I gave it a ” Go” when I read that this month´s color theme from Travel Words Life in Colouris Green. In German, its called Grün. In my native language its Berde .It´s one of my favourite color and inpiration in my Abstract paintings .I love it since it´s fresh, calming and very natural. Aside from Blue, I can´t imagine the world without the green color. I am a plant lover, nature wanderer and I find just looking at greens so Zen.
Here are some of the fascinating green moments in my travels and wanderings.
Few more weeks and its Spring here in Europe, I am sure my walks would be full of green sights again.For all my lady Friends, I wish you all Happy World Women´s Day!
Well finally, after 5 looonggg years, I finally embraced another old German tradition—der Adventkranz, or simply the Christmas Wreaths! I never bother to have one of those because I thought it´s just a waste of money.This time, I have made one for us this year, with a twist on a Plantlover´s theme since I loved candles, and of course, Plants and everything about Green nature.If you´re not from Germany, you might wonder what is it. If you live here, I am sure you will not miss this one out!
Let me share with you something about this wonderful, cozy and beautiful, another Christmas-sy tradition that Germans love!
First, let me tell you a little something about Adventkranz or Christmas Wreath. I thought that “Wreaths” are something very American and only for decorative purposes.I was mistaken because I read that even from old Egyptian myths and traditions, wreaths made of flowers are widely used in Egypt. Same thing with wreaths made of olives, pine, and palm leaves are also widely used in ancient Greece, especially after winning in Olympic games.In Architecture, laurel wreaths are also widely used as ornamental motif as well as in furniture and textiles. I realized now that most wooden furnitures have this ornament!
On the other side, when it comes to “Weihnachten” or Christmas here in Germany, Wreaths or Adventkranz holds a different meaning. A Pastor namedJohann Hinrich Wichern(1808-1881) thought of something for the children and teenagers without parents in an institution called ” Rauhes Haus“. To educate and teach them to wait for Christmas, he decorated an old cartwheel with 19 small red candles and 4 large white candles.Everyday during Advent, they lighted the small candles and every Sunday , they lighted the big ones. As time goes by, he started to decorate the wheel with green Fir.Branches of Juniper, firs and mistletoes are said to be symbol of unbroken power of life. In Philippines, we have the same tradition of putting a blessed ” Palaspas” , ( in accordance with Palm Sunday) a branch of a palm tree decorated with flowers hanged on doors to “protect” the household from “harm”.
In the early 14th century, candles also holds a significant meanings. They symbolized for new and brighter times. The red candles also signifies the color of blood that Jesus Christ shed for humanity. Things got so modern, nowadays we even have LED candles that lights our houses all the year round without the fear of something get burned.Adventkranz are normally placed in a center table and during Adventzeit, they light the candle and enjoy quiet family times. So from Hamburg, this tradition goes to other parts of Germany and now, even to the world.
As soon as November approaches and nearing to Adventzeit, Germans have this tradition . I ignored it before but suddenly it caught my attention.Almost every shop that I visited have different design of Adventkranz.And yes, they can be very expensive and I thought that its quite a pity to light up the beautiful candles!
So I decided to made one for myself, another creative DIY Project i said to myself using some materials that I already have with me.Last Saturday I went to our local weekend market and I got a glimpse of natural elements and materials.I love visiting local markets because there are really nice finds there. Look at these Golden mistletoes! They are painted real mistletoes, it costs 5 Euros and the nature wreaths are ranging from 25 – 35 Euros! Yes, they can really be expensive. From shops, they can be more because of those shiny decorations.I thought I made a handmade Adventkranz for myself with recycled materials so I can save more money!
I experimented with different designs, using different decors and motifs.This one is with a heart-shaped Christmas balls and some Poinzsettia and rose with glitters. I thought it was nice, and looked very Christmassy!
I think it is a great idea to pair your Adventkranz with the motif you have with your Christmas tree or other decorations so it won´t overload your overall Christmas decorations. I don´t like too many decorations and colors especially if you have a small space. I find them messy so I try to minimized to tone down the shimmers and I stick to neutral colors.
