Huginn and Muninn Go on Vacation!

Once upon a time, Huginn and Muninn decided that they were all too worn out from accompanying Odin everywhere and requested a break. To their surprise, the One-Eyed Wiseman was actually quite understanding, granting them an entire week off.

So they left the snow-peaked Scandinavian mountains and headed to sunny Japan for a brief, but deserved vacation. Landing in Ueno Park and causing a bit of ruckus, disrupting the local Zoo's resident herons and geese, the pair interpreted having a relaxing time in an onsen rather loosely.

It's as if they were drunk on...wait for it...mead.

P.S. Crows, not ravens? Corvids! Close enough.

Gaze of the Snow Gorgon (Mobile)

Bundled up in an Orenburg shawl for warmth and as a secret Russian fear tactic, my ever-present coffee and dog leash in hand, I somehow ended up at the lake.

Let's try that again.

I somehow ended up at the lake:

And by "somehow" I mean that I followed a dapper basset hound, sporting a blue waterproof jumpsuit and booties, tracking deer scent.

The temperature drop must have been sudden and drastic, because the waves of an incoming tide looked like they were frozen mid-motion, then peppered over with snow. Indeed, it is as if they were instantly petrified by a Gorgon. 

At least, that is how I imagined the great Medusa's powers when I took art classes at the famous Pushkin Museum in Moscow as a child.

Although it also seemed like Medusa left a part of herself in these sculptured waters: snakes-turned-icicles. 

But not the entire lake was frozen: only the first few feet at the shore. In fact, some of the ice, more fragile than elsewhere, had cracked, and water seeped through. It was there that warmer smoky air--this glacial giant's breath--endlessly rose toward the sky. 

The Story of a Young Oak

Once upon a time, there lived an Oak. He was a young Oak, slender, but quite tall. His greatest wish was to grow ancient, wise, and become thick as quickly as possible, offering shade and comfort to weary travelers by obscuring the scourging Sun with his foliage. And some day--this youngster feared his own thoughts a little--he sought to become the site for a mythic sacrifice.   

He even posted squirrel-eye-view photos of himself on Instagram in order to appear more imposing, tagging them #Ratatoskr to get more hits to his social-networking profile. 

Like this: 

That was a little white lie, of course, since the only animal to ever climb him was a tiny baby squirrel. However, the latter stopped half-way up, and the only reason it climbed him in the first place was to escape a hysterically barking lemon-red basset hound. 

And Time the Destroyer granted his wish. It always does.

The Oak continued to collect growth rings, each new one faster than the previous, it seemed--faster than the giggling young girls in wreaths holding hands as they danced around him, spinning, sharing his adolescent desire from the ages long gone, and spinning some more.

Or maybe it was all a dream. 

A Day in the Life of the Moon

On August 15, the Moon got up early. There was a long shift ahead, and she had to work as if she were already full!

Still sleepy, the Moon appeared more pale than usual.

She hopped onto the chair lift and rode to the top of the summit. 

Luckily, the day passed by quickly, and the Moon waved "goodbye" to her Twin and her Opposite.

She continued to observe the valley as blues, pinks, and lilacs faded to black. 

Finally, solitude. 

It was then that the Moon realized: she appeared a little bit flushed. Some would even say--red. Not from anger, but rather from fatigue.

But the Moon diligently continued to light the night sky for as long as was necessary. After all, the wolves had to hunt. And their pups were getting rather big: they now liked to separate the head from a fresh deer kill and play a game of football with it! 

The End of August Gray (part ii)

 ...And then around 6 o'clock the next morning, when every self-respecting night owl should have been sound asleep, else defying its very essence, it finally happened.

The Gray gorged up too much of itself. To top that off, the growing belly ache from swallowing the Sun the day earlier was not helping either.

It exploded. 

It was then that the Sun peeked out from the blue mountain ribbons. Frankly, it was getting a little tired of going through the same exercise every few weeks with the same result.  "Sisyphean labor," it scoffed. 

The Sun was a staunch Heideggerian.

But sometimes, when no one was looking, it engaged in its guilty pleasure of choice--historic existentialist literature. Only a little! 


Then the Sun recalled that it was much higher up the totem pole than the Gray--indeed, some would say, at the very top. (The Moon always disagreed.)  So, it illuminated the valley.

Though considering the sheer magnitude of the Gray's most recent gluttony, bits and pieces of its shredded amorphous body floated over certain sleep-deprived night owls' heads for hours to come.

They were occasionally pushed over by the Wind revealing the Water. "Divide the task into manageable segments!", the Wind used to say.

August Gray (part i)

Today, the Gray visited "Twin Peaks" again.

Without much hesitation, it gobbled up the mountain. And the entire sky.

This is a little disorienting, you know. You're standing on a mountain, but there is no mountain! 

The Gray got greedy and ate the Sun, too, temporarily (the latter always burns through its belly, but it never learns). In the end, the Gray always consumes itself--when its appetite simply becomes insatiable.

Yet unlike its counterpart at the end of the rain season when everything, every blade of grass, sought a glimpse of sunlight, whereas humans were popping vitamin D, this Gray was much needed.

It hasn't rained in weeks, and now the woods will finally acquire that crisp verdant color. Nature, like a woman, must be renewed.

After all, the new Moon is coming. 


Promising myself to take a much-needed break from photography and from blogging, I nonetheless took the camera out on a dog walk for a rather predictable reason. I wanted to get some shots of the tiniest lanterns--dandelions lit by the golden hour.

Naturally, I ended up chasing a dragonfly for quite some time instead. In heels (I still maintain some of my city habits)! And with a basset who didn't share my enthusiasm (it's been 100 F / 35 C all day).  

Below is the same image repeated. I prefer the composition of the original: 

But the closeup of this beautiful monster is too good not to share:

The vibrant background colors, incidentally, were generated by the sky, the mountains, and all the plants and flowers behind the subject.

This impromptu photoshoot made me recall the diversity of myth surrounding this insect. The most popular story about it in Russia is probably that from Krylov's fables about the lazy dragonfly preoccupied only with entertainment and egotistical pursuits and a hardworking aunt. (Granted, the original is from Aesop, and is about a grasshopper, not a dragonfly.) In contrast, in Japan, the reading seems to be quite positive, with the imperial founding myth being the most obvious example thereof.  Of course, the latter is not unlike the serpent archetype in Slavic versus East Asian cultures. 

Be that as it may, my aforementioned break might have to be delayed for a while!