COOL PLEASURES OF JANUARY

I like winter-time very much and when the weather then turns out to be dry, sunny and also quite cold, a complete clarity may seize subsequently our minds all of a sudden. So the month of January – being also the month of my birth – is for me always something special in the circle of the year while the old year is still present after a new year has already begun.. Possibly therefore the old Romans dedicated this month to their ancient god Janus, more commonly known as the god with two faces symbolizing for them both beginning and end – the spirit of entrances and exits.

DSC_0555Icy summit station on Mt. Fichtelberg (1,215 m) near the German-Czech border

In the Northern hemisphere January is normally also the coldest month and starts nine or ten days after midwinter which means here the shortest day in the year and a very long night – a day of great relevance also for bygone cultures and former civilizations. In the old Celtic year circle soon thereafter the socalled Raunächte (South-German / Austrian term meaning in wording rough nights also named The twelve nights after Christmas) will start on 24 December midnight and these nights are lasting until 6 January’s sunrise. For our ancestors these were really holy nights, a time to be spent with the family and for feasts, what is called today more profane holiday season.

20160115_140004_resizedThat is me and my fast racing sled / luge in action

So this has to be of course also a good time to really enjoy winter in the mountains when snow crystals are covering in thick layers trees and bushes, hills and meadows, houses and trails in a sometimes mysteriously and weird manner inviting you to move further to the far away horizon.

DSC_0731Endless forestry trail in snowy disguise

And after such a walk through the white painted woodlands it is time to engulf in the real soundtrack of winter The Walrus Hunt by The Residents being one of my favourite songs (1). Now welcome there in the real North, home of the Inuit.

 

© transmutation.me (2016)

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BoU1YTWENA

AEROBIC WITH A BYGONE ERA

Stones – irrespective whether slate, basalt, sandstone, marbel, volcanic bombs or glacial blocks – are all dumb witnesses of the past and the global memory in Earth’s history. Even hundreds or thousands of years after they have been formed by nature or artistic design into surreal natural sceneries and/or real sculptures they still provide information regarding past eons and long ago forgotten cultures.

DSC_0446Silhouette of a royalistic monument at Charlottenburg castle, Berlin

Patiently digging and examining researchers and archeologists have decoded the messages of diversely carved stones on the whole world which report quite often about war and rulers or testify the spiritual beliefings of its creators which may also be quite demonic and frightening sometimes. The first glimpse induces us eventually to believe that all this is a simple illusion because our cognition likes irreal gamblings showing us only what we would like to see. Just look in the jewel’s case of your mother to understand what I mean.

© transmutation.me (2016)

 

 

 

 

LOST CITIES IN THE JUNGLE

Chichen_Itza_Castillo_Frederick Catherwood_1843_drawingThe Castle of Chichen-Itza, 1843, drawing by Frederick Catherwood

“In 1519 Hernan Cortez, the great Spanish conquistator stormed and took the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. He did not then, and he never knew, that it was built upon the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Five years later he travelled across what is now the little republic of Honduras, hacking his way foot by foot through an almost impene-trable forest given over to reptiles and insects and the odours of putrefaction. Had he turned aside from the path he was cutting, by only a fraction, he would have come to a little stream where he would have found in the midst of all this luxuriant foliage the ruins of what had once been a great city. It was the city of Copan, the chief light amongst others such as Tikal or Palenque of the Mayan civilization which existed between A.D. 176 and A.D. 620. They are still, far from all other human habitations, lost in the powerful tropical forest which like some sylvan boa-constrictor, has literally swallowed them up and is now devouring them at its leisure, prising the finehewn, close-laid stones apart with its writhing roots and tendrils.”

John Stewart Collis in “The Vision of Glory, The extraordinary Nature of the Ordinary”

Façade_principale_du_palais_des_Nonnes_Désiré Charnay_1859AMain Front of the Palace of the Nuns, Chichen-Itza 1859, photography by Désiré Charnay

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

Being in nature is sometimes a trip back to history, while in 1998 I used to climb on Mangart mountain in the Julian Alps of Slovenia together with my girl-friend. The trail at some parts is leading directly on the border between Italy and Slovenia (on the photo the white stone with numbers indicates the actual frontier).

TheSkyIsTheLimit_MangartMountain_Slovenia_1998      Trail to Mangart mountain (2,677 m) / Border between Italy and Slovenia

Today this means a place of peace and challenge for those climbing on the mountains, but only 100 years ago this was a location of battles and war because this area used to be the Isonzo frontline in World War I, and here the armies of Italy and the Austrian Empire were executing fierce, endless fighting in the mountains up to altitudes of more than 2,000 m.

