Tilting the Axis

1.

My axis tilted

by a trip. Nineteen days

swallowing

impressions

whole,

or did I pick at them? Bits

and pieces

maybe…

 

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2.

 

Or not.

In any case,

I looked up.

 

3.

 

Down.

 

4.

 

Out.

 

5.

 

Across.

 

6.

 

And through, yes, I looked through a lot: through trees, screens, fences, windows, doors, glass cases, and

my camera. That one. A lot.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 

11.

 

There were willow trees, and poems.

 

12.

 

13.

 

14.

 

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15.

 

There were many coins,

there was not enough water.

 

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16.

 

17.

 

Plenty of good espresso though…

 

18.

 

Planes, trains

trams, buses, cars,

boats and feet –

I used them all,

inscribing a ragged northern European circle:

Amsterdam,

Leiden, Rotterdam,

Ghent, Antwerp,

Lille,

Cologne, Frankfurt, Klein Reken, Hannover, Rahden, Lavelsloh,

Badhoevdorp, and Amsterdam again.

 

 

My brain

was chaos: too little

sleep, too many

sights, sounds, smells,

thoughts

and feelings swirling around in

a joyful stew.

 

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20.

 

How did I manage?

People. Friends,

relatives, and above all,

that one guy in

the center of it all, kept me

from blowing away.

 

21. Ben, Joe, Ule Rolff.

 

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22. Elke and Anette

 

23a. Almuth

 

23b. Jeanine

 

 

 

My axis tilted to the Old World,

nine hours ahead. A different time

and place,

layered with history,

awash in art, architecture,

fresh food, abundant conversation,

and in the lovely month of April,

flowers, buds, and birds.

(More of those later)

Then it was time to return to the New World.

 

24.

 

So here I am, slowly digesting

three weeks of impressions. More photos

will follow. Thank you

for being here.

***

 

A few notes on the photos:

