Waves2You

Glimpses of places and people, trees and textiles found while traveling from May to December 2013. Coming your way in small wavelets from time to time.

Month: July, 2013

Bright and Beautiful

lupin lines the roads with its peppery scent

lupin lines the roads with its peppery scent

After Berlin, Sweden felt green and light.  Nature was all around and the contrast felt good.  At first I woke up about 4 a.m. thinking it must be past 8.  Sitting in our friends’ living room at that time of day, the light on their beautiful glass, the grey-blue colored walls and the old floors and soft textiles were calm and gentle.  I have pages of notes on ‘what to change when  I get home’ .

A traditional fence

A traditional fence

with Lasse and Catarina in the sun at the summer house

with Lasse and Catarina in the sun at the summer house

During our two weeks, I sometimes thought, can these friends’ homes be more charming? Can the landscapes be more pleasing? Could these warm friendships be more fun?  I don’t think it’s possible!  Can less sleep be balanced by more vitamin D from the sun?  I hope so.

a medieval door handle--iron work is still part of Swedish style

a medieval door handle–iron work is still part of Swedish style

these summer houses are so, so wonderful.

these summer houses are so, so wonderful.

It was so bright. Not just the long, long days and extended twilight, but also the candles, the soft colors and the light step daily life has among our friends there.  It’s quiet; yet also full of good energy.

with Bengt Ake at the Vaxjo farmers' market

with Bengt Ake at the Vaxjo farmers’ market

dancing with Catarina who knows all the songs and dances!

dancing with Catarina who knows all the songs and dances!

We were treated to stays in summer houses, visits to a museum for two famous glass artists, historical churches, a linen factory revived by a young couple who recovered old looms and now make new patterns in an old tradition.  We were guests at family dinners and mid-sommar festivities.

mid-sommar with young people; such fun!

mid-sommar with young people; such fun!

There were atmospheric places like medieval farm houses and a seriously dark and looming old blast furnace for smelting iron.  We took forest walks with almond scented linnea borealis and deep moss.  We enjoyed lakes like ones at home, and a few new birds. A friendly wagtail visited whenever I picked lettuce in the garden.

a door with a wave in it.  the old farmsteads were beautiful.

a door with a wave in it. the old farmsteads were beautiful.

So, these are a few images to catch the feel of our Camelot-in-Sweden [it only rained at night!] fun.  We were only in Stockholm one day, visiting My who told us about her teaching tasks.  She works with immigrant children who speak many languages and for whom the bucolic life we enjoyed is a long way away.

We got to taste the best of summer there; such good fortune and such wonderful friends!

My, Malva and me on the water in Stockholm.

My, Malva and me on the water in Stockholm.

Reading Graffiti in Berlin

Arriving by train from Paris, the graffiti starts early on the walls along the tracks leading into Berlin.  And it builds and overlaps and shouts out.  Then you discover when you leave the station that it is nearly everywhere and at first a U.S. mind thinks of gang tags and turf battles.  But, soon the graffiti is not scary at all. The letters merge, codes mystify, colors blend; the walls in Berlin twitter and tweet in a way I came to enjoy, especially where we were staying in east Berlin near the former wall.  

Here is a photo of the little shop where  Franziska directed me to pick up the key to her flat which we were renting through http://www.airbnb.  That first evening it was all new and strange–the graffiti especially–but by the end of our 10 day stay, this small store on Oderbergerstrasse was part of our cosy and friendly home space.

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So, if Paris is for lovers, Berlin is for readers.  First trying to decipher graffiti, and next finding columns, kiosks and exhibits at strategic places in the city where people gather: Brandenberg Gate, the Reichstag, near the Berliner Dom, on Bernauerstrasse.  
The photos and writing beckon in both German and English.  Berlin very consciously tells its story of the Nazi era and the years of the wall without editorializing.  Facts and more facts are yours for the reading.

A project called “Lost Diversity” has columns with portraits of people and their stories.  Each photo and narrative tells the story of an individual lost under Hitler.  So as you wander the city and read and wander and read, the impressions these people make on you fill your head and by the end of the day, it is pretty overwhelming.  It’s the same when you visit memorials at the site of the former wall on Bernauerstrasse where the stories of families who fled, who died trying, and who dug tunnels to escape are all documented on the walls or in plaques in the sidewalks, and over time, in your mind.

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A third sort of language you cannot escape in Berlin is the slow motion of cranes.  No, not birds this time, but machines. If their metal arms were drawing lines in the sky, they would make interesting patterns.  What they convey in their vast numbers and noise and work is that Berlin is constantly renovating and redefining itself.

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There was so much to take in and enjoy in Berlin! Museum island with all its wonderful collections–enormous gates from antiquity, small collections of Egyptian treasures, glowing carpets, and a woman on a horse! The cafe in the Bogen at the top of the marble staircase was a restful stop on a very full day.  I also liked touring the new dome on the Reichstag building.  You have to reserve a time to visit and security is tight, but it’s all worth it for the views of the city and the explanations. More than ever before I accepted audio guides when they were offered, and I was glad that I did.  Especially, for example, at the Museum of Resistance which is so full of words; so much about the vast array of people who were trying very hard to rid Germany of Hitler.  And the lovely Berggruen museum.  Not to be missed!  It is such a nice size and its small rooms hold works by Paul Klee, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.

Lest you think Berlin is all work and no play, there are great parks and riverside cafes to enjoy too as well as the wonderful Thai restaurant called Sarod’s in Kreuzberg, fantastic cake and coffee at places like Ana Blumen, the Oberquelle restaurant in our own neighborhood, Prenzlauerburg–even the cosy beer and currywurst spot Greg found under a railway bridge!. Berlin let me dust off my German and use it when I could–though I read almost everything in English.  I learned about so many people from Helene Weigel, Bertolt Brecht’s multi-talented wife, to Kathe Kollwitz and her art. And, especially, I learned from the many portraits in the “Lost Diversity” exhibits. I came to enjoy graffiti in all its colors and patterns too.  

Do visit Berlin!  It chronicles many losses, but today, in 2013, it is so full of life–there are so many young people, babies, travelers and, Berliners!  To close, here are a couple of works by Paul Klee from the Berggruen museum that make me think he would enjoy today’s graffiti in Berlin too.

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