vendredi 12 novembre 2010


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At times I feel uneasy about how quickly the months slip by without my even noticing. Always the same feelings, the same routine. The relief that it's Friday, the dread of Monday mornings, the weekends that will always be too short. The year will soon be over and the majority of our waking lives is forgotten, covered in the dust of habit with a few outstanding moments which sparkle like beads on a necklace. Yet it's all we have. Since beginning this blog, I'm conscious of how special the little moments are, I love taking a few minutes to look back through old posts and remind myself of all that I have seen.

I always imagined the return from Venice would be hard but the glorious late Indian summer has turned into a washout; mornings when you know it will impossible to leave the umbrella behind even before you draw the curtains and a sky so full of greyness (see above), the return of sunshine seems impossible. I'm ready for the first frosts, even for a little light snow to make things more interesting. In the meantime, I remember and find certain images returning to the surface, like fragments of a mosaic.

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Some wet pictures from last Sunday

My first memory is perhaps of riding round the back yard on a tricycle with my neighbour. Gone are any images of our first house where I spent my first three years, only a few entries in my mother's journal from back then illustrating my natural ability to cause chaos. The best was my turning up the washing machine to a high temperature so it flooded the kitchen.

- I remember the prefects at primary school who used to ask us how many times we'd be caught when they found us chatting after the bell had rung. If it was the third time, you were sent to Mr. S. , a man feared by everyone. He was my teacher in the last year and made almost every pupil cry. We would sit side by side in the class with one of us beginning with maths and the other with English, then switching after break so we didn't copy from one another. There were the music lessons with Mrs K., a tall woman with a strident voice who forced me into the choir. Every year a school play was held. I took over some interesting roles - a hula dancer in a grass skirt - but had my heart set on playing an angel at Christmas time, in spite of the organiser's desperate attempts to persuade me that wings and a halo didn't mean a lot of stage time. On my final day of school, I was persuaded by a girl called Rachel with dark hair to claim a school dinner without paying for it. The dessert was a chocolate sponge pudding.

- Twice a week, my father used to visit my grandmother in a home. It seemed the most exciting thing to go out and explore the small town. The egg custards at Birds bakery which I brought back for us, scanning the aisles of a giant Tesco supermarket and walking in the gardens around the house. Once my brother came with us and we played hide and seek in the grounds with its monkey puzzle trees. Snow covered the ground in a layer so light you could have scraped it away with your fingernail and I remember finding a place between the holly bushes.

- I remember firework displays for Guy Fawkes Night with spectacular explosions of light and colour. My hands were protected by a pair of thick mittens as I clutched my sparkler and created patterns against the stars.

I remember a concert at Kedleston Hall outside in the warmer months. At the end, darkness had fallen and we looked anxiously for the car, guided by the light of flaming torches.

In a week full of remembrance - Kristallnacht, fall of the Berlin Wall, Armistice Day - it feels good to take a moment to reflect. No recent pictures for you but some I took a few weeks ago when the sun hadn't deserted Berlin and I got up early to go to Treptower Park and the Soviet Memorial, a place full of monumental scultures which makes me feel relieved that I didn't grow up in this time. Walking through Tiergarten the other day, I paused close to the Mozart- Beethoven- Haydn Memorial I have become fond of since it marks our picnic area in the summer. I had never looked at it closely before and found its surface still covered in bullet holes which helped me imagine the brutality of the street fighting in those desperate final days of World War Two. I paused at a bookshop to buy myself a copy of Antony Beever's Berlin, a book I should have read years ago, ready to learn more about the terror that occured in the very streets I walk through each week.

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22 commentaires:

  1. A beautiful post! Lovely shots and memories.

    Have a wonderful weekend!



  2. A thoughtful post, many reflections, and a great set of photos. Thank you.

  3. You make the dying year look so alive... it is true that so many moments are grains of sand in memory...just so much beige... lingering over your images is not ... they are arresting and stay with me.

  4. I love the way you write and your photographs. Nice to have found your blog Vanessa.

  5. Hi Vanessa !

    The style of your writing suggests that you write with an ink and a pen :)
    Beautiful, delicate, vivid. Thank you.

    Lovely photos.

  6. Your pictures of Treptower Park bring back happy memories. I'm glad like you, though, that I didn't grow up in that place at that time. Your late-autumn shots are beautiful - the only thing you haven't managed to capture is the flat tedium of such damp days. Even your grey sky is beautiful.

  7. Vanessa--I'm so glad that you did go out & take the photographs of the leaves & the end of the year. Really lovely, as well, are the words. xo

  8. A lovely thoughtful post, Vanessa. Time goes by so always troubles me when I see the young wanting to grow up so fast.
    Your photos make me long for my home state...something I think often when I visit you as your photos speak to me.

