Saturday, 31 January 2009

Close encounters

Last summer, as we were in the US North East Coast, we booked for a whale watching tour departing from Portland, Maine. I was very excited about it, because I've read that you are probably never going to forget the first time you meet a whale. You cannot take your eyes off of them, of their blowing breaths, of their majestic flukes as they dive.


Meeting wild animals is always an experience to which we react with an inexplicable joy. This last December I read a very interesting article by Stefan Nink on the Lufthansa Magazin (12/08) that talked precisely about this joy, about what happens when encountering a wild animal in the nature. Nink writes: "[...] Encounters like these hold us spellbound and are fixed forever in our minds. Perhaps because they help us recognize what keeps the world going. Because, for the space of a moment, we have glimpsed something of ourselves."

He goes on to identify the cause of such reaction: "Psychologists can explain why encountering animals in nature affects us so profoundly. Humans, they say, are burdened with a permanent, subconscious regret at having cut ourselves off from nature as we evolved. That's why we experience such joy when we unexpectedly meet an animal face to face. They also say that part of our consciousness recognizes an ancient relative."

Reh Pardal
Igel Contrallum

I have been lucky enough to have met a number of wild animals. Living so close to the nature, it is relatively easy, but not a bit less intense. There is something about watching animals in the nature that produces in us the same magical attraction that fire does.

Nink finishes his article beautifully: "Sometimes animals seem to have something that humans no longer possess, seem to know something nobody else does, except perhaps the wind. Sometimes we sense something of their power and superiority. Like when we look into the eyes of a lion or a tiger, or when, while hiking in South America, the sky momentarily darkens as the shadow of a condor passes overhead. This type of encounter is like a mystery revealed, and it will often make you feel as if the finger of creation had gently tapped you on the shoulder. An encounter like this may make you think about just how we humans treat the world, and if it wouldn't be a better place without us."


So, back in Portland, Maine, we were all set for the whale watching tour. But unfortunately, some twenty minutes after leaving the port, the captain decided we had to turn around and get back to port.


There was way too much fog to see anything...

Sunday, 18 January 2009


A particularity of the German language is that many words are self-describing: they use Kühlschrank for fridge (lit. "cool cupboard", with the same translation on the Austrian version Eiskasten), or Ladegerät for charger (lit. "device to charge").

And sometimes, this self-describingness takes a lyrical level that I love. Today's word is one example: Wortschatz, meaning lexicon, vocabulary, literally translates to treasure of words.


And which better treasure could we think of than words?

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Some say that coincidence does not exist. But how do you explain getting a 33€ bill exactly on the day that you turn 33?


Anyhow, the highlight of the day was my new Eierpicker, in order to never have a broken boiled egg again. Isn't it cute? ;)