  1. A White stork flies near its nest, in the German countryside. These huge, mythic creatures migrate between Africa and Europe, and forage in fields for all manner of meat: insects, mice, lizards, worms – whatever! They’re making a comeback now, after declining over the past several hundred years.
  2. Roof tiles on the street; old town, Leiden, Netherlands.
  3. Cologne (Koln), Germany.  Pollarded trees are much more common in Europe than in the US. Wikipedia says that pollarding, a method of pruning to keep trees to a manageable size and promote dense, leafy growth, is mentioned in an ancient Roman text.
  4. A floor mosaic at the MSK Museum (Museum Voor Schone Kunsten) in Ghent, Belgium.
  5. Somewhere over Greenland, strange land forms rose from the clouds.
  6. A neat row of trees in the German countryside. Long or short, rows of trees appear again and again in the countryside of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
  7. A textured glass door in a private home in Germany yields amorphous blobs of pure color.
  8. An old church in Hannover, Germany, viewed through a fine fuzz of new leaves.
  9. At the Wallraf-Richartz/Ludwig Museum in Cologne, excavation work being done next door is seen through a black, textured screen. A museum complex that will have a collection spanning two millennia and ruins of the Roman governor’s palace and a Jewish ritual bath, is underway.
  10. In Lille, France, an old brick building retains only its’ face; mute, empty windows frame the inner walls and the buildings beyond.
  11. Handsome doors in a century-old home in Leiden lead to a balcony overlooking over a canal.
  12. Also in Leiden, a willow tree hangs gracefully over one of many canals that meander through the city.
  13. The Wall Poems of Leiden project began in 1992. Written in a variety of languages, the poems number more than a hundred. It’s quite wonderful to come upon one unexpectedly…maybe this one especially. The photo shows a fragment of “The Hours Rise Up Putting Off Stars and It Is” by e.e.cummings.
  14. Another willow tree on a canal in Leiden.
  15. Strange story – this carved stone in Antwerp records a line from the old song, “There is a Tavern in the Town.” Why? Author Willem Elsschot (a pseudonym for Alphonsus Josephus de Ridder; 1882-1960) was a respected Belgian author whose last work incorporates the lyrics of the song. You can follow the story via quotes that are placed in various locations around the city. Called Het Dwaallicht, or Will-o’-the-wisp, the novella has been called, “A jewel in the treasure chest of Dutch language” (Kader Abdolah).
  16. A teacup and the previous day’s collection of Euro coins. That was early; by the end of the trip, they were weighing down our pockets.
  17. Detail from a still life at the Wallraf-Richartz/Ludwig Museum in Cologne. I like to have a bottle of water handy, and when it runs out, where do I fill it? Water fountains are rare. No one wants to give away water. If I want a glass of water in a restaurant, chances are I’ll pay for it, even if it comes from the tap. We became adept at filling our water bottles in restaurant the bathrooms (not so much the bathrooms of train stations, which cost a Euro to enter). It was disappointing when the sink was so tiny, the bottle couldn’t wedge under the faucet. Water may have been hard to come by, but great food was plentiful, even in the train stations.
  18. Espresso Perfetto in Cologne is a lively, popular cafe in the Italian tradition: your espresso is pulled, poured and served with great care; the little glass of sparkling water is there, the little chocolate too, and the people watching is very, very good. We observed one happy, rotund man come to the counter for tray after tray of delicious pastries to bring to his friends. There is a shiny array of high end espresso machines to peruse, and there are blankets for the outdoor seats, because Europeans aren’t going to let cold weather stop them from enjoying the freedom of a smoke. Or is it life parading by that’s the real draw?
  19. A collage of photos of transport arrangements, from feet to airplanes. In the Netherlands, our OV cards got us on trains, trams and buses, but they weren’t good in Belgium or Germany. No worry – navigating the systems wasn’t too difficult, especially with the help of English-speaking natives. In one train station, where student volunteers kept the line moving for the ticket and information desks, our volunteer was a Syrian native who spoke Arabic, Dutch, English, a bit of French and German. Put us to shame!
  20. A tangle of foliage at Hortus Botanicus, a botanical garden in Leiden. The oldest section dates back to 1590. The great Linnaeus spent time here!
  21. That special guy, flanked by dear friends in Germany. Click on Ule’s name to visit her website.
  22. Third cousins once removed? I’m not exactly sure, but Elke and Anette were great companions on a long afternoon spent delving into family history, by way of the beautifully kept old farmhouse and barn where my paternal grandmother grew up, a pretty village church that dates back to the 1600’s, family photos, stories, and – yum! – homemade plum kuchen and coffee.
  23. a. b. & c.  Three remarkable people. 23a is a blogging friend Almuth, who took us under her wing for a fabulous day in Hannover. Click on her name to visit her site. Jeanine hosted us in Leiden, with brilliant style. Click on Harrie’s name (23c) to visit his website – we enjoyed a great afternoon talking and walking with him. I also met Karl Ursus, and though the photo turned out very blurry, the conversation was clear as could be.
  24. A drawing by Walter Dahn at the Kestnergesellschaft, an art gallery in Hannover.

77 comments

    • That was exactly why we stayed there – the proximity to the airport – just two nights, before the return trip. It was quiet, the airbnb was exceptional, and getting into Amsterdam and to the airport, wasn’t bad. 🙂 Thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am glad to hear you start recovering from three weeks of so many impressions and I hope you sleep much better in between. Really a lot of interesting and exciting impressions and I am looking forward to the other stations of your journey seen by your eyes and through your lenses Lynn! Always a joy it is. I recognize picture Nr. 8 😉 By the way: I mad a similar photo of you 🙂 Have a good time and I hope you can enjoy spring at your home now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There she is, one of those remarkable people who made my trip such a pleasure. I was thinking you could tell me what church that was, but then I realized it’s not necessary to identify every landmark precisely, not for this. Spring is gorgeous here, and happily, though the blossoms had dropped off most of the cherry trees in Amsterdam, they are still hanging on here. We must be a little behind. And my daffodils greeted me! I thought I would miss them entirely. The highlight of the week was the new-to-me Calypso orchid, a diminutive woodland wildflower. (Calypso bulbosa), what a beauty! Soon I will get over to your blog, but now it’s time for a quick walk. Thanks for commenting so quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am happy to hear that Spring waited for your return 🙂 The orchids are beautiful! So tiny and nice. After some rain (it was very dry again) nature opened even the last leaves of the trees and outside there is green over and over and everythings smells good. In the evenings you can smell all the treeflowers! It is so lovely 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is almost too exciting. This intimate peek into the sights and impressions. Somehow, through some magic known only to you… you put me right there in that time and place. Thank you for the loving glimpses. I’ve done so much scrolling back and forth from pictures to texts and back and around again…. I can’t keep individual comments sorted. I suspect that I’ll return for at least another look, if not another and another. 😀