Relicts of this war without real winner (old military paths, ruins, tunnels) can still be found at diverse scattered locations in both countries. Today only the sky is the limit here fortunately.

© transmutation.me (2015)

 

 

 

ALIEN’S CHEESECAKE BATTLE

SpaceBoys4Lucius-A and Lucius-B in meditation modus at their 5th anniversary

Would you share your delicious cheesecake with hungry aliens knocking at your door and begging for entrance to your next party? They are thursty and hungry after a long trip through space and time, and their only weapons are tiny spacy spoons in order to immediately start a fight with the sweet enemies offered as a courtesy to the guests. So always take care when preparing cheesecake because this is truly their favourite terrestrial ambition.

 

© transmutation.me (2015)

https://michnavs.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/monday-morning-melts-2/

THE RED LINES OF BEING

 31-Otis-tarda-Jiri-BohdalCourtship dance of male great bustards in early spring   © Jiri Bohdal

Great bustards have been already mentioned long time ago in older writings of Pliny the Elder as avis tarda, and in 1758 they were classified with their scientific name Otis tarda by Carl Linnaeus while the description tarda is Latin for slow and deliberate which is apt to describe the typical walking style of these possibly heaviest flying birds in the world who breed in southern and central Europe and across temperate Asia. European population are mainly resident, but Asian birds move further south in winter. Portugal and Spain now contain about 60 % of the world’s population (approx. 50,000 birds in total). The birds are often described as magnificent, stately birds because of the males’ great size, cocked tails and large white whiskers.

This species has suffered rapid population reductions across most of its range owing to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat, as well as hunting leading to a complete extinction in Great-Britain already in the midst of the 19th century. In Germany around 200 birds are now living again at three different locations in the eastern part what means an increase of 400 % in relation to the bad situation in 1997. This is only possible by heavy intervention of ornithologists and nature conservationists who for example achieved that the new railway trail from Berlin to Hannover had to be redirected several years ago in order not to disturb the birds – meanwhile fenced areas have additionally been constructed at suitable locations as a protection for the birds because unfortunately, the great bustards are also a bit stubborn and conservative in their behavior what may be quite dangerous for a vulnerable species.

So the flexible and intelligent fox could normally always very easily steal their eggs while they simply do not take enough care of it. But these reserved islands here in Germany seem to be also a little bit like an outdoor-zoo hosting ornithological observation towers for bird watchers of all kind (one good observation point is situated for example near the city of Märkisch-Luch, urban district Garlitz, in the federal  state of Brandenburg) but observation is normally only possible in early spring during the courtship displays. However, you need always binoculars as the birds are always moving in a minium distance of 300 m.

Their distant relative – the crane – instead could be a good teacher in this regard who overflies each year the continents of this world in order to find the best places for survival. But when you do not cross the red lines of being, then you will never know what is lying there behind the horizon of singularity. Even if you subsequently discover only a half-filled glass of water this is definitely always much better than a dried-up big river in front of your door.

DSC_0350Old fountain in the countryside of La Palma / Canary Islands

© transmutation.me (2015) if not otherwise mentioned

MEETING LUBLIN IN POLAND – EUROPE AT THE BRINK

Poland or Polska is just standing for the term of a flat land what it is mostly in reality with wide agricultural fields, big forests and national parks, some mountains in the South-East at the border to Slovakia (High Tatra), small villages and some wellknown big cities like Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw or Gdansk. Around 40 million people are living there which are 99,9 % Christians (87 % Roman-Catholics) – only 5,000 Jews and around 30,000 Muslims have still their home in this country with a total amount of foreigners of around 100,000 or 0,27 % of the population (1).

So this is nowadays a ethnically cleaned society due to the brutal and fierce developments during the Nazi-occupation between 1939-1945. In former times the population was really much more diverse with a lot of Jews and other nationalities living there what is in my view always better for creating an open society.

Poland-Lithunia used to be an important monarchy in medieval times with the capital Cracow, but afterwards for long-time it was governed by foreign countries, divided more than once between other empires with the effect that Polish was more an underground language for centuries, therefore it is also regarded as a quite museal language in the Slavic area because it could not develop freely for long time. The grammar is really complicated, so to learn it is really not an easy task, but some few words like “barzo djekuje” (many thanks) can always be helpful to know for every visitor.

