Lens-Artists Challenge #241 – Spring

This week Sofia invites us to show what Spring means to us. As winter refuses to let go of its grip this year, I will give you my feeling of ”vårvinter” or ”spring winter”. These are our days between winter and spring, and they belong to March in Sweden and Finland. Sometimes it is called ”the fifth season”.

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.

– Henry Van Dyke

This means that ice is melting during the day, but the cold night brings it back again. Mist often occurs.

The first cranes arrive – not many yet, only about 1000 at Hornborgasjön this week. And faraway they were from the view point…but I managed to find some of them.

More birds arriving to the lake, and in a couple of weeks there will be around 20000 cranes and thousands of other birds.

Spring winter brings a very special, magical light – a light filled with promise.

There is a faint chiming in the air, and bird calls, soft ones and strong ones. When all cranes have arrived, you cannot even hear your own thoughts…

But until then, the stillness over the landscape rules, peaceful, powerful.

Back home again, spring is even more in the air. Soon, soon the anemonies, the daffodils and all colours will arrive and once again we will be swept away by the miracle of spring.

New beginnings, Nature reborn or a new chance to go and enjoy the outdoors? For me, spring means all of this. We look forward to seeing what spring images you will come up with, so remember to link back to Sofia’s original post and to tag Lens-Artists.

Last week John took us on a journey through most often travelled roads, where our photography is most comfortable. It was fascinating to see the differences, but also how they all lead to the same destination. Next week it is Anne’s turn to host so please visit her beautiful site and join us if you can. Until then, take care and be kind.

For more information on the Lens-Artists Challenge, please click here.

LAPC #238 – Alone Time

Some journeys in life can only be traveled alone.

― Ken Poirot

Alone time means time spent by an individual or a couple apart from others. It is often used to ground oneself, or to do something creative.

In the northern countries we are known for this need of alone time – but I strongly believe we all need it. We just have to watch for the signs… even if they are not always easily recognized. You might for example need some time away from other people when you are feeling short-tempered or getting easily irritated by minor things; feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated; having trouble concentrating or getting anxious about spending time with other people.

My own reasons for needing alone time originates from being an only child, and growing up close to the forests and fields – Nature holds all the beauty I need in life, and I have been given the gift to see and to listen, and to rejoice in it. I am very grateful.

Grounding yourself is when you stay connected to the present. Instead of getting lost in anxiety and reviewing a made-up version of reality in your head, grounding allows you to experience the moment you are in. It requires being connected to yourself and provides stability and calm even in challenging situations.

Nature is an unequalled source to pour from – turn off social media, open your windows and let your eyes and mind wander with you on the path you choose. Personally, my favourite path is the one with grass in the middle…just like my childhood paths.

I feel better when I am surrounded, not by humans, but by trees.

― Michael Bassey Johnson

For many of us books and reading fill this alone time well. Reading gives us the possibility to wander into other worlds, while sitting comfortably in our own chair.

For me, photography, writing and sketching works well too, and so does painting.

I know that I need serious alone time to be able to function. For this purpose, I finally realised an old dream – A Room of My Own.

We need solitude, because when we’re alone, we’re free from obligations, we don’t need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts.

― Tamim Ansary

Finding time to be alone can have a number of key benefits. Some of these include personal exploration, creativity and social energy. If you are not used to spend time alone, plan that time into your schedule and make sure that other people know that they shouldn’t interrupt you during that time. It might be helpful too if you plan out what you want to do –

This week in February, every year, I want my husband to travel for some days, so that I can replant my houseplants, alone. I can plan it as I want to, I can emerge myself in facts on the different species…

…and end up with revived plants and cuttings en masse – cheers to new life!

This year I also bought some airplants – they need no soil, just a piece of bark, some Spanish moss, and some sprinkling of water. At the same time I get the joy of creating interesting new arrangements.

New projects are always around the corner, but, I also try hard to just BE. Do nothing. Exist here and now. This is difficult. I wonder – do you manage it? Some good advice would be much appreciated.

Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.

~ Paulo Coelho

When I am completely by myself, entirely alone or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.

~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A Special thank you to Bren for her soft and magical challenge last week! We learned new things and new experiences make us grow. Now we are looking forward to seeing your Alone Time posts. What are your thoughts, and what do you use your alone time for? Be sure to tag Lens-Artists and link to my original post.

I have been made aware of pingbacks not working, so please, send your link in the comment section! It seems the reason it’s not working might originate in the change to JetPack on my phone.

Next week, Tina will be hosting, and her theme will be – Finding Peace. Please visit her beautiful site for inspiration.

Thursday Thoughts – Driving Home

I just wanted to send you some winter magic we found along the road last week.

It was darkening fast, so – the quality might not be perfect…

…but who can just pass by these without stopping for a photo?

Thursday Thoughts – Along the Old Country Road

There is something special with old country roads…Every autumn we walk some kilometers along this country road, and I guess you might recognize parts of it, even if it changes over the years. But, that is one of the reasons why I like to photographs this walk every year.

