Fire

I

The leaves rustle gently at first,

barely moving in the otherwise stagnant air.

But the wind comes, and will come again. 

Every year.

II

It’s eerily warm when

the hearty Santa Ana winds,

the december gusts, come 

to breathe full of life

limbs of dry straw.

Shrubbery sings with that transient weight;

shrubbery that won’t be here tomorrow.

III

Before the door could be closed

a delicate leaf let itself in.

Frail, yellow, brittle.

Winter boots shatter it; 

the shards driven into

the green carpet.

IV

Autumn came when no one was looking, quiet and still, 

but Winter knocked on the door.

Warm winds; loose leaves;

oak and sycamore;

helpless faces;

unpacked clothes strewn, full of life,

on the floor.

V

Fires often blow through on winds like these,

—the threat, toothsome and tangible—

but even as the wind whips

and the sparse clouds hurry across the sky,

cruel circumstance sits suspended in hot heavy air.

VI

Heavy walls went like cardboard 

big weight bearing beams became matchsticks

that snap between fat flaming fingers

recollection ripped out of picture frames

folders full of ash

crumpled filing cabinets

and melted metal memories 

a world engulfed

in wind

in the night

in warm welling eyes

in the sweltering night.

VII

Gnawing on the bones

baying at the hunt

howling in the wind

a hound of three heads sicced 

uncontrollable 

delighting in the chaos 

in pandemonium’s wild embrace.

VIII

silence settled,

the land rested.

no fireman’s boots,

no tennis shoes,

no cars,

no buildings,

no birds.

Just cold black earth,

warm embers,

warm breeze.

IX

Green growth sparsely populates the scorched earth.

Grasses, gaining ground.

But deep in the center the blackness still sits.

Telling you things are not as they once were,

Succession is a process, aching and raw;

but nothing could be so delicate and pure

as the inkling of new life

among black expanse.

X

These winds will whip 

hearts to attention

for years to come.

From: KPCC

A year like no other—2020 in review

in shuttering silence

happiness is fleeting

buoyancy is turbulent 

and the grey world deteriorates

breath is belabored

and the periphery begins to seep in

the color is fading fast 

fast

faster still than hot flames

the fury and the fire in the center

burns has burned and will burn

hot

hotter than before

but still it burns through its fuel

and the sides still fall away than the center can build back

better to be honest 

better to be free

better to seek the middle even as the edges fray

better to worry about the now than lose hope in the future

as the color fades into gray

Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

A white Christmas

Finally. After 4 months of not seeing my family, I will soon be home again. In one week I will be on a plane on my way back to Germany and I can’t even put in words how excited I am. I came to the boarding school in the U.S when I was 15. Now, this is my third year going here but every year I don’t see my family for 4 months at a time. I always fly home over Christmas break and the first feeling of stepping out of the airport in Germany is so refreshing. The cold air, the snow, and there they are. My mother, my brother, and our dog. Every year, it is the greatest feeling there is. We drive home and I see our house shining bright with Christmas lights. I open the door and I am greeted by a huge Christmas tree in the living room.

The feeling of finally being home is not comparable to anything else. I step into our garden and play in the snow with our dog. We run around and I go to the lake to see if it has frozen yet. We live close to beautiful mountains, so everyday I walk up with our dog and just sit and watch the beautiful view while it starts snowing. The next day I meet up with my best friend and we go to the famous German Christmas markets in our city. Hot chocolate, waffles, crepe, everything you could imagine for Christmas is right there. All the little shop huts are decorated with lights and snow on top of them. Christmas in Germany is incredibly special to me, and not comparable to anything else.

A beautiful Christmas market in Germany

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-8-german-christmas-markets/

For Africa

In about three weeks, I will finally return back to my second home: the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This will be my fourth time visiting the Mara and I am more than excited. While I am there, I will work on a big project for school; working with different wildlife conservation organizations as well as Park rangers that wander the park every day in search of poaching traps. The work these rangers do is incredible. They dedicate their whole life to the park and the animals that live there. I and so many other people are incredibly thankful for the work they do. Without them, the parks wouldn’t work the way they do.

But also, tourism is a very big part that makes these parks work. Many people are not happy with tourism in these wild parks and think that tourism should be completely banned. I do agree that sometimes tourism in the parks can be overwhelming, but it is such an incredibly big and necessary part of Africa. Without tourism, rangers would not be able to save the animals from poaching because the park would have no money to pay the rangers anymore. So many people would lose their jobs, and the animals would lose the protection they have from poachers. Tourism is a big and vital part of these parks.

When COVID hit, and traveling was shut down, these parks suffered immensely. The poaching numbers rose into the sky and many lost their jobs. A lot of photographers as well as myself donated money to an organization called “prints for wildlife”. This organization collected prints from hundreds of different small and well-known photographers in order to raise money to send to these parks. They were able to raise $660,200 in just one month. It was absolutely incredible to see so many photographers work together to save what they love most.

pictures by: https://www.printsforwildlife.org

A Cold Ocean’s Call

it was bitter and cold 

in the great green pacific.

and the warmth crawled out from my bones

as the words in my head slowed their swirling.

instead of going with them,

there I would sit 

socks in the sand

I kept high and dry

Always away from that wet;

I hadn’t yet felt it’s unavoidable pull

that siren’s song.