Due to the very bad experiences made in history nationalism is quite attractive for Polish people as a political concept, as long this does not mean national egoism and stupidity this is normally not a problem for neighbouring countries. So Polish people or governments quite often look nervously to the West (Germany) or anxiously towards the East (Russia) especially due to the traumatic experiences in the 20th century when in 1939 Germany and the Soviet-Union invaded and occupied the country and divided it in 2 parts where incredible crimes and mass-murders of the local populations took place. Subsequently a lot of matters happening today are a little bit more understandable when looking back in history of this country in the heart of Europe.

DSC_0065Urban art at an unused house in the old town of Lublin

The town of Lublin is situated in the very South-East of Poland not far away from the border to the Ukraine. The old town is very charming because not all houses are perfectly restored (some even without inhabitants) but instead you will find a lot of old pathes for loafing around, a high diversity of pubs and restaurants which are very crowded in the evening, just real life. Besides there is also an old castle in the centre hosting nowadays a big museum with a lot of important paintings from Polish history.

DSC_0018Former SS concentration camp Majdanek near Lublin

Only a few kilometers from the city centre you will find the former SS concentration camp Majdanek which was finally erected in December 1941 with the original purpose to serve as a camp for war prisoners from the Soviet-Union. However, it was then utilized for other purposes such as accomodating Polish civilians forced to work for the German SS regime. In 1943 and 1944 it served also as a place for eliminating the local Jewish population till the Red Army freed it in August 1944. At least 80,000 people (59,000 Jews) were killed here in the gas chamber, by shooting, due to hard work and inhuman treatment or by disease. On the photo you see the watch towers, in the background the crematorium with chimney and the white modern memorial monument made out of concrete at the place of a mass-grave. A visit is quite terrifying because the horror is still present in one of the still existing gas-chambers or the crematorium. This kind of industrialized mass-murdering is hardly realiziable for us today at this damned location.  So the memorial place outside of the camp therefore shall be a place of honour and remembrance to those who lost their life here at the brink of Europe.

DSC_0024Performance of the German-Polish chorus “Spotkanie” in May 2015 at Kazimierz Dolny

Fortunately we today live in different times with open borders between a lot of European countries (the Schengen zone). This is also the case for the border between Germany and Poland which can today be easily crossed normally without any control or delay. However, it must be still quite astonishing for a lot of people in Poland, when the mixed German-Polish chorus Spotkanie from Berlin is making concerts in Poland (mainly in churches) and then performing also a lot of traditional Polish songs like Gaude mater. The word Spotkanie is Polish and means meeting each other,  so in May 2015 the chorus did a short of performance on the market place of Kazimierz Dolny supported by the dynamic mayor of the town (to be seen on the photo infront of the chorus to the left) who professionally whistled melodies on a simple leaf what was a quite funny situation. Kazimierz Dolny (ca. 40 kms from Lublin to the North-West) is meanwhile regarded as one of the nicest villages in Poland with 2 famous Rennaissance buildings at the market place for instance. It is also possible to make short boat trips here on the nearby river Vistula.

zamosc_armenian housesMarket place with town hall and the Armenian houses at Zamosc

The city of Zamosc is a must for every visitor of this region while it is also called the “Padua of the North” – a UNESCO world culture heritage town being situated around 35 kms from Lublin to the South. The city was constructed (starting 1578) in accordance with the ideas of the Italian master builder Bernardo Morando in the style of the Italian Renaissance. It was founded by Jan Zamoyski in 1576 who was also the name giver of the town – his descendant Marcin Zamoyski was president of the town during the periods of 1990–1992 and 2002–2014. At the big market place it is truly nice to stay in one of the diverse taverns for a coffee or whatever will be individually preferred.

Wurzelschlucht2Roots gorge near Kazimierz Dolny

To complete an impression of the region it is also very much advisable to pay longer attention to a natural moment near Kazimierz Doly – the roots gorge created by erosion where you can view a lot of exposed roots created by very big trees in all different shapes. An amazing place for enjoying the subtile powers of plants which are existing much longer than our species on this unique planet Earth.

 DSC_0047

(1) All figures were published by the European statistics authority as per end of 2014.

More information is also available under the links above:
http://www.staypoland.com/about_lublin.htm
http://www.deutsch-polnischer-chor-berlin.eu/

© transmutation.me (2015)