    I’m just thrilled the journey and adventure went so well. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great to know I was able to transport you a bit, Gunta. That’s the way to go sometimes – vicariously. 🙂 Yes, the scrolling…I didn’t want to interrupt the flow above, but I know it’s awkward. Next time I will probably go back to keeping text & photo together. I enjoyed catching yup with your own journeys…and thank you for the good wishes.

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  3. You found the trees! They are there to shade travellers and oxen and to provide fruit for the people, at no cost in land. It makes highways more efficient! You were going by foot, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I did! Sometime on foot, sometimes not, always the trees catch my interest. The giant sycamores in the cities – oh, amazing! Noble beasts. The rows along the fields, thank you for your comment about them. Beech tree forests! I wish I could have seen more, but it’s all good. I miss beech trees, I used to see them more back east. Deciduous trees in general were a treat in Germany. Oh and birch trees….in Essen, they mixed with blooming cherry trees to make a pale symphony, so en-lightening. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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    • I’m not a travel writer like you, Alison, but it’s a start. So many impressions….it’s overwhelming. And now, spring wildflowers are blooming here, so there’s an abundance of subjects to zero in on. We’re thinking about Ecuador – have you been? It’s tempting, but then many places are, aren’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we’ve been to Ecuador. Galapagos is a must! We weren’t all that impressed with Quito though I know others who loved it. Perhaps we were travel weary at the time. Seeing an Andean wolf after climbing Cotapaxi was special, and the Otavaleños and Cañaris are wonderful. I wouldn’t put Ecuador at the top of the list, but we’d spent weeks in Andean Peru and Bolivia before arriving in Ecuador so we were a bit done I think. Galapagos on the other hand should be at the top of everyone’s list.
        A.

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  4. Wonderful post – LOVE the stork!!! >>> know these from chimneys in Poland, and many come to Kenya in the northern winters. As always, your eye for a picture shines through. Special for me are 6; 10 but I would have filled the frame with the ruined building – just my opinion; 11 ohhhhh!!!!!!; 14; 20!!!; 23c. And I’m getting further and further into the Z 6, and feeling totally very good about it. Glad you had a good trip! A 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh the stork! What a treat that was – two, on a nest built on a platform left for them, on the edge of a farm not far from my paternal grandmother’s birthplace. We didn’t have any expectations of seeing them, it all came about spontaneously. And as you’d guess, that photo pleased me, as a non-bird photographer. 🙂 #6 was taken from a moving vehicle, glad you like it – I was taken by the rows of trees everywhere. And the pollarding, wow! So much of it! I have a few more of that ruined building, some without the background. 11, 14, 20 – so glad you like those, I do too. 23c is someone you know from the blogging world; I’ve written him to ask if it’s OK to include his name. His is a very photogenic face, too bad that one’s not more in focus but I still like it. So glad about your enthusiasm for the Z6. I do get vicarious pleasure from that! I will be over at your blog soon, but the backlog is overwhelming…

      Liked by 2 people

      • 23c gives permission to include his name… 😀 But one of the three remarkable people also sounds very good… Very nice post Lynn; hope you had a good time in Germany as well. Greetings for Joe; see you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • How could one not, Ken? Oh,I have a photo of a car for you. Actually two – an old Volvo and a Citroen that has a VW beetle look. I should just send them to you – who knows when I’ll figure out how to incorporate them into a post. I’m really pleased you singled out the glass – a door to a kitchen of a fellow blogger, whose home is full of gorgeous art, books and CD’s – heaven it was! And the other – you know I live seeing through screens so imagine my excitement when I saw that huge one. And the scene beyond it worked so well with the screen itself – everything built on right angles. I have more….
      thank you Ken! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to lately….

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    • Well that’s not a bad reaction! I guess it’s kind of like I felt. 😉 There were several wonderful horizons I photographed – one from the plane, where the blue sky slowly fades into the clouds. And some of fields, seen from moving vehicles. I have photographed minimalist horizons before, but now I think of you when I see a good one. I’ll post them one of these days….thank you!

