This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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A modern monkey

canopy-2After browsing the free-time activities during a work retreat, I signed up for a canopy tour. I thought it would be like the canopy tours I did in the past: walking on planks and suspension bridges in trees. How wrong I was. Read the small print they say – but who ever does?

Instead we were whisked up on top of a mountain in a ski lift, trussed and clamped into a harness, and sent down the mountain on ziplines, toes skimming the treetops. Hanging from a wire, wind in my eyes, speeding towards a huge tree, I had to learn to brake with my glove on the wire before hitting it full speed. That’s what the helmets were for – or against.

canopy-1 As I stood under the apex of a lark tree, enjoying the sunlight and hum of the wind in the branches, squirrels scattered in all directions with angry complaints: humans don’t belong in the trees anymore. “Have not done so for quite a while so Go Away!”

Yet I could not help but think of John Muir’s tale about when he rode out a storm in the top of a douglas fir in Yosemite. And I thought of redwood arborists who spend days harnessed and hanging from trees, studying the animals and trees that grow from compost deposited on a redwood branch – and even sleeping suspended in the trees.

And I realized I just may have missed a second calling as an arborist, spending my days up in the trees, researching the microecosystem of a single tree branch. I may have missed a chance for happiness by reverting into a modern monkey.

canopy-3(Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA; October 2015)


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New Hampshire ruska

NH-forest Is it a 19th century landscape with oil on canvas? No, it is real: the backyard of our lovely hotel in Bretton Woods. Ruska is Finnish for fall foliage and this is ruska at its best. But what Scandinavia misses is the maple that, when it sucks back the life from its leaves, turns them a dark-blue-blood-red against its light gray trunk. The New England ruska is tinted by royal blood.

(Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA; October 2015)


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The haunted hotel

NH-hotel-1

Imagine a white, long, stately grand hotel. With miles of corridors, white doors, and old Persian rugs. With hidden rooms and the scent of old age, and a bar with an age-old bartender. With guest rooms in which good things have happened – and horrible things, too. With REDRUM spelled on the door.

Yes. REDRUM. The Shining. “Honey, I’m home!” Jack Nicholson’s character going into serial-killer-mode. Except for that the location was changed to another hotel in Colorado just before filming began. Yet sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The Omni Mount Washington resort in New Hampshire looks like the hotel from the movie. Only the haunted hedge maze is missing.

What a relief, then, that only room 314 is haunted. It is only at night when the hotel creaks and sighs. On a clear day you can see Mount Washington in the distance. And no REDRUM MURDER happened on our watch. 

NH-hotel-2(Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA; October 2015)


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Dazed and confused in Boston

Boston-1 There was a long flight, jetlagged people lost in a hotel, and a quick dash to Macy’s for proper winter-weight stockings. There was somebody who knew which direction to take, and finally a skyscraper and an elevator upward.

And suddenly there was a cocktail party on the top floor, and Boston at our feet. A gray day turned into a spectacular golden sunset. And after hours our jetlagged brains were exposed to the crazy show of the Blue Man Group. Best viewed when drunk or near-expired by exhaustion.

Boston, city of smart and innovative minds, today my dull mind was no match against the first glimpse you offered. Rematch another time?

Boston-2

(The Charles River, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; October 2015)


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It’s a small world

wyomingThe border of Wyoming and Colorado from the air, just outside of Cheyenne.

wyomingfromtheair Same location one week later, when I only remembered the approximate location (after Nevada and before Cheyenne) and after studying Google Maps for about two minutes. The world is small – or Google Maps is great? Which is more frightening?

(Wyoming/Colorado, USA; December 2014)


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The crookedest street

lombardstreet

Once upon a time there was a street so squiggly that people came to see it from far. To drive down it was sightseeing. To walk down it drunk was daring. To photograph it was expected.

And yet the roses did not mind. They thrived, covering every spot of earth in between the zig-zagging road. Because they had the most beautiful view of the Bay. Because for them, what was crooked to most people was normal.

(Lombard street at night, San Francisco, USA; December 2014)