This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Hipster-to-be houses

tartudec-8In an area of town where streets are named “carrot”, “potato”, “pea”, and “celery”, one can only find down-to-earth inhabitants. The pre-war houses are heated with wood, the gardens are shaded by age-old apple trees, and every window looks inviting.
On a Sunday morning, surprisingly many people carrying wood across the garden or playing with children are young. Twenty-something and definitely with a tinge of hipster. In a (still) emerging economy, where money and glitz speaks of success, the original Soup Town artists, musicians, and vagrants are about to be updated with a lot that grows their own food, moves around town on designer bikes, and sports beards and expensive headphones. This is the time to make one of those lovely wooden houses your own. Five years from now it will make your wallet bleed.

Oh, I almost forgot. The neighborhood is called Supilinn, “Soup Town”. Why? Because that is what you get when you cook carrots, potatoes, peas, and celery.
tartudec-9(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)

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Seeing stars

tartudec-11Scholars have been seeing stars in Tartu for over 200 years. The old observatory is crammed with equipment to view, measure, and analyze. And it is a cold place, even with the hatch closed. A non-astronomer never realizes how freaking cold it is to work at an observatory, because except for in late summer, the clearest nights also mean coldest nights. Yet once again, no such luck for me.

(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)

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Wilde & Vilde

tartudec-12Being contemporaries, focused as much on style as on wit and critique of society, Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde could have met. But they never did. And so they were depicted having  a chat on a bench outside of a pub in Tartu. Oddly, I learned that the exact same piece stands (or sits) in Galway, Ireland.

What an unsettling thought: after you are dead and gone, somebody depicts you next to a person you never met nor knew, assuming there is a connection – and the rest of the world agrees.

(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)

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Sweet youth

tartudec-7In the middle of the square they stand, kissing. Caught in a moment, frozen in love forever. These are no prissies for sure: note her short, tight skirt and his dancing shoes. This is young love, frivolous and unassuming; self-absorbed no matter the weather.

It was a cold Saturday in December. Somebody kind had wrapped the lovers in a woollen scarf. Hot pink, of course, just like their love.

(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)

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Stone of sacrifice

tartudec-14There, unassumingly in the park, next to a currently acknowledged house of God stands a much older site of God. A million sacrifice ceremonies have worn out round indentations in the rock, like bowls carrying gifts to the Divine.

The days of worship are not over. The students of Tartu university use it to burn their lecture notes after exams. Perhaps it is not so much a sacrifice to knowledge and life but a purification of methods after numerous books have been converted to understanding and insight?

Times change. Our need to connect with the Universe will not.
tartudec-13(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)

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Days of misfortune arrived—blows fell broadly—
death seized all those sword-stout men—their idol-fanes were laid waste —
the city-steads perished. Their maintaining multitudes fell to the earth.
For that the houses of red vaulting have drearied and shed their tiles,
these roofs of ringed wood. This place has sunk into ruin, been broken
into heaps…

(Anonymous, 800 AD)

tartudec-16(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)