Back Down to Earth

There is freedom in cutting loose one’s bonds to float high above the rest of the world.

To be quiet, and alone in one’s thoughts.

It is a space and place that I do sometimes share.

Just when I find myself adjusting to the elevation…

…and the solitude…

Just when I start feeling too comfortable, too removed…

…I feel a tug on the heartstrings that brings me back down to earth.

Sometimes it’s as simple as discovering on my front walk a baby bird that needs to be returned to its nest.

More often it is my own baby birds, coming home to roost.

Even just for a little while.

All words and images c2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Above.

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Yellow

Purple is my favorite color, and it always has been.  But I love yellow for its cheerfulness.

It’s my daughter Bea’s favorite color.

And she wears it well, don’t you think?

She isn’t the only one.

Whether yellow comes as a tasteful accent…

…a warm background…

…a pleasing bit of contrast…

…or a big splash of color…

…Ma Nature wears it well too.

…and so do her children.

We’ve borrowed this sunny hue from nature to brighten our homes on the outside…

…and on the inside too.

It shines a cheerful light through the darkness…

…and lifts our spirits.

It warms us from the inside out.

Yellow comes in many eye-catching colors and goes by many names…goldenrod, schoolbus, taxicab yellow…

Maize, saffron, lemon…mmm, yellow never smelled so good.

 Yellow means different things to different people.  Does this signal mean approach slowly?  Or go very very fast?

It might depend on whether you’re coming…

 

…or going.

Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Never mind.   That’s neither here nor there.

Want to dance?

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow.

A Celebration of Fenestration

The Latin word for window is “fenestra.”  The old English word for window, “eagbyrl,” means “eye-door.”   Just like a door, it can be used for peeking out…

…or peeking in.

Whether you are looking in or out, there are so many things to see, just behind the glass.

The earliest windows were holes in a wall.

Narrow slits, to let in a bit of light with the cold air or to shoot an arrow through.

The ancient Romans were the first to use glass.

Then came windows of animal horn or hides, cloth, and in the Far East, even paper.

The Inuit people say, “Don’t let the window of your home be so small that the light of the sun cannot enter.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said people are like stained glass windows.   They sparkle and shine when the sun is out…

…but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed.

In the Ukraine they say you don’t really see the world, if you look only through your own window.

And what a world there is out there to see!


There is another old saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”

…and one that says a smile is a window on your face to show your heart is at home.

The world on either side of your window can be sad…

…distant…

…daunting…

…and scary.

All the more reason to let the light in.

Let your window’s light shine like a beacon…

…and reflect upon the beauty of our world.

All the windows of the world!

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow.

My Turkish De-light!

Two of my favorite things in Turkey…

…and…

The more the better!

Eye candy!

Sky candy!

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Luminous.

Click here for more interpretations of Nancy Merrill’s A Photo A Week: Smooth.

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination.

All words and images NaomiBaltuck

Turkey, a Land of Light and Shadow

Turkey is a land of contrasts–modern and ancient, Eastern and Western, light and shadow.

Everywhere we went, people welcomed us warmly.

We saw ancient churches and mosques, and magnificent palaces.

Cappadocia, in Central Turkey, was the home of the Hittites, nearly two thousand years B.C.E.

Uncle Mustafa guided us through an underground city there.  The ancient Hittites had carved eight levels of tunnels in the soft volcanic rock.

The city served as a shelter in case of attack, with stores of food and water to feed 5,000 people for three months.

Then we saw Cappadocia from above, in a hot air balloon…

We swam in the Mediterranean off the coast near Antalya, and ate fish caught from the back of the boat for lunch.

Near Konya we visited Tinaztepe Magaralari, a cave with underground lakes.

At Hieropolis, we soaked our feet in the hot springs where Cleopatra and Marc Antony honeymooned.

In Istanbul we visited the Byzantine Cistern, built by Emperor Justinius in the 6th century.  It’s a huge underground stone forest built with recycled Roman columns.  It was the size of two football fields, and held 57 million gallons of water.

A cruise on the Bosphorus took us past this fortress.

