornographers, which is an absolutely wonderful song and it’s really been affecting me of late. Give it a listen!

I’ve been in a rather curious mood and disposition of late. It makes me think a lot, which is good because the more I think the less I talk, and I can talk a whole lot at times (No like seriously, it’s really annoying, sometimes even I want to punch me). Right now I’m thinking about adventures, new beginnings, growth… so this post, if you haven’t guessed it, is just about that.

“The Quest”

If you think about it, a “quest” is probably one of the widest terms there is. It could be going down the street to get coffee, or making sure you sneak into the house at 3am without waking anyone, or driving on your way to propose to who you hope will someday be your wife. The point with the quest though is there’s always three parts to it; the initiative, the search and the answer. “I want coffee. If I walk down the street, I hope to find some. Got some”. The quest requires drive and determination not to simmer out and become a failure. The quest doesn’t always involve physical exertion like a journey, it can also be a mental and intellectual quest, like that of the Philosophers Stone (not the Harry Potter book… but that stone thingy that was in the book). A good quest always has a bit of drama or a hiccup along the way of some sort; you got some gravel in your shoe on your way to the coffee-shop, the neighbours dog started barking when you entered the house, you’re so distracted by the fact that you are going to ask a life-changing question to this woman that you run a red light etc. But a quest that goes smoothly without a single bump in the road is simply… not a proper quest. I mean just check the story-books! Things always went wrong before they were set right again! Is it possibly this way in life too?

Growth.

Ooooh! First off on the note of grow, it reminds me of my friend Sarah‘s blog, which is really super-awesome. She’s the one who inspired me to actually start writing, because her blog is just that awesome. Check it out here. (That is a link to an awesome little artsy project she started, you can follow the results in her later posts). And I don’t know if it’s just me personally being weird but whenever I hear the word “grow” I get a picture of this generic-looking tree seedling sprouting from the dark earth, like this;

Whoa, except for like, a smaller picture. Anyways. I like the concept of growth. Once upon a time when I was a princess of a small country my Latin saying was “Vivo, Cresco, Floreo” which means, “I live, I grow, I burst into flower”. Sort-of-ish. And you know, without growth you will never get anywhere. One of the laws of thermodynamics is that every system, from the moment it is invented, starts its fall into decay. But what is necessary for a world like this to function if everything goes sour from the moment it’s even thought of? Growth. People developing themselves, developing technology, developing theories… every time a system dies, just grow a new one. Because as we have all seen, when you have an old and dying system and just keep patching it up instead of replacing it, things go horribly wrong eventually. And finally to quote Barney Stinson… “New is always better”.

The start of something…

New is always better. No. That is not true. But new is always different, exciting, upsetting, makes you think and see differently. Several years ago I came up with a little motto that I have held close to my heart since; “When you run away from your problems you only get new ones. But at least they’re new”. And that is the thing. Even if a situation is bad, at least it is a change in your life, and change helps you learn and develop and whatever horrible thing might have happened to you will help you in the future. New is generally always scary, because we’re unsure of how to act or what to think, and as humans we like being sure and safe. But new stands for youth, vibrant, shiny, glowing, alive. I like new! It can above all things be horribly sad, because for new to exist old has to go away. And letting go of something you’ve known and taken for granted in your existence for a long time can be extremely painful and almost traumatic for a person. But for me, even that pain is worth it, and it can be quite a magnificent thing. Isn’t that why a sunset is somewhat melancholic and nostalgic,  whereas the sunrise is and will always be a magical thing full of hope and strangeness? The end of something has to happen for the start of something new to be.

Of bad weather and how to make it good.

For 3 days now, St. John’s, NL – where I currently reside – has been covered in a thick layer of fog. To many people this has been depressing. Even to me on the third day. But sometimes fog can be the most wonderful thing. So can snow, rain, thunder… so this post, I dedicate to the good sides of bad weather.

 

Fog.