Since I loved plants and I have many potted indoor plants, I thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate them in a simple plant-inspired Adventkranz like this photo below.Plants are great accent to anything! It looks even more raw, natural and simple.
With a simple large round candle, a gold owl deco piece, plus a cute succulent plant in one wooden tablet, then its all set. Isn´t it uncomplicated?
What do you think of this design?
All the deco pieces that I used are already something that I have so I didn´t buy new ones anymore. I love candles, especially the scented ones so that is also no problem. Even in summer I always light them, I just love the serene feeling I got when I see the burning lights
The Adventkranz symbolizes the anticipation for Christmas. With us here, once we lighted all the candles, it means that Christmas is on the door. It works well with children, it´s like a magic show, it is a great motivation to keep them looking forward to opening their Adventskalendars and yes, naturally, the gifts under the tree! Its like a countdown to Sylvester or New Year, only this time, maybe Christmas and New Year would be a little weird!
This year, Christmas markets are already cancelled and considering the part-Lockdown we are having, we are still not sure if we would be able to celebrate Christmas with families and friends because of social distancing rules.But then….we don´t lose hope.It will get better soon.
In between high peaks and lush greens, my eyes feasted on this view. I felt so small and weak compared to the powerful force of nature. It’s so primitive and yet so striking. This is the view of the mountains surrounding the Hochgebirgsstauseen in Kaprun, the high water reservoir dams which took my breath away but then also had a sad forgotten history. As I was reading more about how these amazing Dams were built, I got more hooked knowing that it has a sad history worth telling…and should not really forgotten…Ever.
Let me tell you more why and what’s so special about this place.
The Mooserboden reservoirs sit at an altitude of 2040 meters and have a sad and dark history. First building plans were drafted in the 1920’s but it was only during World War II that they were realised. The Nazi regime forced around 4000 prisoners of war and 6300 forced foreign labourers to construct the dams. The commemorative plaque on the Pagan Church tells you that over 120 prisoners died here between 1940 and 1945. German speakers can find detailed information about the Nazi past of the reservoirs here. After the war, the dams were finished and became a symbol of post-war reconstruction, and until today many people are not aware of the dams’ Nazi past .Some just appreciate the beauty that they see and doesn’t care about the past anymore. But come to think of it, it is so great that the process of building this giant reservoirs has a sad story and that makes it even more important to know and remember history!
The Tauern power plants were originally regarded as one of the most important projects of the East-German electricity industry and were declared “preferred hydraulic engineering“. Forced labourers and prisoners of war were used to build the power station and work on the dam above it in the valley. These workers came from twenty-four (24) different nations, including Polish, French and Soviet POWs, Italians, people from the territories of the Soviet Union (‘Ostarbeiter’) and Jews. An unknown number died due to the harsh conditions, particularly in the mountain camp where the dam was being built. At one point a British air raid triggered a flash flood in which 1,200 people, half of them Soviet forced labourers, were killed.
Living here in Germany have opened my eyes for so many things. Before, I never knew in details about the victims of war and Nazi regime. Our knowledge about Germany is so limited. When I studied German, I have read so many books about it and watched many films about the dark past of Germany and sad stories about war, let alone forced labor and concentration camps.
It is no joke working hard ( deadly working conditions) up in the altitudes of the mountains. Imagine these people forced to work in winter times.
Looking at the beautiful in front of me made me feel grateful, grateful for nature, for the powerful force of the mountains, and high respect for those people who have worked hard, in worst conditions, probably even through ice cold temperatures just to build this dam. I saw lots of people around the world visiting this place and wondering about the beauty of the dam, but I wondered who appreciate the history behind it.Most of all, the story is past behind us now.No more wars.
It’s the blend of human engineering with natural creations that makes the dams above Kaprun such a special part of Austria.If I will show Austria to a friend, then I would definitely bring them to Kaprun! My daughter enjoyed playing in the playground in the Mooserboden. She doens’t know yet the story about this place.Maybe when she grows old and revisits this place then I hope she would appreciate this place as much as I did.