The Bosphorus divides Istanbul, a city of 17 million.  One side is in Eurupe, and the other in Asia.  This bridge joins one continent to the other.

Kusadasi was a lovely harbor town, where we could watch the sun set from our balcony each evening.

They say the beaches of Gallipoli are haunted by ghosts from the disastrous war between the British and the Turks in 1915.  Many New Zealanders and Australians were called in to fight for the British.  Nearly everyone we met there was either a Kiwi or an Aussie.

After a tragic waste of human life on both sides, the British and their allies withdrew.  Eli and I visited British and Turkish cemeteries; both were heartbreaking.  A few years ago, one of the few survivors of the 57th Turkish Battalion returned to the site at the age of 108, with his great granddaughter.  This statue commemorates their visit.

I don’t know when I will see the sun set over Turkey again, but I am already looking forward to the day.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette.

Sky Candy

Most of my adventures are the gentle sort.  I won’t be climbing Mt. Everest, or even Mt. Rainier in my lifetime.  I have zero interest in bungy jumping, roller coasters, or even in riding the London Eye.  And I always said they’d have to pay me to get me into a hot air balloon.

So how did I find myself in Turkey, in the wee hours of the morning, on my way to my very first hot air balloon ride?  My son Eli really wanted to go, and as I get older, I find myself experiencing more “What the heck!” moments.   At 5:30AM, I got into a van with sixteen other people.  The vehicle was lit by an eerie red light, as if we were about to be launched into some weird sci-fi adventure.

We arrived at dawn, with the balloons still being filled with hot air generated by propane gas.

It was hard not to imagine them as living creatures, struggling awkwardly to their feet like a camel.

I was privately terrified, but climbed into the basket along with Eli and the others.

Our captain’s name was Mustafa.  Mustafa said he’d had to go to the US to get his training, and he’d been doing this for eight years.  He had shiny gold epaulets on the shoulders of his white uniform, so I listened carefully when he told us there were only two rules.  The first was to remain in the basket at all times.

The second was what we should do upon landing.  We were to grab the rope handles on the inside of the basket, hold tight, and lean away from the ground when the basket went scudding across the landing spot.   I’d always envisioned balloons at the mercy of the wind, floating above a flat landscape, coming down wherever the wind took them, retrieved by trucks that followed behind like tornado chasers.   But we were in Cappodocia, a land of many valleys, and strange rock formations.

Where would we even find a flat place to land?

The beast roared, and I felt its hot breath upon my neck.  The captain loosened the reins…

…and we were airborne.

The sky brightened, and we saw balloons rising everywhere, like at a party or a parade, where scores of  balloons are released at once.

 Slowly, gracefully, we glided on the air currents.

I wasn’t at all afraid.  I sensed only calm and wonder. The landing might be rough, but I was living in the moment, taking in the colors…

… and the scenery.

I watched other balloons glide above us…

…or below.

They were like gentle ghosts…I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better….

…the sun rose in a burst of color and light.

The valley was flooded with a golden warmth…

…and the windows in the village below glistened like diamonds.

 

When it was time to land, I watched as Mustafa used bursts of hot air to lift the balloon over each new ridge.  Once he radioed another pilot for his visual take on our position in relation to a particular outcrop.  The pilot assured him that we could clear it.  At first I was disconcerted, but I do the same when I am parallel parking in a tight spot.  “Eli, stick your head out the window and tell me if I can get past that car’s fender.”

The wind was not cooperating, and our hour in the air stretched out to an hour and a half as Mustafa maneuvered the stubborn creature, but he clearly knew what he was doing.  We came to a plateau, where I recognized our crew of balloon chasers, and prepared for impact.

The captain lowered a long sturdy rope, and used what he called his “three horse power” landing gear, his three crewmen to haul the balloon while Mustafa kept us just high enough off the ground for them to maneuver the basket toward the truck.

It was skillfully and artfully done, a perfect landing, directly onto the trailer. After disembarkingwe found a surprise awaiting us. The breakfast of champions!

This experience was life-changing for me, as if a switch inside me turned on to the world’s possibilities and opportunities.

I probably won’t climb Mt. Everest in my lifetime, but I might yet take a ride on the London Eye.