Juicy Blooms Radiate

I followed a prompt this morning and got lost in our garden. Lost in the brilliance of opportunity that spring still gives us. I will be going on a little trip soon–I hope the apple blossom on our beautiful old apple tree will wait for me. If not, at least I got to hang with the buds.

I wish you all a wonderful week. And see you soon!

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This old apple tree is so, so beautiful–in bloom or not.
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Dancing With Dust And Talking To A Dead Tree

Good morning, everyone! Another Weekly Photo Challenge from The Daily Post. Woohoo! Who is excited? I have seriously been full of excitement and anticipation. After looking up the definition of evanescent, I came to think of this tree in one of our forests. I got my images, and then ended up inspired on my way home and shot even more photos.

First, let me introduce you to Old Birch.

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This tree seems to be veiled in somewhat of a mystery. It may be a little obscure due to my editing choices, but the tree is actually dead. And it has been dead for quite some time. Decades? Who knows. I asked my partner what killed it and he says nobody knows. I asked when it died–nobody knows. One guess is a storm did it. Another, a disease. But it’s the only tree that is dead, so one would think a disease would have affected the trees around it. Come to think of it–the rest of the forest appears to be keeping its distance.

Regardless of this birch being dead it still stands. Over the years, my partner’s father has wanted to cut it down, since every time there has been a storm, branches come crashing to the ground, right across our road. Well, all the branches are gone now. And my partner has forbidden its destruction. It sits in a part of a forest that he wants to preserve as is. And, hey, if this tree has withstood storms when healthy ones around it have met their demise–that calls for some admiration. Or just fascination.

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How can a dead tree be worthy of so much attention, though? If you ask my partner, he will tell you he likes to look at it.

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It is definitely eye-catching, don’t you think? Look at all that fungus! (Tinder fungus–hoof fungus?)

My partner offered another theory, on how long ago it died. Since no one really seems to even know when, perhaps it wasn’t long ago at all. Once it died, though–that was when they noticed. Before that it was just another tree in a forest of hundreds upon hundreds. There is a saying, that you can’t see the forest for all the trees. Here it’s the other way around. They couldn’t see the tree for all the forest. Um. It sounded better in my head.

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After leaving Old Birch and walking home, I started second-guessing myself. How do I present a dead tree as evanescent? A protected tree, nonetheless. It isn’t going anywhere. I looked out over the fields, dust danced around my shoes in the sunset, and… Yes. I have it. Thank you, Old Birch.

I set up my tripod again and started dancing with the dust. Lilli and my partner should have seen me–they would have thought I had lost my mind. In their eyes I am reserved and calm, not one to exclaim emotion. Except for when I stub my toe or bang my knee. I curse, then I laugh.

My thoughts, then, on evanescent is this: However fleeting or fragile anything is, it can live on in our memories. And this is only one of the things I love so much about photography. We can capture a moment that might never, ever occur again–at least not exactly the same way–and immortallise it. Today, I immortallised myself realising it’s fun spinning around in the dust and watching it billow and dissipate in the wind. When inspiration strikes, of course, and after talking to a dead tree.

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The Weekly Photo Challenge

Good morning, everyone!

Yesterday I checked out The Weekly Photo Challenge on The Daily Post, and Heritage instantly jumped out at me. With all the swooning I have done lately over UNESCO World Heritage sites, I guess the word heritage floats through my brain–times a million. As you no doubt noticed, this is not about my usual fawning over nature and the wild, though.

Living on a farm that has been passed down in the family through generations, and last year we had our three hundred year anniversary, I decided I wanted to do the photo challenge here. Our home. My safe haven. I had no idea what would be the focus, but I had a few days to think it over.

So I got into the kitchen this morning, started the usual routine of making coffee, totally muddled from four hours of sleep. As I looked out the window, the sunrise playing with the shadows of an old birch tree, my heart jumped. Yes! Yes yes yes. Gorgeous. I literally ran through the house to get my camera gear. I couldn’t let this moment pass, I couldn’t let the sun climb higher and lose out on this light. It didn’t even ocurr to me that I have no bloody clue how to capture it, how to use the manual settings. And Lilli still hadn’t come downstairs–turns out her alarm bell had run out of batteries. She made it to school in time, though. I had her porridge on the table before I dashed out the door.

