Snow Patrol

Winter arrived at the Maria Valieria Bridge today and so I was able to make my first snow patrol.

Solstice

 

All the lamps beside the Bridge are firing up to replace the vanished sun; ahead of the
longest night which lies ahead.

Up River

 

The ‘Sultan’s Way’ ends at the Austrian Capital of Vienna where I arrived  yesterday,  to find the Leopold Gallery replete with its own images of the Horse Chestnut Tree. The tree itself arrived in Vienna in 1576 at the instigation of Carolus Clusius, the imperial director of the botanical gardens and today there are over 20,000 of this species living along the city’s streets. It has clearly been an inspiration to Viennese artists.

The Sultan’s Way

A sign has appeared on the horse chestnut tree guarding the bridge, which I then spotted repeated on the bridge itself and on the ‘Kat Steps’ up to the Catherdal where the path ran cold. On getting back to the studio I followed a less demanding route on my computer  to http://www.sultanstrail.com as promoted on the stickers themselves, to discover a new walk from Istanbul to Vienna.

Süleyman Kanuni, sultan of the Ottoman Empire made the journey in 1529, and then again in 1532, when he was unsurprisingly not very welcome inside the city gates. Nowadays, the website tells us, the trail is a path of peace and a meeting place for people of all faiths and cultures. It begins at St Stephen’s Cathedral in the centre of Vienna, whose clocks ‘are made of the remelted Ottoman canons. The path passes Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria and ends at the tomb of the Sultan, behind the Süleymaniye mosque in Istanbul’.

While the Ottoman armies were ultimately defeated, the horse chestnut tree which they cultivated in distant days of empire did manage to conquer the whole of Europe  – through the irrepressible force of ornamental beauty. It was documented in Austria, Hungary and Germany by the late 1590s and in England around 1600. I hope it is recognised and celebrated along the Sultan’s Way.

In Memorial

Tender & Tough

The Bridge is quite hard against  the sky this evening,  but so soft upon the water.

Essence of Horse Chestnut Tree

Boiled seed cases reduced to an essence and made into colour. Spent energy of autumn waste transmuted into a new energy of artistic creation. From the tree, to an ink, to a painting of it.

 

Lunar Surface

 

A moon recently slid slowly through the boughs of the tree in the courtyard of the residence like a luminous egg suspended briefly from a branch. Size and scale suggest questions of time and distance.  The detail of a conker recovered from beneath the same tree reminds me strongly of a lunar surface in itself.

Sounds Off

There are very few leaves left on the horse chestnut trees. Isolated on the branch, curled inward, dry and distinctly dead, they will fall easy victim to the next gust or three of wind.  None the less, they still present a precious sight against the morning sun. Surely nothing can spoil the moment.

On Thin Ice

Irridescent blue flashed from under a log and he was away along the river bank at twenty miles an hour and soon lost to sight. Kingfisher. Ruing the heavy tread of my boots that started him away,  but content to enjoy the more static patterns of very thin ice topping the Kis Duna on a misty morning.

Frost is melting on remaining leaves, the twigs and branches and falling in random patters, as particles of the sun’s light start to feel their own way to the cold ground. I’m off collecting conkers.