We are so rich

My love and I sitting in the garden on a balmy October Sunday, he in the amazing new wheelchair that opens up new paths – but at the moment our garden is paradise. Surrounded by trees spun of dancing gold, a carpet of gold and flame around us, the taste of golden apples of our own harvest on our tongues, church bells and birds in the background, the hum of last bees and the glitter of a dragonfly in flight. What more could one want?
Okay, it would be nice if somebody would want to read my books now and then. But it could hardly make me any happier.
I enjoy the scene deeply, almost afraid to breathe in case that makes the moment pass faster. It is so precious, so fragile.


The crossed-out sky

Yesterday the deep blue sky was marked with huge white x-es again and again, as if humankind had crossed it out with certainty and purpose. The trails of planes rushing here and there, moving huge amounts of humans. It strikes me as funny, and slightly sad, all these people rushing about. They get nowhere far, just here and there a little on this tiny planet of ours, which is such a minute thing in our galaxy, which is only a minute thing in the universe. The sun burns on and never notices any movement on the skin of our bubble.
But it is such an amazing bubble I never get to the end of marvelling without moving an inch on it. Far below me, it’s fiery heart turns, far above me, familiar constellations burn in a gand array of silver sparks. Around me, it is a world of red and golden october glory, while the seeds blowing around me already write the stories that will grow with spring. My love’s hand is warm in mine. We breathe. We live. Why would I want to be anywhere else than right here, right now? I can think of no answer. My adventure is here.
And the crosses in the sky evaporate, already forgotten by the atmosphere, and all is clear.

The colors of Fall…

…need no words at all 🙂

September Serenity

While summer here was of a cold grey, drenched in rain and playing with grumbling storms, September has a different face. It has been soft golden glory throughout. I love the wistfulness of September, the knowledge that the days are precious and as fragile and beautifully spun as the silver webs between the dying sunflowers.

My husband’s muscle dystrophy has taught us how precious a day, an hour is. That nothing can be taken for granted: walking, eating, or even breathing. He has been in the wheelchair since before I knew him, and on the respirator for sixteen years. Yet he still works full time, seeing no reason not to. Even though or because his strength is always slipping just a little, we enjoy every single of these glowing days deeply. Often I feel we are luckier than many of those around us who are not aware of what they have, what richness a sunset is, the taste of a wild strawberry, the touch of a hand or a picnic at the lake. That amazing music always running through the moment – we dance to it in our own way, thankful for the stunning miracles surrounding us.

Very good advice

I have had trouble concentrating this summer, getting distracted and discouraged easily and wearied by the maze and tangle of daily tasks that sap time and energy from my writing. These days I stumbled upon very simple and very sound advice in the post of a fellow blogger, which was just what I needed to remind me and point me the right way again, so I copied and printed it and hung it in the middle of my project wall, just to keep me on track. Thanks, Oliver. You wanted a picture of it, so here it is:

New Stories…

I put a lot of work into my writing this summer, partly to cope with the loss of my father. Three german books are going into print. I also translated my favorite Christmas stories, which are now available as english ebook.
I haven’t had much time and strength left for blogging, but I hope to find more time for this now. The wistful and glorious magic of my favorite season, fall, calls for words, pictures and joy in both.

Here is a sample:

Treasure in the Christmas tree

Freddie Johansen scratched his head. Doubtfully he stared at the Christmas tree that stood in his low-ceilinged room like an unwelcome bum who had just come in for a moment to warm up. A complete stranger. Outside a storm growled and threw the thin blanket of snow about as if the island underneath was tossing and turning in a worried sleep.
His great-niece Nancy and her slick boyfriend had blown in like a snowdrift an hour ago, hastily pulled the tree from the roof of their car and raised it in the corner of his living room before he grasped what they were doing. They strangled it with a string of purple electric lights that flashed on and off. Then they hung outrageously fat red glass balls on the end of every branch. Freddie thought he could hear the tree groaning.
“You shall have it nice and Christmassy, Uncle Freddie,” said Nancy, hugged him tight and announced that she was pregnant and he would become a godfather in the summer. “And that’s why we spontaneously decided to go on a trip this Christmas. So we have no use for the tree after all.” Before he had a chance to say anything, they were gone.
Freddie was left with the tree. He couldn’t remember whether he had ever had a Christmas tree in his house. He allowed himself a whisky and tried to concentrate on the murder mystery on TV. But the tree troubled him. It felt as if somebody stood there, uninvited.
“What am I going to do with you?” Freddie asked of the tree. He turned off the flashing lights. But this made the tree look desolate, so he took the string off. As he hid it in a cupboard, an envelope full of worthless, brightly colored stamps fell out. Somebody had given them to him for a long gone birthday. He had never discovered why. Now he emptied them onto the table, licked them one by one and stuck them onto the huge, faceless red balls. This gave them character and he began to feel friendlier towards them. He found a handful of real wax candles in the same cupboard and fastened them to the tree with the help of ruthlessly bent paper clips. He hated electric lights on holidays. Now he felt better and was able to concentrate on the TV show in time to find out who the murderer was.
The next day was Christmas Eve. Freddie turned up the Christmas music on the radio, ate cinnamon cookies that Anna from next door had brought him and watched the warm, flickering glow of the candles. What had been so good this year that they had such reason to shine? Lately a fog was spreading in his memories. Its grey grew denser with time, swallowing the days that had just passed. He clearly remembered the taste of the raisins in his pockets in school days and the tanned knees of the neighbor’s daughter he had played with in summers more than half a century ago. But he didn’t know what he had eaten yesterday, what the weather report had said and he forgot that his friends were coming for a card game. He didn’t know what kind of summer it had been, wet or dry, warm or sunny. It had disappeared. Nothing seemed to be left of the past year but another gap in his teeth. It scared him. Freddie stretched his hand towards the nearest candle. Its warmth did him good.
Later he carefully blew out the candles and went to bed early, because his old friends Arnie and Pete were coming the next day. This time he didn’t forget because he had stuck a huge note to the door of the fridge. “Card game on Christmas!!!”
Arnie came in with his heavy tread that made the floor vibrate. The needles on the tree trembled. Arnie pointed to the garish balls with the stamps on them. “Hey Freddie, that’s great. After Christmas you can put them in the mail.”
Pete had brought ice-cream. Twenty-five portions of green ice cream. “Pistachio. It’s a bit much”, Arnie admitted, “but it was on sale. Put it in your freezer until our next meeting. It’s always empty anyway, isn’t it?”
Arnie and Pete gave Freddie an afternoon full of laughter. He forgot the fog lurking in his mind. Forgot it as he forgot other things. But he remembered their years on the herring boat when Arnie and Pete, who were younger, spun familiar yarns about them.
Later, at the door, they thumped him on the shoulder affectionately. “Well, Freddie, Merry Christmas and have a great New Year! We’ll be seeing you!” The winter night swallowed their steps. Only snatches of a sailor’s song drifted back to Freddie, who struggled to shut the weather-beaten door against the wind, thinking about their casual words.
A whole new year. Wouldn’t that be too much for him? He pushed the weighing doubt aside and hoped that the fog would at least hide that, too.
This evening he was glad of the Christmas tree’s company. They had gotten used to each other.
When he tidied the kitchen in the morning, he found the leftover wrappings of the ice cream. Each portion had been packed in a transparent plastic ball that could be opened in the middle. The halves were connected by a tiny hinge. He thought them rather nice, washed them carefully and put them in the cupboard. He seldom threw things away that might still be of use.
New Year came and went, and not long afterwards he discovered the first Easter eggs in the store.
Freddie had taken the stamp-covered balls and the candle stumps off the Christmas tree and carried it into a corner of the yard, but he didn’t have the heart to chop it up and add it to the wood pile. He thought the tree still looked green and alive. Sure, it appeared a little tired, just like Freddie felt. Its needles were bent like Freddie’s back, but they still clung firmly to the branches. Freddie began to have a chat with the tree off and on. He told it of this and that. Maybe the tree retained traces of green because it was allowed to share Freddie’s life. On the day after such a one-sided conversation, Freddie often couldn’t remember quite what he had told the tree. This grieved him.
“It’s a good thing you can’t laugh at me”, he said sadly and looked piercingly at the tree in case it dared to try. On the lowest branch he spotted a forgotten red ball covered in disintegrating African stamps. While putting it into the cupboard with its fellows he found an idea.
From that day on he sat down every evening after supper and wrote on a red, blue or green piece of paper what had been the best thing that day. Every second Sunday he made himself an especially good cup of tea, allowed himself a piece of cake from Finch’s bakery and read his notes from the past two weeks. He chose the experience most dear to him, like “Met Bertha at the cemetery and took a spontaneous walk to the lighthouse with her.” Many things he had already forgotten and was amazed at what had happened in only two weeks.
He folded the chosen note carefully and put it into one of the transparent ice cream package balls. Before he snapped shut the two halves of the ball he pulled a thread through the hinge. Then he laid it in a box marked with three huge exclamation marks. Whenever he ran out of balls he ate one of the leftover portions of Christmas ice cream from his freezer…