I have no magnificent composition of words to offer, and my amateur level in photography is what it is. So what heritage means to me? I will let the results speak for themselves. I had a great time climbing around on the tractor, and this was a fun and inspirational way to jump-start a sleep-rumpled mind. I wish you all lovely day!

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This beauty is a Massey Ferguson from either 1968 or -69.
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I asked my partner if the tractor is a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. He said it’s an ‘it’. Well, I want to call her Fergie. And Fergie sure is a faithful and robust worker here, still, after all these years.

Healing, Soothing Sunshine

When I went to bed last night I basically ordered myself to stay in bed today. Time to get better, time to let my body recuperate. Morning came… and I tried. I really, honestly did. How could I stay in bed though when every single nerve ending was jittery with energy? Isn’t that a strange feeling? Have you experienced that? You know you’re sick, you feel it in your nose, in your throat, in your chest and joints. Yet, somehow, you are on your way out the door and into glorious sunshine.

And it didn’t end there. I raked one-quarter of the yard (which, granted, took me a few hours, because it’s a huge yard), cleaning up leaves left from autumn and a ridiculous amount of Loke’s poop.

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I stepped in it! (Who wants to show off dog poop, right? Well, me.)

I went outside an hour before lunch time, and then again just past 3 p.m., after taking my daughter to a friend’s place. I stayed there until I was done with my quarter. Almost till 6 p.m. Madness, right? My nose was running the entire time, but crazy as it seems, I feel so much better. All that fresh air, probably hundreds of sweeping movements with that rake, and a little play time with Loke in the pile I gathered–was the best medicine.

My guess is I will sleep like a log tonight. But first–more photos. I wish you all a lovely day (or evening/morning, depending on where in the world you are).

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I kept getting weird grid marks when I edited, so after playing around with all kinds of settings, I got myself an oil painting. It looks pretty neat.
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When I reached down to gather two armfuls of leaves Loke looked so hopeful that I couldn’t resist. I ended up spreading it out pretty nicely and had to rake it back in again, but Loke loved it.

 

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And the leaves loved my jumper. So do I. (Later this evening my daughter found leaves in my hair. Whoops?)

 

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Lots and lots of thank you kisses from an overjoyed dog.
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And that’s it. See you tomorrow, beautiful gardening gloves, you.

Among Fields And Smiling Finns

Yet another weekend has passed and we are gearing up for another week. A busy week. For farmers there is no such thing as weekend, though, and Nine-To-Five doesn’t exist. The field work has commenced so we are looking at a very full-specked stretch ahead of us. For now, though, may tractors, their drivers and the harrowed fields rest for a few hours before it’s time to go again. Unless that rain we’ve been promised comes pattering down.

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Looking out earlier as my partner’s father was out there, I remembered how after sowing birds come flocking. And I’m not talking a few–literally tons. Okay, maybe not tons, but a lot. Seagulls. We don’t really see them around, and in spite of being in the Land Of A Thousand Lakes, we do not have any major ones closeby. But that doesn’t matter; once those seeds are in the ground those gulls somehow find their way here. This year I will be sure to have my camera ready!

Tonight, however, I am readying my camera for something else entirely. While thinking ahead of the week to come, and what opportunities to grab to practice my photography, it suddenly hit me. Sammallahdenmäki (Moss Cove Hill). All the years I have lived here and I have completely forgotten we have a prehistoric archeological World Heritage site, practically in our local backwoods. It’s the perfect spot for light hiking and an afternoon picnic with my daughter. So once that sun peeks out again, we are off on a little adventure.

What about you? What does your week look like?

I will leave you with a photograph I played around with of my special guy–he came back from parking the tractors for the night as I was trying to catch the sunset. For now, I wish you all a wonderful Sunday evening and a great week.

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I call it “The Smiling Finn” – a rare but oh-so-charming sight to behold.

Re-channel Focus And Gain Inspiration

In my last post I wrote about perception and about getting distance in order to gain insight and appreciation for what you do, in fact, have. In light of that and the odd sense of emptiness that can come after you feel you have accomplished something you set out to do, I am going to focus on my life today in this post.

