Aporetic Water (Ohio XI)

The second long hike this fall in Ohio took me to the waterfalls in Hocking Hills State Park.

Flowing water is infinitely attractive. It’s common to capture waterfalls through long exposures to get that seductive silkiness.

Waterfalls can be as beautiful as the human body.

One little project I have is to make a time lapse movie with long time exposures of waterfalls, ideally in Iceland, over 24 hours, taking one shot every minute, which would give a single one minute long clip.

Then one can also capture instants time with very short exposures, dissolving the flow of a water into isolated droplets.

Here the plan would be to create a slow-motion film, taking hundreds of shots a minute, and exposing each for 1/8000 of a second, so that we can follow each droplet for much longer that it takes to fall.

Scragglies (Ohio X)

When I visited state parks in Ohio at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, I didn’t expect that we would still be struggling with isolation.

One of the places I visited then was Conkles Hollow, whose rim trail offers fascinating views of scraggly trees on the steep slopes of the nature preserve.

I was curious how all this would look in the late fall, and the difference is not big.

If at all, the trees have become a bit more scraggly (and older, like myself), many individual lonelinesses in immutable clusters.

Maybe they are patiently waiting, too, for time to pass, wounds to heal, and spring to come.

Would they move elsewhere, if they could, and become tall and beautiful?

Braun (Berlin XI)

Taste changes, as do necessities.

What you see here are impressions from the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, which has been controversial for two decades, mainly for financial reasons.

My own reservations are more of a more esthetic and, alas, political nature. At first, I was struck by its boredom.

We have low ceilings, steel, glass, and — brown decor.

The prevalence of the color brown (mostly in the form of dead wood and marble tiles) darkens the place, and, much worse, reminds me of an esthetic that I believed had been overcome long ago.

Curiously, the older airport Berlin-Tegel (which had replaced airport Berlin-Tempelhof, famous for the being used for the Luftbrücke during the Berlin Blockade) still feels much more modern, with its successful usage of simple geometric shapes like hexagons and triangles to create an efficient and stimulating atmosphere, was co-designed by the same architect, Meinhard von Gerkan.

Admittedly, here in Indiana I am used to the color brown, and I have always feared that it supports an unhealthy emotional state.

At least here, at BER, there is a solution built-in: Leave.

Lonesome Lake (Colorado III)

My third and last day in the Holy Cross Wilderness took me to Lonesome Lake, a suitable day hike for recovery, because it has little elevation gain and is easy on the mind.

The first part is gently uphill through old growth forests. Aging can be beautiful.

The middle section leads through lush meadows with an abundance of wildflowers. This would be a place to grow old.

Then, after a short last climb, there is the lake, lonesome alright, as is the entire valley.

Behind the lake the valley closes with mountains from the continental divide. Crossing it means going west.

Sadly not yet. Hopefully soon.

History Lessons (Berlin X)

If you search the internet for Cemeteries at Hallesches Tor, you will find blog posts about this cemetery, and some of them mention an encounter with a friendly middle aged man.

Saying a greeting led to a polite exchange, which in turn led to a conversation about the cemetery in general, which in turn led to an in-depth discussion of many specific graves.

This is another one of these blog posts. I, too, met this person, and received the best history lesson I had in my entire life.

For instance, I learned about the strange markings on many graves that look like gun shot holes. They are from gun shots, inflicted in one of the many utterly senseless battles of the Second Word War, when the Nazis forced teenage boys to confront the Soviet army, with only a handful of ammunition and no hope but death.

Or about the bunker that the Nazis build on this cemetery after making room by eliminating all traces of the Jewish graves, a bunker that was never used as it filled instantly with ground water, a bunker that has resisted demolition ever since, a bunker that couldn’t be more meaningless.

Or about the grave of Archduke Leopold Ferdinand of Austria, one of the last hopes of the Austrian Monarchy after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, one of the escalations that led to the First World War, but who happily renounced his title in order to marry the sex worker Wilhelmine Adamovicz. His grave (together with this third wife Clara Hedwig Pawlowski) is reportedly still visited yearly by mourning monarchists.

Other visitors commemorate E.T.A. Hoffmann’s death by following his request not to bring flowers but champagne…

And of course there are graves of mathematicians, like the one of the immortal Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi, and less famous ones, like the one of Horst Kirchmeier, whose brave attempts to liberalize the German law governing sexual offenses went rather far.