Can’t get enough of Kaprun? see the gallery online Here and another Post about Hochgebirgsstauseen Here.
I visited Failaka Island in Kuwait sometime during one Eid celebrations.I think I have been to almost all of Kuwait so one time, out of boredom, we booked our trip for Catamaran under Heritage tours to visit Failaka island. I love island hopping and beach getaways but a trip to Failaka is totally off-beaten.
Well,if you don’t know, Failaka is an island , 20km off the coast of Kuwait city.Before the war, people used to live there.This island was totally deserted by its inhabitants since the Gulf conflict and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.It literally looks like a ghost town, totally different from the skycrapers of the Kuwait skyline as you approach the city. If you are into war relics, desert life and archeology, Failaka might give you a pleasant experience.Of course, seeing the wild camels and eating inside a traditional tent is also a treat!
One of the memorable sights I have seen in Failaka was visiting the Heritage Houses with green windows and doors as well.In Failaka Heritage Village, there are 40 Heritage houses. Visitors who wanted to spend a day or more here can rent these houses which can accommodate 5-15 guests.
The architecture is totally different, mostly made of timber, wood and rough finish. It’s the green windows that really captures my attention since it is so simple, really a cultural heritage.Heritage house is the typical Kuwaiti traditional house, it is the norm of dwelling for local Kuwaitis since 1950’s. These vacation rental houses can’t be considered as hotel or even star awarded due to their very heritage nature.They are periodically enhanced and restored by skilled craftsmen to retain its character.
The traditional houses are the only genuine article in Kuwait and also GCC countries. They are all set into the village streets (Fereej) , all the streets and houses having their own names.Look at the shadow cast from these windows, totally enchanting.In the hot, humid summer months, the sight of green windows and doors can give a refreshing look.
Notice also that in Kuwait, the use of grills (or bars) in windows is very typical. When I saw this, I felt like I am behind bars, making you feel like a prisoner.These type of windows are called “double casement”which opens from the middle.Totally closed, maybe for functional use because of the climate.
When life was slower and simpler, these type of houses gives warmth and comfort to the locals.Placed against an earth tone wall finish, it looks like a breath of life.
I would recommend to visit this place if you are in K-town. It may not be a super attraction, but it is really a place where the past speaks louder than the sights. The war-torn almost barren landscape, the rusty war tanks, the bullet shots in every wall, and the memories of the war is actually the air you breathe.
Green color is the color of life, a symbol of renewal, of nature . Just like these windows that reminds me that out from a gloomy past, the future could still be bright, that life in Failaka can still be safe.
Also,want to know why you should not miss the sunset in Failaka?Read more Here.
How do you feel when visiting war-torn places? How was your experience?
I’m totally wide awake and my eyes are open. I know I’m not dreaming at all.But the views in front of me are good enough to put me into a trance…
For the past years, a sight of coarse landscape, browns, palm trees and arid desert- like place, now I am walking into a different path. It’s a whole new place. I thought that this green world is gradually sinking into my system. I am in a new place, in a place I have never imagined that I would be. Morning walks have been my refuge for all the metamorphosis of changes that shocking myself for the last days.
We found this field and I call it ‘Field of Dreams‘. This field of dreams is beautiful.Green is beautiful.
Today, I wanted to take a walk. I needed a walk. Just 5 minutes away and we are absorbed already by the green forests, the smell of the woods, the gentle sloshing of waters from the running waters from the River Danube and the orchestral symphonies of chirping birds.Now this has not been my cup of tea from the last 38 years of my life. Nature is a beautiful thing here in Germany I must say.
Everything is just so fresh. My soul is rejuvenated by the wonders of nature in simplest forms of forest, green tall trees, and the peaceful womb within plants, flowers,dancing squirrels, running rabbits, humming birds,and the slow-paced life here in Bavaria.
