Tag Archives: landscapes

The perfect winter’s day

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Finally. I’ve tried to keep my chin up, but we’ve really not had much of that winter wonderland-y stuff this year. I remember my childhood, when the first snow came in October. By the first of Advent, the woods had fallen that special kind of silent that is only possible when there’s a thick layer of snow over everything. So far, we haven’t had that, but only frosty mornings and slippery ice on the roads. I’ve hardly dared venture into the woods at all for fear of falling and breaking my neck.

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But today I got my fill of wonderland. I walked the same path I walked this summer, when the dewy grass swished against my calves and the sun didn’t set until half past eleven. The only thing that reminded me I was on the same planet as back then was the sky. It was pink and golden, just like it was six months ago. But what it shone down on was very different.

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In July it was all misty forest and leaves and flowers. Now it was the same forest, but with all the branches weighed down by snow.

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Crunching along in the tracks left behind by a skier with his dog, I felt alive again after a week or so of being completely wrung out, dish rag style. I believe they call it the postdoc blues…

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I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I got it. It’s such a big part of Christmas, of the big wheel that turns through the seasons: this period of rest, of sleeping seeds and muffled quiet, that reminds you why it’s called ‘the dead of winter’.

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Perhaps some wind in the trees, or the crunch of your own boots in the snow, but other than that – nothing. As if the world is waiting to be born again.

Which I guess it is.

The light returns

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The darkest, longest night of the year is past. Now we change course and move towards the sun again. Every day, the world will become a little brighter.

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It couldn’t come at a more fitting time for me. Last Friday, it was the day of my defense. In hindsight, I realize that I’ve been under more pressure about this than I thought – and I was aware of quite a lot of pressure! It feels as if for five years, I’ve slowly, excruciatingly rolled up in a tight ball, like a cramp or a Big Bang, and now that knot has loosened, the world has exploded into being, and I’m free. And at the same time, the sun returns. It’s almost too symbolic.

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I can’t believe it’s done – that it’s finally over. The longest project so far in my life, and it’s now finished. My road has been very stony, dark, and misty. I haven’t had a clue where I was going. It’s all been very confusing.

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But the defense went really well, I had a wonderful discussion with my examiner, my whole family was there to watch, my colleagues and friends and of course my husband. Instead of terror, I felt a cautious kind of joy. My work was accepted by the person I respect most – and whose model I used in my studies! Talk about coming full circle.

The party afterwards was wonderful, and I’m not as tired as I should be. I feel like a load of stones have fallen from my shoulders, and I can begin to straighten up again. And above all: I can now be an ordinary person again. I’m not a PhD student anymore. I’m a doctor. I’m done. There’s nothing more to prove. I can go about my business like everyone else and not have to reach for the stars. I can relax. I don’t have to know everything. I can let things be as vague as they are in the real world and not pretend to have an answer.

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Well, at least as long as I’m not talking to the media, but you know… :-/ I can move on! Maybe on one of these. 😉

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Freezing art

The things we do for love… of pretty pictures! I actually thought my big toes had broken in two before I finally came back home. Have you ever been that cold? Jack London’s To Build a Fire cold? It really makes you feel small – in the universe. Like there’s no shield between yourself and the dead of space. It doesn’t just feel uncomfortable, it feels dangerous.

But it does make for beautiful frosty images.

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I played around with some softer photos today – deliberately less focused to bring out the afterlight from the vanished sun. I don’t know why, but I like the result.

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It feels vaguely silver nitrate-y. Lord of the Rings-y. (Which I’m re-devouring at the moment, by the way. The coming week feels exactly like the scenes where Frodo and Sam have to cross the plains of Gorgoroth. But more on that later.)

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And behold the reason behind my deep frozen toes: the moon, that decided to rise at the exact moment when I should have turned homewards and curled up in the sofa with some glögg (mulled wine). But when you’re a lunatic, you’re a lunatic… 😉

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Later still, when the moon had risen so high I couldn’t fit it into the picture. But the light!

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Forests and streams

I think best when I’m on the move. Every time my husband and I go on a trip, we both get loads of ideas. Our outdoor musical about the fossegrim was born on a river boat. The idea for Cutting Edge came into being on a long-distance bus. Release was brainstormed during a walk in the woods, and almost all my actual writing takes place on forest paths like this one, with my phone in my hand and a dictation app running.

Forest path

Right now in semi-northern Sweden, trees are budding, but at a distance, they still look grey and drab. The mountains shift in shades of dark blue and smoky green. At a glance, nature can seem dead, but deep inside twigs and roots, new life is growing, and in the sunshine, the fir trees gleam warmly, hinting at the summer foliage to come.

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This is one of my favourite walks. I love a bit of hilly horizon, and the absence of human artifacts allows me to pretend I’ve travelled back in time.

Stream 2No bathing yet, but this is only a stone’s throw from the tiny little beach at the centre of our village, where you can take an evening swim when all the hurly-burly’s done and the sun filters through the leaves. The water that glides over the rocks and breaks into froth looks a bit like a dark blue silk sleeve with tattered old lace at the cuff.

I really do love the place where I live.