I could continue my history lesson for a while. Or write about the symbolic of the cast iron fences.

Or about the massive thefts of tomb decorations that apparently sell world wide for enormous sums. Or what happened to the churches to which this cemetery belonged, and what buildings are there now… Another day.

Encounters (Beaver Creek Wilderness III)

There is more to a landscape – or a life – than the sum of its pieces. So maybe acceptance is not the only way to relate.

More and more it occurs to me that what really matters is our involvement with the place, or the person. And hence, what I am talking about here is not the place, but my encounters with it.

Each picture not only tells the story of such an encounter, but in turn offers the viewer an opportunity for other encounters.

I am not suggesting that there is meaning here, merely an attempt of mutual understanding.

By capturing these moments of dialogue, do we try to capture time itself, be it in its vague state of chaotic flow,

be it in the solid state of a rock face hourglass?

Acceptance (Beaver Creek Wilderness II)

Entering Beaver Creek Wilderness from the Three Forks of Beaver Trailhead has the advantage that you get a view of the area before descending into the gloomy valley.

Signs are rare, trail markings sparse, and the trail itself often unrecognizable. The very humid landscape is subject to continuous transformation due to intense growth and decay, so I was initially grateful to be able to hang on to the rocks.

How does one esthetically tame a feral landscape like this? Instead of imposing structure, one approach is to embrace the wild complexity, and let it overwhelm.

Once you reach the valley bottom, you can follow Middle Ridge Trail along Beaver Creek upstream or downstream; the former offers better campsites (I think).

Hiking downstream has more rock formations, if you desire so.

Then, strangely, a rather wide wooden bridge: For what traffic?

After a while one gets used to the constant slipping in mud, tripping over roots, and breaking off rotten wood when attempting to prevent a fall.

One begins to look away from the rocks and to accept that the transformative power of this place, water, offers reflection, too.

Is this it? Why, is this not enough?

Falling (Beaver Creek Wilderness I)

The abundance of Magnolia macrophylla was one of the my favorite attractions in Kentucky’s Beaver Creek Wilderness.

At this time of the year, the giant fallen leaves become an essential part of the ground cover.

Even the Beaver Creek itself is not safe, the unfallen leaves appear as reflections.

Many get stuck among their smaller friends in the process of falling,

or decide to go the last steps of decay just a few inches above ground.

Panopticum (Berlin IX)

The Designpanopticum is a small but densely packed museum in Berlin’s Nikolaiviertel.

Vlad Korneev has been collecting technical relics for decades and arranged them to make them even more bizarre, as if this was necessary.

If there ever was meaning, we can be certain that it is gone now.

This place is the exact opposite of a tabula rasa; it’s what I expect to find in my own brain, if I had the ability to climb into it and have a look.

Still, and non unlike the tabula rasa, this overloaded chaos gives us the opportunity to commence again, to consider this as fertile ground instead of as a mess.

Following the loop, stairs up and down, we find new ways to see, to make sense again, in an entirely new way.

Lost function becomes purposed beauty. Maybe this is not for everyone to see. It’s my brain, after all…

Missouri & Fancy Lakes Loop (Colorado II)

An excellent hike to warm up and adjust to altitude in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado combines the Fancy Lakes and Missouri Lakes trails to a 8.5 mile loop.

The ascent via Fancy Lake is a steady climb without difficulties, and offers plenty of opportunities to contemplate nature, and the nature of loops.

There is the contrast to an In&Out, where you retrace your steps, an undoing — what remains is the memory of having been.

Towards Fancy Pass (at about 12,400 ft) we have climbed above tree level and the look back offers serene desolation, while the other side is an enormous open meadow.

Our non-human animal friends are surprisingly trustful here; maybe they haven’t left paradise yet.

From Missouri pass it’s a long but gentle descent to a chain of a dozen lakes with the same name. again offering time for contemplation.

Why do I like sad faces better than happy faces?

Aren’t they more beautiful, always?

Good loop trails don’t really close. They seem to leave a small gap at the end, like a broken circle, an unfinishing.

We will come back, and try again, and again.

There is beauty in that, too.