Looking at the Sea

fisherman's boat, umbrellas by the sea @PatFurstenberg

Where do our thoughts escape to?
The wondrous one that snick out while we languidly watch the sea change its colors? The pressing ones that run away as soon as our mind got caught in the seagull’s wing. The long forgotten ones that elope us before we even blink the sun away.
Where do they go?
Seek refuge in the seashells? Ride the foam of the waves? Or hide underneath the beach chairs only to come out again at day’s end.
To balance the fading daylight.
To relish into the solitude of the beach.
To hide between their own folk.

Last holiday I let the light slip through my fingers as we strolled along the beach. I took these pictures between 18:17 and 19:43 in Mamaia Holiday Resort, by the Black Sea.

I’ll leave you with the fading light and the sea’s ever changing face – and its secrets.

long shadows beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
straw beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
sunset beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
white beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
pink flamingo, sand castle, beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
striped beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
blue fishermen by the sea @PatFurstenberg
beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
beach umbrella and throne  by the sea @PatFurstenberg
beach umbrella 2 beds by the sea @PatFurstenberg
after sunset beach umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg
wodden swing by the sea @PatFurstenberg
umbrella and windy evening on the beach @PatFurstenberg
net covers umbrella by the sea @PatFurstenberg

Long after sunset the forgotten thoughts, and the escaped ones, plunge into the sea. As they dive right below its surface their sinuous backs from the waves we see at night, thick and sluggish. They dive in and out and, thus, the slow white crests of midnight waves are born.
Sometimes the bathing thoughts forget themselves in their merrymaking and never come out and thus, in the morning, the sea is gray like petrol and the lifeguards raise their red flag, marking a hazardous beach. For they know, they’ve seen it happening, bathers vanishing in those calm, thick waters – although no sea predators were ever spotted.
Except for sea-currents circling underneath. But you and I know; those are the long-forgotten thoughts, looming in waiting.

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Looking at Skulls in the Catacombs of Paris

Looking at Skulls in Paris Catacombes

Bones are the very last of our earthly traces and a proof of the existence of life itself. Bones symbolize that life is indestructible and they symbolize resurrection too (in Jewish tradition). Yet bones constantly remind us of our own mortality and of our feeble presence in this world.

Ahead of Halloween, I invite you to join me in a contemplation of death, life and immortality as we walk through the Catacombs of Paris.
And down we go. 20 meters underground.

A spiral staircase taking us 20 meters underground into the Catacombs of Paris
A spiral staircase taking us 20 meters underground into the Catacombs of Paris

This ossuary, containing the remains of millions of Parisians, is not what one might imagine, even after researching and viewing various images online.
A lifeless, gloomy, never-ending labyrinth. Life is suddenly a precious commodity here.
These pictures have not been altered.

A tunnel underground, Catacombs of Paris, where life is suddenly a precious commodity.
Life is suddenly a precious commodity here.

And even further we go. There is no turning back now…

The Catacombs of Paris, an underground labyrinth. No turning back now.
The Catacombs of Paris, an underground labyrinth. No turning back now.

The Catacombs of Paris are a time-travel place no one bargained for:

1876 stamped in a brick: , Catacombs of Paris officially opened to the public.
1876 stamped in a brick: , Catacombs of Paris officially opened to the public.

Feels like “Death lived there and none of them wanted to meet her that night.”

Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg
An endless pit in the Catacombs of Paris
Feels like “Death lived there and none of them wanted to meet her that night.” (Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg)

We are reminded that life goes on above the ground. Are we remembered, down here, underneath Rue Hallé?

A reminder that we are underneath Rue Hallé in the Catacombs of Paris.

The first wall of skulls and bones knocked the breath out of my lungs:

The first wall of skulls and bones in the Paris  Catacombs.

And then, this. Suddenly, a wind blasts through the Parisian Catacombs and I am chilled to the bone:

Skulls in the Parisian Catacombs

“whenever he would wake up cold and shivering, he would know he’d just felt death’s icy breath on his skin and that he escaped her again.”

Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg
Ils furent ce que nous sommes,
Poussière, jouet du vent; 
Fragiles comme des hommes. 
Faibles comme le néant. 
Paris Catacombs

“Ils furent ce que nous sommes,
Poussière, jouet du vent;
Fragiles comme des hommes.
Faibles comme le néant.”

(Lamartine)

“They were once as we are now,
Dust, trinkets in the wind;
As fragile as humankind.
As frail as the void.”

Human skull, close up - Paris Catacombs

Human bones are light ivory with a touch of brown, but when exposed to soil and natural pigments or minerals in the soil they change color.
I stand 1m 65cm tall. This mountain of human bones and skulls was at my eye level, nearly touching the ceiling of the Parisian Catacombs:

A mountain of human bones and skulls standing 1m 60cm high in the Catacombs of Paris

And further we go, quietly.

A cross in the Catacombs of Paris

Which way? Death is all around us. Overpowering.

Catacombs of Paris, a real maize

“his black robe swaying with every step like a death flag…”

Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg
A heart made out of skulls. Paris Catacombs
A heart of skulls to show the love for those departed.

It gets much darker than this:

A cross and three mounds of bones in the Paris Catacombs.

