Culture

Midsummer

Swedish midsummer is all about dancing around the maypole to live music.

This year, we arrived at the local farm a little too late —

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We could hear music in the distance;

But when we arrived at the maypole —

Slender against the cloudy sky —

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The musicians were already putting away

Their instruments for the day.

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We stopped to admire each ring of the maypole

Bedecked in flowers (woven there by hand).

The day did not go as planned,

But it’s how you roll with life that counts.

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For more midsummer stories, please visit: Our World.


Empty sky

When I was in New Jersey in April, I visited Liberty Park.

It’s home to the Empty Sky memorial

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And the outdoor waiting area and old railway station

That used to take immigrants to their new homes all over the USA.

Both places are near each other — and it struck me

How they are almost opposites: the one being all about destruction and loss;

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The other (in need of renovation – see last photo) a reminder of an age of tolerance and understanding.

Now that there is a harder attitude to refugees and immigrants and otherness

Around the world – it is somehow comforting to think that once the sky wasn’t empty,

But filled with open arms for people looking for a better life.

There was less ‘we and them’ and more ‘us’.

It’s my hope that there will be less hate and more love in the world.

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Immigrant waiting area

For more stories, please visit: Our World.


Fairytale Palace

The small bus chugs up the winding roads of Sintra —

And then after a steep uphill climb on foot,

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You gasp when you finally glimpse the fairytale outline

Of Pena Palace:

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A beautiful example of 19th century

Portuguese Romanticism.

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Gorgeous tiles and lemon walls

Are a breathtaking reminder

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Of how amazing the human imagination

Coupled with architecture can be.

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For more incredible sights, please visit: Our World.


Postcards from June

June was a time of misty greens

And magical tunnels of leaves.

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It drizzled a lot,

Meaning that everything

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Appeared misty

And slightly out of focus.

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But you know what –

I love it!

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For more misty greens, please visit: Our World.


Midsummer joy

Midsummer’s Eve is the second most important

Celebration in Sweden after Christmas.

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It’s a time for dancing

Around the midsummer maypole

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With flowers in your hair

No matter whether you are male, female or child.

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The folk dancers

Wear their traditional costumes —

(They start them off young…)

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As do the musicians:

It’s hard work though!

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And everyone has fun

No matter colour, age or belief system.

And that’s what is important in the world:

Love and tolerance.

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For more celebrations, please visit: Our World.


Vikings galore!

You know you live in Sweden

When you’re not totally surprised to see Viking warriors

Camped outside a tent.

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Viking heritage is celebrated around the country

In different events.

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This two-day festival took place near my home

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And the guest of honour was this beautiful

100-year-old replica of a Viking boat.

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Families often dress up

And attend these Viking festivals

Using clothes and equipment that reflect how life was back then —

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Even sleeping out

In these comfy-looking tents.

Talk about making history come alive!

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For more celebratory moments, please visit: Our World.

 

 


Light and hope

The tradition of Lucia is my favourite time of year:

When the darkness is lit up with candles and song.

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The light comes in many forms —

Whether it is the hope

For better times to come

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Or as a metaphor for love and compassion:

Those two metaphorical candles that drive out the darkness.

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For more light, please visit: Our World.


The Isle of the Dead

Since the 1800s, Venetians haven’t been allowed to bury their dead in Venice.

Instead, they come out to Isola di San Michele — two islands joined together to form a floating cemetery.

The first thing you see as you arrive

Is one of Venice’s first Renaissance churches.

(I took the photo through the ferry window.)

Isola

You can find graceful courtyards

And hidden-away sunny spots

Full of graves.

Pretty courtyard

The rich families could afford

To honour their sleeping beauties in marble.

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Even the more humble resting places

Are taken care of with love.

Graves

There are crosses as far as the eye can see —

A sobering reminder of what awaits us all.

Crosses

The cemetery island is the burial place of many famous people,

Including Ezra Pound, Doppler, Stravinsky and Diaghilev.

Our visit there was both life-affirming and moving.

Diaghilev

 

For those of you who want to know what happens when the cemetery gets ‘full’: the bodies are allowed to lie here for about 12 years, and then they are taken back to Venice and kept in an ossarium to make room for more burials.

For more histories, please visit: Our World.

 

 


That golden light

The kids and I spent a wonderful, long day in London recently —

And they had to pull me away as the sun was setting over the Thames.

The lamps were lit up by the golden glow of the sun

And the man seemed blissfully unaware of the seagulls flying up behind him …

Man on bridge

Even the double-decker buses looked romantic

As the molten carpet of light flowed over the water.

Golden water

However, I’m not really a big city kind of person

And am always grateful to be back by ‘my’ lake —

To enjoy its golden beauty.

The sunken boat in this photo reminds me of Rumi:

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure.”

Friendship

For more treasures, please visit: Skywatch.


Tate Modern

I’m celebrating six years of blogging with a look at the Tate Modern – a fabulous museum housed in the former Southbank Power Station – that I visited on my recent trip to England.

The old turbine hall is now the dramatic entrance of the art gallery.

Hall

The themes of space and light

Are also present in the art galleries themselves. (They used to be the boiler rooms of the power station).

Exhibit

Even the back of the turbine hall

Is full of light and enormous space.

(That round ball shape on the right is actually a small child.)

Small kid

As the gallery was closing,

The sun created its own artwork

Of light and shadows and beauty.

Leaving

For more artistic shots, please visit: Our World Tuesday.