Fog can be very depressing, dreary, heavy, boring… or, you can think about how mystical and quiet it is. The first night of this 3-day fog I went out for a cigarette on my front porch at 3 in the morning. I had a large cup of jasmine-tea with me and as I sat down, I noticed that right across the road from where I live, a street light had captured the glimmering droplets on a tree in its glow, transforming it into a miracle of sparkles. On top of that, the fog surrounding the tree turned the light into solid beams. It literally looked like the tree itself was glowing. So I just sat there in the silence, enveloped by fog as it mixed with smoke and steam and watched this glorious sight right across the street. It was a very tranquil and magical moment. So next time you go “yuck, it’s all foggy out and my hair will get damp and…” just stop for a second and think about how calm and soothing everything gets when it’s covered in a thick blanket of fog.

Rain.

Ever since I was a kid, running out into a heavy shower of warm summer-rain was one of the best feelings in the world. Just standing there and freely allowing this natural shower to drench you instead of running and hiding under a roof as soon as there’s a chance of getting wet. There are so many different kinds of rain. There’s the “menacingly beating on the roof you really don’t want to go out side right now” kind of rain. The “softly falling around the house you probably want to take a nap” kind. Or the “I’m light and warm, why don’t you come outside and take a walk?” So many more different kinds. And just think about that wonderful fresh feeling in the air and earth when a heavy rain has just stopped falling, as if everything got washed and clean and all the tension has left the air. Last but not least, we mustn’t forget puddles. If you didn’t with glee run around and splash as hard as you could in the biggest of puddles at least once or twice as a kid, go get some rubber-boots right now and try it. Seriously.

Snow.

I don’t really think I need to say much about snow for people to think of the positive qualities of this weather. From those first tiny flakes that make you go “oh my god it’s snowing! it’s snowing!” to that heavy snowfall that shuts down schools and work, it can bring us joy in so many ways. Snowball fights, snowmen, snow-angels, snow-forts… or just that wonderful cozy moment in front of a fireplace/tv with a cup of hot beverage of choice when the snow is soundlessly covering your house and making you feel cuddled. Though my favorite snow moment is when you’re out walking and slowly this snowfall starts building up until they are gigantic fluffy flakes that cover your clothes and the world around you as they in a slow and stately manner float towards the ground. Just that sight, as the big flakes coat everything around them in such an un-intrusive way. I love it.

Wind.

When I was young, I used to think I could talk to the wind and it would understand me. (I still do sometimes but then I’m weird so…). I had made up this little language. And there was this one song that I would sing over and over as the wind crashed through the trees overhead;

  • Vaja nujubrava, of farand of rashag of ess. (travel great wind, over land and sea and search)
  • Ess ogonom em limonogo, lefa, lekara, leijong. (search for the voice of the water, air, fire and stone)
  • Vaja nujubrava, of farand of rashag of ess. (travel great wind, over land and sea and search)

Yes, I was only 8, and yes I was a weird kid. Anyways, I always had this special relationship to the wind, like we were friends or something. And when it blew in different ways it would mean different things. Winds are playful, they can be mighty and destructive or gentle and sweet. Kind of like a 5-year-old with a lot more power than any 5-year-old should have. But next time the wind blows, think about the way it feels and sounds, and what it might mean.

Thunder and Lightning.

I saved this for last. Because as much as I love the above mentioned weathers, this one… is just so awesome! Mighty crashing, booming sounds on top of blinding flashes of light! How can anything be more awe-inspiring, and make you feel as insignificant yet great, as lightning? I remember well many summers when I would run outside as soon as I heard that distant rumble, to catch it at its peak and feel it roaring around me, through the grass under my feet. My parents would yell at me to come back inside. I was never scared, only fascinated and overjoyed. The chances of getting struck are after all not that super big, unless you’re standing in the middle of a field with a copper-rod on your head.  But the sensation of all that deep wave of sound rolling over and into you after flash upon flash of lightning… it can’t be matched by anything else.