Memento Creatoris tui in diebus juventutis tuae… “Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth”

Ecclesiastes xii: 1

A forgotten anatomy lesson: a view inside the frontal and parietal bones:

Skull, view inside the frontaland parietal bones

The Catacombs are a never-ending maize. I need out.

towards exit. Paris Catacombs

“They followed on the stony path knowing it lead to a place where death ruled.”

Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg
A light shaft. Paris Catacombs
Light. Life.

Until we found the stairs going up, towards life, light and hope.

Exit, stairs going up, Paris Catacombs

Thank you for joying me.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, 5 stars reviews
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, 5 stars reviews
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Scarlet Autumn and Chestnuts

autumn with scarlet lips @PatFurstenberg

Dressed today only in russet and sepia, underneath a cloak of raindrops, Autumn painted her lips scarlet to match her passion for life.
Whoever said Autumn if full of dead lives hasn’t seen her jumping through puddles.

autumn chestnut maroon scarlet photo @artur_luczka free unsplash

The chestnut had stripped off its prickly shield for a luscious maroon and blushed a scarlet, thinking herself to be the sunset. For looking down, the chestnut thought she was the cause of the russet, parchment-like leaf…
And Autumn sighed.

autumn forest candles johannes-plenio-fee-unsplash.jpg

I saw Autumn lighting up leaves like some russet, amber and scarlet candles to celebrate the approach of Winter. The days are shorter, yet there is no loss in the Fall, but a celebration of what is to come.
For tomorrow would be nothing without today.

Perhaps Fall painting her leaves scarlet is her way of reminding us that, even in the Autumn of our lives, we are still beautiful…

Hard to think of scarlet and not to end with “letter” or visualize Autumn leaves floating away with my thoughts…
Yet scarlet, originated in the Persian saqalāt, was in Medieval Europe a high-priced, luxury, woolen cloth.

medieval scarlet a high-priced, luxury, woolen cloth. originated in the Persian saqalāt.jpg

Which autumn color is your favorite?
I hope you will return for more colors, seasonal posts and dog stories for all.

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Autumn’s crimson battle and a Ferrari

Autumn. crimson leaves and a shaggy happy dog - quote @PatFurstenberg.jpg

It has been a long, crimson battle for the shaggy warrior, but he won it. Nevertheless, the carmine bodies of his opponents, the Autumn’s subjects, littered the ground.

autumn crimson art of napping @PatFurstenberg.jpg

Drenched in memories of bloody battlefields, sentencing childbirths and sin, Crimson sank at Autumn’s feet. Hand picked by Her and entrusted with her most prized possession, her leaves, Crimson now looks up, in the symphony of life.

crimson trees

Never have the carmine or crimson colors been happier as this Autumn!

autumn happy crimsone and charmine @PatFurstenberg

Above, russet leaves, hushed tones, their veins facing the road, trembling in anticipation. In a tornado of horse power and diesel a Ferrari flashed by, crimson, as if pulled by the ray of sun caught in its glass.
And leaves, like paparazzi, followed.

And leaves, like paparazzi, followed the Ferrari @PatFurstenberg

Dating back to Roman times and the Middle Ages when it was accepted as payment, the crimson or carmine dye was first made from the body of the female kermes (Atabic qirmiz), a tiny red insect.

Carmine pigment is not very stable unless it is stored in dry place and it fades even under incandescent illumination.

Kermes (carmine) is mentioned in the Old Testament and it was used in the Americas for dyeing textiles as early as 700 B.C.

Example of carmine used in art:

Titian, ‘Noli me Tangere‘, ca 1514
Titian, ‘Noli me Tangere‘, ca 1514 – “let no one touch me.”

Titian depicts the biblical scene (John 20:17) where Mary Magdalene recognizes Christ after his Resurrection. Christ comforts Magdalen but asks her not to touch him as he will ascend to Heaven soon. Noli me tangere is Latin for “let no one touch me.”

Do return to my blog for more colors and seasons. You can subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a post.

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Autumn and a Cat with Gamboge Eyes

gamboge. autumn @PatFurstenberg

If you’re lucky you get to witness Autumn capturing the last heat of the summer’s sun in its deep yellow leaves.
Gamboge canopy.
Powdery like saffron, spicy like mustard.

Autumn. A gamboge canopy. @PatFurstenberg
Gamboge canopy

Dressed-up in her best sepia, with eyes of mustard gamboge, the cat thought of herself as one of Autumn’s leaves as she purred among amber and crimson.
Now… the bird will come.

Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves. @PatFurstenberg
Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves

Gamboge fills up my mouth when I say it. So fitting to describe autumn’s vivid yellows!

Gamboge arrived to us from Latin gambogium. It most probably has ties with the gum resin extracted from trees and used as a yellow pigment in art, trees of southeast Asia. Initially, the resin is orange-brown, but it becomes bright yellow when turned to powder.

Yes, gamboge, also spelled camboge, is family with the noun cambugium, most probably deriving from Camboja, the word Portuguese seafarers used for Cambodia in 1600. Cambodia is one of the countries where the trees producing gamboge are indigenous.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt's portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
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