  9. @Rosa - Thanks!
    @P.K - I'm so glad you liked it.
    @Deana - Oh, I'm pleased you find that I managed to make everything look interesting. To tell you the truth, I'm a little frustrated with these rainy days. Thanks for the lovely comment.
    @Olga - Oh thank you Olga, I feel very touched.
    @Abbie - I thought that you must also know and like this place. Nice that you find the photos don't show the dullness of November; to be honest, I was disappointed in them because everything looked so monotonous. Today though, the sun has finally returned! I'm hoping to have some better photo opportunities next Saturday and can't wait to see you again.
    @Susan - You inspired me to give it a try and I'm glad I did. Have a lovely weekend.
    @Barbara - I remember hating being so young, always wanting to have my freedom which is perfectly normal but it's only later that you realise what a luxury it was not to care about time and I can't believe it's nearly 2011! I'm pleased that my pictures bring back good memories for you.

  10. @My little expat kitchen - I always forget someone so hope you don't take it personally. It's funny but I've often seen your name in the comments of blogs we both like so thanks for leaving me a comment so I can visit your blog too.

  11. Those pictures are great.. great light especially! We're now entering a pretty bad time for photographers.. I'm still looking for strategies to take pictures of my books without coming up with a crappy result...

  12. Oh, there's another Magda now!!! It's going to be confusing, but I can also sign Manon with my other blog to make things easier, so that's what I'm doing right now.

    Beautiful post (as usual but you still deserve to be praised each time). I can picture you with your grass skirt, how I would have loved to see that!

    Yes, it feels good to stop and reflect. I lack so much time these days. It's really sad. Time is money? No, time is soul. Without time, people loose their souls pretty quickly. I really have to stop but I don't know when and how...

  13. Tes souvenirs de Guy Fawkes night me rappellent La chambre de Jacob de Woolf (avant je ne connaissais pas du tout cette cérémonie)et la délicieuse journée à Roubaix pour voir l'expo consacrée à Bloomsbury (promenade un peu désolée dans les rues enneigées, mais le musée était si beau !).
    Je viens de lire Isherwood, je me souviens d'avoir lu son nom dans ces pages, est-ce ses nouvelles sur Berlin que tu as lues ? je les ai adorées.

  14. @Pia - Only the first three or four were taken recently, the others are from a few weeks back when we still had an Indian summer. You're so right about the bad phase for photography and I'm looking forward to the Christiams lights and markets. Your book pictures always look cool though!
    @Manon - Thanks for the praise - it's really nice hearing that from such a talented writer like you. Sometimes things snowball and I hate not being able to shout stop and just take a moment. I really hope things get better for you soon and that we can see each other before the end of the year.
    @Rose - Ah, tu ne connaissais pas Guy Fawkes Night? A vrai dire, c'est devenu un peu énervant car les gens achètent des feux artifice 2 mois avant et on entend des explosions pendant des semaines. Je me souviens de ton billet sur cette expo que j'aurais adoré voir aussi. Les Berlin Stories sont vraiment magnifiques et je les adore. J'ai hâte de lire son billet sur Isherwood, un de mes écrivains préférés.

  15. I always feel like slowing down and savouring moments when I read your blog too, your photos often have a real sense of stillness and clarity which I love.

  16. Comme toujours ton post et ses photos sont superbes !

  17. @Sasa - Oh thanks, it's so nice to hear that.
    @Le citron - Merci!

  18. a nice post and full of lovely photos, cheers!

  19. When you mentioned "a few outstanding moments which sparkle like beads on a necklace" it really caught my attention. I've been thinking about this lately, unsure how I feel about it. Is it sad that there are only those few moments remembered, or not? Do all of the more mundane occurrences allow the special memories to stand out? Is it possible to have more outstanding moments? Do I want more? Perhaps I'm thinking too much today...

  20. It is amazing how most of our lives are spent thinking back or forward, not many of us live in the moment. This post is beautifully written "I remember and find certain images return to the surface, like fragments of a mosaic." Great.

    The second photo from the top is stunning. So vivid and alive.

  21. @Pity - Thanks so much.
    @Denise - It's a tricky question. If life were full of only memorable moments, nothing would ever be special but it'd certainly be nice to have the luxury of not forgetting so much, of just living for the moment. Sometimes, I can't even remember what I did yesterday or feel depressed that every week is the same and that's a pity.
    @Lazaro - The blog certainly helps me not to take everything for granted, although that inevitably happens. The past is gone so why not make the most of what we have? I'm pleased you like the second image since it was one of the few I felt happy with that day and which had some kind of colour. I get frustrated when the photos look dull.

  22. Malgre ce temps triste, si triste, tu as quand meme reussi a prendre de tres belles photos du temps qui passe.