I hadn’t let the cold seep in,

I hadn’t plunged into the ocean,

But I would.

The ocean begs for our attention

it begs for big words

and soft sounds

a deft touch 

and a guiding glance

to make sure

that we

who sit in stony silence 

will be kept in time

by the rising and falling of 

the great green pacific

From: Surf Simply

My Journal

I realize I’ve forgotten about my daily planner. It’s been sitting in my desk for the past couple of weeks, leaving me to keep track of all my assignments in my head. Without it, academics have felt like one big game of whack-a-mole. I’ve been barely holding on, about to turn the lights out for the night before I realize an assignment is due tomorrow.

It can feel annoying writing every assignment down as its given. However, without an organized book to keep track of my assignments, I have felt like I’ve tuned out of academics.

Today I wrote down everything I needed to do. It’s not too much when you look at it on paper. When it’s all in your head, however, it can feel overwhelming. Just when you think you’ve cleared your agenda, another task appears. When I write down my assignments or meetings, however, I can accomplish things in a more mentally civilised way.

It is important for me to not let my own head be in charge of keeping track of things. Not everyone works the same way, but for me, writing down my responsibilities is the best way to get them done, and erasing them is very rewarding.

Image Credit:  LEUCHTTURM

Dawn patrol

This week I went surfing at 5 am for the very first time. I got up at 4.30 am and got ready. I got dressed, grabbed the wetsuit, grabbed my bag and waited for the van to pick me up. It was freezing outside but I was so incredibly excited. I always wanted to go to the beach before the sunrise and swim and surf while watching the sun rise. As soon as we arrived at the beach we put our wetsuits on, grabbed our boards and headed to the beach.

I was barefoot and we had to walk a little distance to the beach on concrete and my feet were completely frozen and in pain from walking on the hard and sharp concrete. I finally stepped on sand and immediately ran towards the water. I stayed in the more shallow spot first to just practice a bit before my teacher called me over to try some bigger waves.

After many failed attempts I finally managed to stand up for just a second before I fell but it was still amazing. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and there were many seals just swimming around us. One of them popped its head up right next to me and looked at me curiously before it dove back down.

It was my first time being at the beach before sunrise and it was a long dream of mine that I was finally able to fulfill.

https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-a-dawn-patrol-3154748

sealed with wax

When your heart breaks

Is it like melting wax

dripping and oozing concealing the facts

then stamped by a whoever your breaker may be

hardening in place

the stamp easy to see

the next person to come along

sees that the wax is not very strong

how easily the wax could crack

with a simple are you okay

could take you all the way back

the facts concealed in the wax tight letter

spill out in hopes that it will get better

your feelings are expressed

and all it did was add stress

suddenly the thin layer of wax holding you together is broken

and you wish the feelings in the letter had gone unspoken

but spoken they were

and now your life is back into its vulnerable blur

you must reheat the wax

reconceal the facts

and start a new

in hopes that the next person will be kind to you

another idea that you have is to discard your letter

there is no point in trying to get better

the feelings are shoved into a drawer

the stamp never broken never torn

later in life

when heartbreak comes back

remember that you must over come

the cracking and oozing glum

Image found on: https://www.stampsdirect.co.uk/

suffocation

grey muffled voices–

shuttered dusty white shades that don’t rotate

that don’t move,

that bend and shake as you pull the little white cord.

Never more than the briefest glimpse of light peeks through.

it’s oppressive in that warm room

the floor creeps toward the ceiling 

the walls pour in from the sides

the carpet pulls the fight from the soles of your feet

the white walls.

the relentless clock.

the viscous air.

and your feet cemented to the floor,

body still,

heart racing.

and the voices,

the walls,

the shades.

your feet that won’t move,

your labored breathing,

the creeping white walls,

and the encroaching ceiling.

from Saatchi Art

The fast five

Through my photography, I have been able to travel to the most beautiful places on this planet. But one definitely stands out to me like no other. The Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. A heaven for photographers. It is one of the best places on earth to see big cats. I have traveled there three times already, and I fall in love over and over again. Last summer I was able to observe one of nature’s seven wonders, the big migration of the wildebeest that come over from the Serengeti to find fresh grass in the Masai Mara.

Many big cats use this chance to hunt wildebeest that got injured during the crossing. There is especially one group of wild cats that are known to almost all photographers. The fast five. The fast five are a coalition of five male cheetahs. Two brothers got together with a set of three brothers and formed a coalition to hunt and live together. Nowhere else on earth can this be observed.

I have had the privilege of observing these magnificent cats hunt, and it is truly incredible. Each one of them has a special dedicated role and their hunting is extremely coordinated, I have never seen anything like it in my life. They know that they have a higher survival rate if they work together. They hunt every day and are more successful than any other group out there. I am excited to see them again on my next trip to the Masai Mara, and I hope that many others get the privilege to see these beautiful cats.

It is truly incredible what nature has up its sleeves sometimes.

picture by author