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The random ramblings of a straying mind

And if the Creationists believe they have it right, then I believe the moon is really made of cheese and its dark side visited by aliens who park their warp engine space crafts by a pyramid made of marzipan.

They go and play bingo in a hall where angle dust rains down on tables made of rhubarb, while giant centipedes wait on the alien crowds.

Ja!

And if that’s not true, it’s too late to ask Neil Armstrong what he thinks about it all.

Oh god, it’s full moon again!

Rest in peace, Neil.

Watching the full moon rise over the Warburger Boerde, Germany
Watching the full moon rise over the Warburger Boerde, Germany.

 

 

Life’s random – or maybe not

Some people think that life’s random.

It certainly appears that way at times.

There are others, the Creationists, that have the believe and faith that what happens is all part of the bigger plan, still part of the creation and beyond. The same people also believe that the world is roughly 6000 years old and that Darwin is a bit of a twit who had it all wrong.

There’s the rational group that thinks that the enlightenment period surely was the beginning of rational answers and that randomness would eventually be explained by the more understandable processes of cause and effect.

There’s the chaos theorists who say that life might appear random but that it’s really not. That all is guided and made by distinctive patterns that are often covert, but also distinct.

For this group, an equilibrium is the expression of the highest state of disorder.

Although emotionally and semantically I disagree, I can see their point.

To me an equilibrium signifies a state of balance and relative calm.

A chaos theorist would have it that all chaos has gone before the equilibrium and that the equilibrium is the final expression of the process of disorder.

Apparently all and sundry can be explained by this theory. Economics, population growth, the fall of nations, how termites live their daily life.

At times I also think that life seems pretty random. How did I arrive where I am now?

People are quite a predictable species though.

We like to think of ourselves as being interesting (and we are) and that we really enjoy change and variety (and we do). But underneath it all, we are very much reliant on routines.

Not much different to what one sees in the animal kingdom.

Many people rarely change their breakfast – sometimes for years.

When I first arrived here (in our new flat) I thought that what was going on around me was also pretty random.

A bird sings here, a pig grunts there, a sheep has something to bleat about at unpredictable times of the day.

But I’m starting to notice the emergence of distinctive patterns.

Ok, the sun rises every day (nothing new, and thankfully so).

But at dawn and sunrise something predictable happens underneath all the noise of the waking world.

Certain animals make predictable noises.

There’s the rooster (no need to write what he does). Than there’s the other birds…tweet tweet…enough said.

And then there’s this pigeon.

It likes a certain tree and has a very monotonous call that is a bit like chinese water torture.

It starts out subtly, and then just goes on.

For weeks and weeks and weeks. Everyday, at a certain time, it calls it’s monotonous call. Then it stops. Suddenly.

The next morning it starts again.

Not only that, but it has a favourite tree that it loves to sit on while it coos.

Might be the view, or it might be the highest point around. Perhaps its position on the tree is reflective of its status amongst its pigeon peers (I hear some birds are quite hierarchical).

Not sure, but the bird certainly is predictable and seems to love the pattern and repeatability of its life.

I’m getting to like this rather ‚boring‘ pigeon. Life looks pretty easy for this bird.

Maybe there are still lessons to be learned from the critters around us that sort of get lost when one assimilates into the bigger cities.

Anyway, enough of my personal low level and random philosophising…here’s the pigeon:

A pigeon stits on its favourite tree during sunrise in the Muensterland, Germany
My first ever pigeon portrait.

 

 

Life’s a journey

At times my wonderful travel guide seems apprehensive about my happiness in my newly adopted old home country.

She’s worried that after a quarter of a century in a place as beautiful as New Zealand I might feel out of sorts, disconnected or amiss being back in Germany.

Quite the opposite is true.

The Germany I’m getting to know is fun, interesting and very livable.

I’ve met nice people, feel connected to my surroundings, enjoy a sense of belonging and appreciate the history and culture of this country.

As a bonus I don’t feel like an immigrant on a daily basis.

No one comments on my funny accent or asks me where I’m from.

I don’t even get to watch the ‚Python’s‘ goose stepping performance, which I’ve seen delivered to me in New Zealand by many friends, acquaintances and strangers.

In New Zealand – after being there for half my life – people still ask „Interesting accent, where’ya from? Traveling around?“.

People are showing interest I guess and that is nice.

But to answer the same questions for so many years is rather confusing and tedious at times.