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  5. What a blast! Scrolling through the images & words, a sampling of the fast impressions running through your brain, what a wealth of the natural, and the artistic, how wonderful. 🙂 And “There is a Tavern in the Town” is a surprise pop-up! we always sing that on car trips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so pleased that you appreciate the variety, Robert, thank you. When I looked into that carved text, it was a super internet wormhole if information – I bet you’d love it. The author it commemorates, and that particular work of his, sound very interesting. I didn’t find it in English online….

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  6. Such a wonderful walkabout. You see so much beauty in places other might not bother looking. I hesitate to pick favorites as that sounds like the others are wanting, which they are not. But I will. 🙂 Number 7 really appeals as does number 20. A fine visual travelogue, Lynn. So glad that you enjoyed your vacation so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a nice comment Steve, than you very much. #7 and #20 are so different on the face of it, but somehow, I think they share a kind of abstraction and swirling colorfulness. Yes, I got a lot out of it – and it will take a while to digest, but spring is springing with a vengeance, so I’m getting out on a daily basis, looking at the wildflowers and all the changes. Happily.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynn, among your latest posts this one stands out to me because we met while you and Joe had been in Hannover. It’s not only your way of taking pictures, it’s your way of blending words, pictures and thoughts that captures me. What a perfect and atmospheric report about your journey. It’s fascinating to see how you pay attention to some casual sights. I simply like it a lot! Regards, Karl

    Liked by 2 people

    • Karl, what a nice thing to say, especially coming from a journalist who knows his words and pictures! Thank you. You and I both pay attention to the “casual” as well as the obvious, we share that. It was a huge pleasure meeting you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s less the journalist speaking here but more the picture poet I tend to be. You are right, we have something in common while observing subjects. The light glow coming through the slightly opened window shutter is a good example. This picture tells a lot without showing much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s actually something I want to teach myself to do more – to imbue images with meaning and poetry. It can be very easy to be more clinical, or factual, but conveying the poetry is more satisfying, isn’t it?

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  8. Your opening photograph was such a freeing way to begin. I’m soaring right along. Then you ground me with the terra cotta roof tiles on the brick pavement (with a brick wall thrown in to make three examples of iron oxide, my favorite colorant). . . . In #6, besides liking the composition and color (of course), I like how the foreground is blurred by the motion (I presume) of your vehicle. . . . I like seeing the sharpness of the glass mixed with the blurriness of what is behind in #7. . . . As if the newly leafing tree and the Gothic building weren’t enough, the light brings #8 into the realm of enchantment. Symmetry works very well here. . . . Oh! I love #10 for too many reasons to enumerate. Here’s just one: the view of brickwork through a window in brickwork. . . . I appreciate your return to mundanity in #11, which really isn’t mundane at all with that light. . . . Your #17 could be a photograph by you. . . . Thank you for all, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for mentioning the stork – I was thrilled to have a bird photo turn out so well. It was so exciting to watch the pair of storks circling around their nest, on a platform put up just for them, by a farm in the German countryside. You’re right, I was in the car for #6, and if the object you focus on is the right distance away, it stays in focus while the rest is blurred. Lots of throw-aways with that technique though! 🙂 You would love all the art in the home with the glass door; it was inspiring. #10 has the kind of focus I associate with your work – often tack-sharp across the field. I learn from you, Linda! 🙂 And re #17 – it was fun to take pictures of small details in paintings. Thank you Linda!

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      • That’s funny: “tack-sharp across the field.” One of the things I frequently admire in your work is your narrow depth of field, with cool bokeh, which I don’t seem to be able to emulate, though I try.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Right, we each have our strengths! An out of focus background was one of the things I’d always wanted when I had point and shoot cameras, and it was such a thrill to finally get a camera that I could manually focus, for one thing, and then to get lenses that well, lend themselves to bokeh, that was heaven. But I also really appreciate a frame where everything is evenly in focus.

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  9. I passed by hoping you were still writing (long wordpress hiatus!) and what a wonderful post to come back to! It feels like the wind whisking around freely through the trees, I can feel all your movements through the places and your senses…thankyou for this!

    Liked by 1 person


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