As I walked through the path with these giant green trees towering above me, I felt that the heavens are hugging me. Never have I have felt so free, so divine, so natural.People walked with their children, cycling, and running with their dogs. the partnership in nature continues.In the forest, the only thing you trust is your gut. You see the path and you just need to go forward.On my first walk in the forest just within Luitpoldpark, I don’t know where the path will lead me. It’s like walking into an unknown territory and your defenses are down. You just let nature guide you.
This feeling is similar when I am facing big changes in my life.Walking further, inhaling the soft winds that blew on my face , taking one step at a time, and allowing my inner spirit that leads me to a wonderful discovery of another beautiful world.This is what I called walking into the field of dreams. It takes courage to take that first step to make it all come true.But this is all worth it.
Have you ever given up on your field of dreams?
Here’s an honest confession , I have never seen a pine tree like this in my whole life.I have always love how we adorn our Christmas tree and I thought, how it would feel to run my fingers through its leaves ? to smell its raw scent? Pine tree with pine cones in it, I thought I would always need to buy it from the shop, painted & with glitters.
Dreaming is something else, but to walked into that dream is another story as well. Seeing these simple things from nature really made me happy. Happiness for simple things, no filters, no explanations needed. It should be like that. It doesn’t need to be complicated to find happiness in everyday life.
I truly believe that there is no proper substitute for nature when it comes to its benefits to a growing child and to adults in general, but here in Kuwait, we find ways and we found one gem right in the middle of Salmiya where you can find this beautiful humble Tree. I called her “Tree of Humility “. Upon spotting her, I immediately transformed into a Zen state of mind. In my daily quest to find beauty in everywhere, I was rewarded with great solitude upon gazing and meditating under this Tree. There’s no other way that I can look at trees the way I find wisdom in nature.
I wanna share with you 4 Life lessons I’ve learned from this “Tree of Humility “.
Bend but don’t break. Be flexible yet firmly rooted.The body & the trunk of this humble tree is hard and firm and yet her leaves sway gently in the breeze while their trunks stay rooted firmly in the ground below. Their foundation is solid even though they move and sway harmoniously with the harsh winds, sandstorms & dust, never fighting against it. In time, even the strongest wind tires itself out, but this tree remains standing tall and still. A bend-but-don’t-break or go-with-the-natural-flow attitude is one of the secrets for success whether we’re talking about trees, answering tough questions in a Q&A session, or just dealing with the everyday vagaries of life.
2.Remember : What looks weak is strong.– Remember the words of a great Jedi Master: “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?” We must be careful not to underestimate others or ourselves based only on old notions of what is weak and what is strong. You may not be from the biggest company or the product of the most famous school, but like this tree, stand tall, believe in your own strengths, and know that you are as strong as you need to be.
3.Find wisdom in Emptiness – It is said that in order to learn, the first step is to empty ourselves of our preconceived notions. One can not fill a cup which is already full. The hollow condition of this tree during the hottest months in Kuwait reminds us that we are often too full of ourselves and our own conclusions; we have no space for anything else. In order to receive knowledge and wisdom from both nature and people, we have to be open to that which is new and different. When you empty your mind of your prejudices and pride and fear, you become open to the possibilities.During the barren months of summer, this tree is humble, yet resilient enough to endure the heat. She understood that spring soon will come and the day she will blossom once again.
4.Commit to continuous growth -speaking of Kaizen or continuous improvement that is more steady and incremental, where big leaps and bounds are not necessary. Yet even with a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, our growth — like the growth of this humble tree — can be quite remarkable when we look back at what or where we used to be. Even though this tree is just there in the park, nobody really see its growth everyday. We too, even when we are making progress, may not notice our own improvement
Most of us respond to the presence of trees beyond simply observing their beauty. We feel serene, peaceful, restful and tranquil in a grove of trees. We are “at home” there.A tree can add music to your life by attracting birds and other animals.Sound waves are absorbed by tree leaves and branches. A belt of trees 100 feet wide and 45 feet high can reduce highway noise by 50 percent. Prolonged exposure to noise can cause hypertension, higher cholesterol levels, irritability and aggressive behavior.
So on your next trip to the park or along the line of trees in your neighborhood, take time to adore, take time to ponder. Take time to be Humble.