The sky is bright blue for a change, our bellies are full from a continental buffet-style breakfast and the air feels crisp. We’re ready to hike, in every way possible. A volcano crater had loomed on the horizon the last of yesterday’s drive, and that’s where we were headed this morning.
The ground had been slippery when we’d walked out of our room that morning, and we’d been afraid it’d be difficult to drive, but the car had proven worthy and we were speeding along the road as if it was high summer and the roads were dry. The crater looked impressive on the horizon, with its perfectly flat surface. Surrounding it were trails of smoke rising to the sky coming from the local hot springs. All I could think of was the coming hike and the views from the top. Stories about volcanos had littered my life until then, but I’d never been close to one myself and all I could think of was walking along that ridge. Pitch black dirt underneath my feet, never ending views all around. Not for the slightest moment did I think about the anxiety attacks I’d been having lately, why would’ve I?
It was our last night, we had just devoured a delicious dinner of seafood accompanied by a nice glass of wine and were hanging back in our chairs to give our bellies some space when I looked outside and noticed the stars. What if?
For a moment I hesitated but then decided to look it up regardless, we only had a few hours before our flight would leave but hell, it wasn’t as if we’d be back soon. I grabbed my phone from deep down in my bag and connected to the restaurant’s wifi. It was a clear night, I didn’t need a website to tell me that, but what I didn’t know was if there was any chance of seeing the northern lights tonight. So I opened the tab which I had kept ready for weeks and there it was. 90 percent chance.
They’d been out there on the horizon; during dawn, during dusk, present as if painted on the stretched out on the far-away as the sun begun low, set higher and then sunk again. They’d been out there, looming, daunting with a coy taunt, that slight, beckoning pull that was too soft to acknowledge in reality, but too forceful to ignore.
They’d been out there, on the horizon, whispering ‘ come, come on over’ . And so we went.
The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think. Virginia Woolf.
I draw, I write – the two processes are the same to me; they help me to understand, to make connections. I have no objection to showing the drawings, but when it comes to writing I feel I don’t have the entitlement to write. I mean, publically. I don’t know the rules, English is not my first language. I write about feelings, not facts.
Writing is personal and challenging, yet I find it very gratifying – because it helps me to understand.
I hope that by being personal I can be general too, that someone will relate and we can have a conversation.
I’m sitting on a hunter’s platform overlooking a valley. Right in the middle of it I can see what I think is the outskirt of La Roche. A river twists and bends its way through the city and then the trees and I imagine myself walking there only a few hours before. The signage hadn’t been very clear to me and I’d felt utterly lost, after a few confused looks at the map I’d picked up earlier I’d mustered my best french and asked a local man if I was going the right way. Yes, he said, and he said it with so much confidence I had trusted him entirely. A little further down the road, I’d asked another group of locals again and they had said yes with perhaps even more confidence than the first. It was probably because of that, that it took a little while before I found out, but I found out soon enough to eventually find my way looking around and behind trees and signposts. They had sent me the wrong way, I guess it’s just the tourists walking these routes and not the locals. It didn’t really matter, though, the tracks and climbs and views were just as beautiful. It was just a little harder to navigate, walking a different route from the one I’d planned in the opposite direction.
I can’t find my pen, it’s gotten dark now, but it’s ok, a pencil will write the same words. The colours of the world have changed so much in the last few hours. I didn’t even notice, I was lost in another world, flipping the pages of my book until it got hard for me to read the words. The sun had set without me noticing and with it slowly the light had disappeared. I looked up in utter astonishment, and when I did my breath was taken away. Water drops and layers of dew and steam fogged the windows. Obscuring what was outside, covering the world which was now in warm shades of red, orange and yellow where street lights were turned on and in shades of deep dark blue and purple everywhere else.
We have been hinting at it for a while and sometimes showed some sneak previews, but today is the happy day where we finally launch Hannelore Commers’ first solo publication ‘Hiraeth’ (try pronouncing that really quickly six times in a row). Because of this joyous fact, we sat down with our favourite Belgian girl and talked about photography, about growing up and about the meaning of that Welsh word she picked as the title of her latest body of work. This girl keeps amazing us, not only with her pictures but with her words as well.
“Dad?” I can hear the click of the connection that’s been made, a throat being cleared on the other side of the line. “Dad, I wish you could see this right now. I am standing on top of the Acropolis.” I listen to my father while he ruffles some papers and all of a sudden home doesn’t feel that far away any more. “Imagine those who stood there before you,” he answered, skipping the ‘hi kid, how are you’ bit of the conversation. “I just did dad, that’s why I rang you. Remember the stories you used to tell me about Socrates and Plato?” “You were very little.” “Yeah, but still. Listen, I got to go dad. I love you.” I hang up the phone and get my arse kicked by sadness. For a minute I see my father very clearly, behind his cluttered desk, his red reading glasses on the tip of his nose. I do what I always do when I feel sad, I take a picture. If my father can’t come to the mountain, the mountain will come to my father.
By Rebecca Rysdyk
The trail was virtually non existent. The sign was there, pointing at it, but all I could see was an overgrown piece of woodland, thorns in my hands, blueberries scattered around the place and foliage so thick that I could not see the sun. I walked in there anyway, only to stand still for ages on the spot where the sun came through the leafs of an oak tree that had already began to shed. I had been walking in the sun all the way up here but I only came to appreciate it in the middle of a dark forest with a burn of an overlooked nettle on my leg and a piece of fern in my hair.
Words by Rebecca Rysdyk
Photo by Théo Gosselin whom we published in issue #3
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
In the beginning, we had planned to work a month as wwoofers in the farm of a 70 years old couple, in small hamlet close to Oslo. Difference of opinions and generational conflict, we had stayed one week. After a few talks, some trees planted, a lawn-mower broken and window-panes well cleaned, we had decided to escape for the fjords of Sognfjord. This is the summary of three days of our one month trip, in a place where time seemed to pass differently.