Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Two Swans Meeting on the Jung Frau"

Victor Hugo

I know there are no swans in this picture, but the picture gives me the same feeling as the quotation from Victor Hugo.

Maybe because -- it's soft and far away.  The colors are so muted, and it looks so indistinct.

I did that to it, of course. It was a perfectly fine picture before I meddled with it.  The light was exquisite coming through the sheers and falling on the lighted lamp.  The piano was ebony and dominated the picture.  Even the oriental rug with its bright reds was visible.

But I cut  that all out, softened the focus, gave it an old fashioned color, darkened the edges, and framed it, before typing the quotation from Hugo at the bottom, using the ebony of the piano so the letters would stand out.

Now, for whatever reason, it has the pristine quality of "two swans meeting on the Jung Frau." (The Wikipedia spells it Jungfrau, but I like it better with two words.)

The Jungfrau, the highest elevation in the Berenese Alps, situated between the Valais and Bern, in Switzerland, is sometimes called "the Top of Europe."  And it certainly seemed so when I was there with Ed and Wynell (I forget how many years ago).  We rode the train from Wengen and stayed the night in an inn in Grindelwald.  The next morning, Ed wanted to go to the Jungfraujoch.  "You go ahead," Wynell and I said.  "We're staying here."

But somehow he managed to get us both to the top, protesting all the way.  Then he and Wynell visited the glacier, while I stopped in the cafe and had a tea, trying to quell the dizziness from the combination of the altitude and my disgust at my own lack of self-assertion to let myself be convinced to do such a thing when I knew, not only that I wouldn't like it, but that I would hate it.

I had been to the top of mountains before, so had Wynell.  We took our girls, Lane and Abbey, when they were 12 or 13.  They made snow balls and played with all the other youngsters.  Lane wanted to stay at the top and slide down on sleds with the others, but I held on to her as I got in the elevator that would take us back to the bottom and my own comfort zone.

I only like mountains, standing at the bottom looking up at them.  Then I can appreciate their majesty.  But at the top, they are cold and forbidding, devoid of life, only snow and ice and wind.  Ugh!  All my complexes are activated by the cold.

But I digress.  "Two swans meeting on the Jung Frau" is the perfect image of the pristine:  pure, fresh and clean, unspoiled by civilization.  In German, a jungfrau is a maiden, a virgin.  Unspoiled.  Swans, of course, look pristine, gliding around on a lake, but they are, in fact, mated, mated for life.

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