After I published Shaped By Thousands Of Years I thought “Okay, which adventure do I go for next?” I browsed some photos, visited some blogs and sites, and didn’t really do much else that evening. Although I did get rather excited when someone tweeted my post on Twitter, then freaked out because, well, I wanted to thank the person and I get anxious when I get eager. But I won’t go into that now. The next morning after Loke’s morning round, I took a big cup of coffee and sat down in the home office to look at my Google Calendar (which was a suggested goal to set up that I snatched off Daily Post’s newbie blogger advice page).

As I sat there staring at my schedule I felt totally scatter-brained. Where do I even begin? What do I do? I had my instructions right in front of me, all the photos picked out for several posts, a journal full of material and inspiration from the past two years, but it didn’t matter. I was simply stuck. And thoroughly bummed out because I couldn’t find the cable for my DSLR to transfer some photos from last winter. I had to have what I didn’t have. Typical.

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But I got the winter tyres changed, so cheers!

Glancing at my journal now for that day, I see a lone word on one line shouting at me in All-Caps: FAIL. The lines that follow consist of me writing myself back to sanity, focus and reality. And before I went to bed that night, after admitting it’s all right that I didn’t get any work done on my blog, I wrote myself a goal for the following morning. I would get my butt out of bed one hour early, before the rest of the clan, and take Loke and my camera outside, get a bunch of photos, but also enjoy the moment for what it is.

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Despite a crisp couple of degrees above zero it was a gorgeous morning; we stayed in the early hour sunshine for almost an hour before I went back inside to make some coffee. (I do love my coffee, a little too much, perhaps.) Later that day I went into Rauma, a very charming town that I will have to show you at some point. Old Rauma specifically, which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While in town I got myself a replacement cable and later that evening I found the old one. I laughed. You think you have looked everywhere and then you haven’t. Either way I could finally get my photos transferred, plus the ones I took yesterday morning.

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Loke hears rustling in the grass. A field mouse?

And yesterday evening I went outside to take more photos, because I was so excited about my remote shutter that I have been wanting to get for ages.

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Getting outside and staying there with my best buddy and my camera got me some of that distance I needed to rechannel my focus and gain inspiration. So once again this morning I went outside, but a little further. Down to the river that runs at the edge of our fields to the (I think) west. I have been there before but that was almost three years ago, when I was juggling studies, thirty-hour work weeks, and taking care of a huge house while keeping myself together in-between therapy sessions to treat my social phobia, panic disorder, PTSD. Now I came in search of the tranquility I remember finding there, and found it. That and so much more.

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One hour and a few dozen photos later, Loke and I wandered through the forest and walked home. On our way up the back road I stopped to take some more photos but eventually made it home. I got my customary cup of coffee and went a little crazy with the edits, thus the wild colors. I have no idea what I am doing but there is so much cool stuff you can do with RAW format. I love it.

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The field work is about to commence and soon I’ll get to spend my afternoons here, bouncing around in the seat of an old tractor.

Even though I am no longer in a work place, nor in school with times to keep and assignment deadlines to meet, I have plenty of things that fill up my day. And all the opportunities in the world, I just have to reach out and take them. Most days I believe it, most days I reach for it, but some days are more challenging than others when it comes to staying focused and sticking to my goals. We tend to reach for more and much further than what we can possibly achieve in one moment, let alone a day or a year. I wrote in my journal two years ago that all the things that last take time. I’m not sure what I meant by that at the time; judging by some other things I wrote in that entry I get the feeling I was frustrated with myself because I kept failing at something (and possibly half asleep because some sentences truly don’t make sense). But looking at it now, I see something that means sustainable results come after continuous effort has been made, again and again, over a greater period of time. Like me finally finishing my eligibility for university studies, at the age of 36. After years of trying and failing because I gave up and didn’t stick with it. But this time I did, by not accepting that voice that told me I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t clever enough, I wasn’t good enough. Instead of convincing myself I can’t do this I kept telling myself I can do this. I will do this.

So today I want to tell you that it feels so damn good to stand at the edge of these fields and remember how hard I worked to get here. Right here. I made it. And I am home.