This part of our neighbouring village was always an agricultural area with many small farms.

Today farming is mostly a business for big farms with much land and large machines to work it.

This house is a typical old farmstead, but I am not sure anyone lives here anymore. It looks abandoned – even though you can see furniture and lamps if you look in the windows. There are even withered house plants in some of them, and a sign with the owner’s name. It looks like the owners just walked out the door left it that way.

Old wagons and tractors are left at the road side or in an abandoned garden.

I feel sad looking at it, because farmers work hard every day, every hour on their land – but as they grow old, they reach a point where they cannot manage it any longer. Being a farmer is a lifestyle, and that must be hard to give up.

There must be a few farmers still working though, because there is cattle in the small fields and meadows.

Aren’t they beautiful, making bypassers feel the harmony and the beauty of the landscape! I wonder what their story is…

LAPC#222 – Mountains are Calling

Amy is our host this week, and she hopes we will share our joy and pleasure of visiting/climbing  mountains. I know many of us are mountain lovers, so we are looking forward to seeing your responses! Be sure to link to Amy’s original post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

In the mountains, there you feel free.

– T. S. Eliot

Let’s start close to home, in Scandinavia, with green summer mountains…

…blue glaciers and

mocca coloured, volcanic Iceland. They are calling to me with their special light and fresh air.

The Canary Islands offer more than beaches, we usually hike the mountain areas. Pico de las Nieves in the faraway clouds, and the pinnacle in the middle is called Roque del Fraile (monk)

On top of the world is the Himalayas, an impressive mountain range. Here seen from northern Bhutan.

More from the Himalayas, now seen from the Tibetan Plateau, where we went by train to Lhasa.

A holy lake in Tibet. The landscape is vast and it took some time for my son to walk down to the water. Lower mountains here, but still impressive. The clouds seemed to hang right above us, almost touchable, and the contrasts were bright in the thin air. This is about 3000-4000 meters above sea level.

The mountain meadows of Switzerland are a haven of summer flowers in July. I think this image shows the essense of this week’s challenge – “The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

Hiking mountains is so much more than the spectacular views – it is meeting other hikers, photographing flowers, animals, and different landscapes.

Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.

― Jeffrey Rasley

Many of us seek the mountains to be alone. To shut out the world and just BE. Silence is rare in this world.

Go where you feel most alive.

– Unknown

So, mountains are calling me because of their beauty, for peace of mind and soul…for moving my body at a pace that suits me, for spending time in the glory of nature. And for photography.

I will finish with other ways of loving mountains… bungyjumping, kiteflying, skiing, rafting, aso…today there are endless activities to try in the mountains if hiking is not your thing. In New Zealand you can get it all.

I cannot thank you enough for last week’s explosion in flowers! You sent us just what I had hoped for – an abundance of glorious flowers! For once, you could indulge in lovely flower images without regret (!), and many of you pointed out the impossibility in chosing favourites – because we love them all! ♥

Next week, John will host LAPC #223. Be sure to visit his site for loads of inspiration. Until then, stay safe and be kind.

Thursday Thoughts – Douro River

From Porto, a boat trip along the Douro river into the beautiful wine district was a must. The Douro valleys have a microclimate allowing for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes, which are important for making port. According to our guide, the region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira is considered to be the centre of port, with its quintas (or farms/estates) along the steep slopes of the river valleys. Today, many of these are owned by multinational, reputed wine companies.

The grapes had been harvested two weeks before we arrived, so the fields were empty – but still eye-catching.

We went by bus to the vineyard where we were going to eat and try their wines. With those lovely views everywhere, you could not fall asleep…

…neither on the river nor on the bus.

The rolling green hills and the blue sky – all softness and harmony.

The vines were almost always combined with olive trees – giving a soft silvery touch to the landscape.

Finally, as our trip was coming to an end, we inhaled the magnificent view from Quinta S Luiz before entering the bus again.

Of course we had delicious Portuguise food and nice wine along with it. Strolling through the wine cellar of Quinta S Luiz, I found ”my” vintage wine – but I did not buy it… maybe I should have…

Thursday Thoughts – Morning Fields

My grandmother would have been 111 years old today. She loved morning fields just as much as I do.

Driving through the misty morning of Wordless Wednesday to reach these dewy fields. What compares to a summer morning?

– Nothing

Sunday morning will see the last photo of this tour in search of summer silence. I finally reached the river.

Thursday Thoughts – The walk to Grenen, Skagen

A two hours’ walk to reach the top end of Denmark, where the two seas meet – The North Sea and The Baltic.

The Skagen lighthouse – looking back when we started walking. We hoped to reach Grenen before sundown.
We could see the land’s end from our starting point, but as usual, the eyes do not tell the truth about the distance…

Tough winds and soft sand made the walk feel even longer. But the play of light and shadow over land and sea had me intensely occupied.

Sand finds its way in if you don’t wear the right clothes.

Finally there – some people running to get to the last tiny spot of land… and some even braved the waves for a photo.

A tough walk for small children – happy to have a strong dad at hand! And, we all made it just before sunset.