Fall is coming

My favourite season has finally arrived! With uncommonly warm days, and golden leaves all around.

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I went for a walk with a group of friends on the hill between Wannsee and Sacrow lakes, it was such a wonderful, warm day, we even considered swimming! But we only dipped our feet in water.

I also resumed baking after a break of almost four months. I chose the Weizenvollkornbrot recipe (wholegrain wheat bread) from my dear Brotbackbuch:

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In a few days it was gone! I’m already preparing bread #70, stay tuned for more details 🙂

That’s all for now, more updates to come in future posts!

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At the natural history museum: the fine line between nature and art

I was this morning at the Naturkundemuseum in Berlin, and I admired once again the skull of the T-rex Tristan Otto. It was displayed under a set of lights that made a fascinating play of light and shadows on the dark fossilised bones.

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While I was drawing, many people of all ages ran to the display and stood in awe, observed it from different angles, took pictures, then moved forward for the visit. It is definitely a magnificient finding from a scientific viewpoint, as well as a visually appealing object. My mind first identified as a dinosaur skull, therefore as the remain of an animal who lived millions of years ago, when the Earth looked much different, there was no man, but the oceans and trees and reptiles and insects and all life, and the moon and sun above; but with time, while drawing, I started to see it as a sculpture, as a piece of art, as a monument to the exquisite art of chiseling, glorified by light – up to the extreme of flattening it onto paper, as an interesting set of shapes, lines, angles, proportions – abstract, essential, distilled.

These two viewpoints are valid for any other specimen in the exhibition, and for me, for everything I can see.  I sometimes stop and marvel over an accidental composition on my way home, or a ray of light. I went to the museum to see Tristan Otto, and I enjoyed the whole visit, but did I enjoy it only because it was carefully organised, cleverly connected, and artfully displayed, or because it had value in itself? Did I admire the most colourful animals because they are artistically pleasant? They did not come to life with the purpose to be ambassadors of the beauty of wildlife, but they can still be considered as such: through their beauty, they can awaken our admiration and make us want to protect them from threats and extinction. I feel a bit uneasy with this thought, however, because I’m afraid that what is not beautiful, or not attractively presented, does not get that much attention. I understand that attractive presentation is an essential feature of many human creations and activities, but I feel uneasy applying it to everything, especially to what has no power in improving its appearance.

Raining, finally

It finally rains again, after a very dry summer. It seems that autumn has arrived suddenly, yesterday in the space a few hours: sudden rain, wind, clouds, temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Celsius. It made a refreshing changement and a few evenings with wonderful skies.

I have impatiently waited for autumn, as I do almost every year. Now that the weather changed, I feel a new energy, the one I remember from my childhood, when autumn meant going back to school: new books, new topics, new pens and pencils, warm clothes, quietness indoors. I am ready to celebrate autumn and new beginnings, with the joy that others associate with spring and the rebirth of nature. I celebrate the red and gold of falling leaves, the arrival of autumn groceries (I love pumpkins!), the coziness of staying indoors and taking care of the house, the joy of getting ready for winter, when nature stays dormant for many months. Autumn is for me the bountiful harvest at the end of vegetative season, the fireworks of nature, a season of bright light.

Quick update

It has been a while since last post, thanks to a bit of vacation, an internet-free break before the upgrade to the new contract, and some good bits of offline progress. I’ve been reading insightful books; I have baked a few breads despite the scorching heat, which greatly helped the leavening process; I’ve been drawing more, and am preparing a significant announcement about my artsy activities… stay tuned for next update!

Green thumb

The hot weather is boosting plant growth on my balcony, where I’m keeping a cucumber plant and a larger flower pot with a (now flowerless, but otherwise adorned with small light blue flowers) Asteria, parsley, wild flowers, and an enthusiastic ginger shoot:

I managed to grow a ginger plant on my balcony in Trentino, thanks to the good exposure to the south that gave it plenty of sunshine. Here I was initially skeptical, but despite not getting that much light, the shoot has grown a lot in a few days and has opened two new leaves. Let’s hope it keeps growing!

The two cucumber plants were a bet as well, first because I knew they would need to grow a lot in height, and I solved this by letting them grasp the sides of the window frames and pruning the tops; they are otherwise green and flowery, and have already provided one tasty fruit! A few more are in preparation, I hope to harvest them soon 🙂

My house is otherwise not so plant-friendly due to the minimal amount of sunlight, but these plants do thrive. I hope it encourages you to try gardening on your windowsill: no matter how small your garden is, it motivates you to spot all little improvements, the tiniest new sprout or leaf, and will reward your constant attention with pretty leaves and flowers!

 

 

 

Learning a new language and culture

As I learned German very late, I missed the opportunity to absorb culture together with language, as I would have done in kindergarten and in school and in everyday life, were I born in a German-speaking place. I notice this gap when I write in cursive, when I sing children’s songs, when I use proverbs and figures of speech – they all come from Italian culture. I’m trying to bridge this gap by reading childrens’ books in my local libraries, and it’s always fascinating. Especially history books that -of course- center on another country. In my mind, history is so deeply connected with the history of my country that I first have to find connections with my own knowledge in order to properly place the events of German history on the time-line.

That’s why I think I can profit from childrens’ books and in general from books-that-explain-things rather than just a dictionary. With only word-to-word translations I would not get the culture inputs that I need to feel more integrated here. On the other hand, some books take their time to explain concepts that I know already, and don’t require that much attention from me. This is in converse the most concentrated and captivating collection of culture insights I picked so far:

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Source: m-vg.de

It’s a collection of German idioms, described in their meaning and origin in a short paragraph. Many expressions come from the past, and cite knights, ancient arts and crafts, farming, commerce, construction, old administrative structures. I liked how it gave me another angle of the German culture, not directly like in an history museum or book, but indirectly through many bits and pieces that survived in today’s language. My favourite is “Alles in Butter!” which means “All is OK/safe!”, and comes from the times where merchants transported fine glass manufacts from Italy to Germany, across the Alps on carriages. The risk of breaking would have been very high, if the merchants did not submerge the glasses in liquid butter, then let it become solid and protect the fragile objects from any shock. At destination, the butter was melted again and the glasses taken out and cleaned. Clever and effective!