I have been guessed to be swedish, dutch, south african, polish and even irish (come on you guys, where’s your region and accent awareness – me? irish?)

My standard reply these days is  „Life’s a journey, mate.“ alternated with „We’re all from somewhere, bro.“ .

But these avoidance answers are not needed here.

After all this time I still belong.

I’m not sure what will happen, where I’ll be or how I’ll feel.

Good or bad, one thing’s certain, it’ll all be an adventure.

That is one of the wonderful things about this trip.

And at the end of the journey – in good old Kiwi fashion – she’ll be right, mate.

Sweating the small stuff

I’m guilty at times of not following the above headline.

As photographers the images we create are often informed by photographic history.

We don’t work in isolation and, being passionate about what we do, we make ourselves aware of what others have done before us.

In landscape photography the name that often pops up, a man who is still one of the most recognisable identities in the tradition of western photography, is Ansel Adams.

Ansel, in general, sweated the big stuff.

He is very famous for his studied black & white landscape images of the american west.

The images and grandeur of Yosemite National Park in California, as captured by Adams, have become iconic and still inspire many photography students and accomplished photographers today.

In my own landscape work I don’t work in large format and I rarely work in black & white.

I’m influenced by Adams in that I tend to seek the bigger views. The open skies and magnificent vistas that New Zealand has to offer.

Now I am in northern Germany and the topographical layout of the land is very different to New Zealand.

Gentle rolling hills or flat lands are all around me. What views exist are mostly restricted by fields of sweet corn which are approaching two meters in height.

To find grand vistas requires that one grows into a giant, or carries a tall ladder, or fix a platform on the roof of a car (Adams again).

I’m neither a giant, don’t like to carry ladders through the landscape and also don’t own a car.

Hence I need to change what I see and again learn to notice the small things under my nose.

It’s all possible of course, and even though uncomfortable to start with a new challenge brings opportunities and it is fun.

Below are images of the small stuff.

A grass that grows in the Harz mountains of Germany.

The region is famous for its hardy stock.

The people are quiet and a grunt can mean many things depending on the pitch and context.

It’s the only region in Germany where no one mows their lawns, not even the local authorities. They apparently never have and according to local knowledge can’t understand why anyone would anyway. Why bother when the grass just grows straight back again.

Ok, I get this!!! But it’s a kind of logic that seems anathema to German thinking and somewhat skews my stereotypes.

So I have fallen in love with this region.

The plants in the Harz are also hardy. To survive in the cold and windy environment takes effort.

Accordingly many plants grow smaller than in other parts of Germany. Others cling to the ground and don’t much like to put their heads up.

But then there is always a surprise.

Grass grows amongst the pine tree forests that have established themselves in this environment.

It is very soft and delicate, and spreads in carpets anchored on moss.

Listening to the locals there is nothing better than to spend the afternoon in the occasional sunshine, frolicking with your loved one on one of the grass carpets and to………ok……..we have to stop here, this is a ‚G‘ rated show.

To finish…sometimes to sweat the small stuff is really worth the effort.

The locals agree.

Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany

Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany
Carpets of grass cover the forest floor in the Harz mountains of Germany.

 

 

The Magical Forest

Some forests are different.

To step into them is to be suspended in time.

These are the magical forests.

They breath, they watch, they collect stories and somehow store history which they share with who is willing to listen and watch.

They aren’t without time, but the one used is more organic than human time.

Here the mechanical movement of hands on the clock face is irrelevant.

The scale by which time is measured is the progression of light.

No hour is quite like the one before or the one following.

Time here is physical, a flowing around and teasing of the senses.

No tangible ticking or linear path.

There is purity in these forests that does not exist elsewhere.

In centuries of existence the changes are constant.

They are determined by the light.

An ancient forest in Billerbeck as seen during the evening light in the Muensterland, Germany
An ancient forest in Billerbeck as seen during the evening light in the Muensterland, Germany.

 

 

7 billion – and counting

Ok, I get it now. The world will end. It’s official. The Mayans were right.

Don’t worry about food shortages, stranded whales, peak oil, funny weather or rising sea levels. It’s simple, and it’s not the economy.

With the added human weight Earth is getting podgy. The extra mass will increase gravitational pull between the Sun and Earth. 12 Dec 2012 marks pivot point, with Earth getting sucked out of orbit. Curtains…good night…sayonara…auf wiedersehen…good bye and good luck.

Just kidding. It’s the economy. Enjoy your weekend.

7 billion? I’m outta here.