You will find the end of this story in the ebook above.

Words in the wind

We hear of a heat wave in the USA, while here in Berlin, Germany a cold, rainy July spits puddles around usually dusty street corners.
This morning I peered through a silver curtain of rain and saw the rocking chair in the garden moving in a serene rythm. The wind was sitting in it comfortably, telling stories to the sunflowers which were bent attentively over it by the weight of the rain. Maybe it was spinning a yarn about the winter they will never see.
The scene reminded me that often it is the silent, wordless stories that are worth listening to.

New ebook

Available now:

“Stop!” said Caretta hastily. “Don’t tell me! It won’t work if you don’t keep it secret. Just put it into the nest with the eggs.”
“Put it in the nest?” How could he do that, Daniel wondered.
“Yes, go on, just do it”, urged Caretta.
Daniel didn’t think it could work, but he didn’t want to hurt the turtle’s feelings. So he cupped his hands as if to catch water, imagined his dream into them and laid it softly among the precious eggs.
“And now fill the hole again carefully. Nobody shall know that somebody dug here”, Caretta told him.
Daniel gently shoved all the sand back into the hole. He was amazed how much there was. Then he swept away the imprints of his hands with a palm leaf. Finally he scattered some of the small shells over it that lay everywhere. Now the spot looked just like the rest of the beach. Nobody but Caretta and Daniel knew the secret under the sand. No one on this half of the earth, and no one on the other half, to which Daniel would return tomorrow.
“Now my children can grow inside the eggs, a little bit every day, and your dream will grow with them”, Caretta explained. “It will take about ten weeks. When they are all big enough, they will hatch. Then they and the dream will crawl into the ocean together.”
“What will they do there?” Daniel asked, curious.

Writing: Accidental advice

The morning gave me these tiny flowers that had fallen into the pond, blown by a night wind.
If I could write the way they look: light drifting in dramatic silence on dark, buoyed by mysterious depths, enhanced rather than dismayed by a fall, with a clear, luminuous appeal and a simple unpretentious beauty – then I would have accomplished what I have been working hard at for decades now.
I probably never will.
But it’s such fun to keep trying!

A great night music

There are Nightingales singing all around the house. It is wonderful by day, but the real magic came last night. All was fresh after a heavy spring thunderstorm, silent but for a quiet silver dripping that played in the background. The wind had strewn the paths with blossoms from the apple tree. Their white was luminous in the darkness, and the magnolias and anemones echoed the stars, nearer only and more openly grand. The smell of lilacs lay thick over the garden.
And then the nightingales began their song again.
Greatness and humbleness, sorrow and joy, farewell and welcome, hope and remembrance, all of those and more lay in the liquid, rising, drifting notes, in the whole scene, wove it into a complete, stunning music and an unforgettable moment.