An Idea Takes Shape

I was looking out the window a couple days ago–blue skies, spring birds chirping, glorious sunshine–and missed my home town with a vengeance. Even more so I wanted to get in my car and drive out into the magnificence of the High Coast, attempt the second stage of the High Coast Trail. I thought about how spoiled I became during the two years I lived and studied in Härnösand, Sweden (one of the many places of my childhood), having the World Heritage of the High Coast in my backyard.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I can’t say I don’t live close to nature, now. My partner is a farmer and we have acres upon acres of fields and forest. I have but to step outside the door and walk in any direction to get my fix. But strolling through rural farmlands and forests is not the same as braving the wilderness. Flat pastures can’t compare to the steep rise and fall of forest covered slopes, and even though a softly curving hill filled with swaying wheat and barley is beautiful, it isn’t as magnificent as standing on top of a mountain to be awed by the vast ranges and realise how small we truly are. Yet we accomplish great things.

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So there I was with the pull in my chest, wanting so badly to go hiking, but then I got an idea. I may not be able to go trekking right now, not physically, but I have quite a lot of photos from my various adventures, and I am finally blogging, so why not combine the two and write about it? There are too many photos and thoughts to share to fit into one post, so to further my idea I decided that I would make a series–a blog series. Spread it out over a few posts. And I will call it My Love For The High Coast. Great!

To honor One Step At A Time I will set the goal to not get carried away with plans and structure. I know myself well enough to understand that the bigger the project the further it stretches out before me and the higher the chance becomes of me drowning in my still-lacking time management and organisational skills. But bit by bit is how we learn. And that is my motivation.

This is the beginning, then; the first stage and the introduction to a hike back in time. A trek through the past two years. Some adventures were smaller, shorter, and some bigger, longer. But they all meant the world to me.

I will begin with a long one, a hike that took me and my trekking companion, Loke–my beloved dog–nine whole hours (and perhaps even more) to complete. But–that is another post. Until then…

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“Hiking, you say? Nine hours, you say? At least you had boots for the occasion! Nutcase.” – Loke, 1 year old and ever eager to explore.

Drawing For The Soul

For as long as I can remember, drawing has been one of the few things I truly love. And something I can lose myself in when I’m down or simply need a time-out. Sadly, like writing, it has become a rare indulgement in later years. Despite my professed love for the craft, I just haven’t had that feeling. I have tried and failed nine times out of ten, and ended up staring at a blank page…

But then my daughter asked me this morning: “Mom? Can I get on the playstation?” Reluctant to agree–if she’s not on the iPad, she’s on her phone–I remembered how she has been asking for weeks if we could draw together. She truly loves drawing, too, and is so great at it. So instead I countered with, “How about we sit down and draw together instead?”

“Yeah! I’ll go get my things!” And off she went, bounding up the stairs.

We sat for a good hour, if not two, and by the end of it she had drawn a portrait of me. One she was so proud of she asked me to send it to my mother in Sweden. I only got a few lines sketched out and filled in, but it was so nice to do something together. And drawing (or crafting) is something I did a lot with my own mother when I was little.

Hmm… What to do with these lines?

Said mother-daughter time over, and said child off to follow the next inspiration, I stayed and stared at my paper. It didn’t last long before I grabbed a coloring pencil and started filling, and now, an entire day gone–in-between cooking and cleaning and what-not–I have finished a drawing. A full A4. Woo. Go me. And go the child for her contagious enthusiasm.

More empty spaces to fill!

My daughter and I are both creative, we both love drawing and crafting, but the difference is she gets an idea, takes it, and puts it into action. Right then and there. No thought or consideration for the process, the colors needed, the theme–no windy road dotted with a million things that will make it the piece of art she sees in her mind. Isn’t it fascinating? We plan and we draw up a detailed map in our minds and get tangled in all the little things. (If my teacher and mentor read this, she’d roll her eyes and shake her head. Yes, I know, I guess I need a little more practice on taking it one step at a time. 😁)

One step at a time. One grain of sand at a time… (as I have read in Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living a fair few times by now). Some days it works, some days it doesn’t, and that is all right.

One step at a time.

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Finished!