Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The great amber-hunt

We have Ane’s mum Inge visiting at the moment. Tristan and I went to pick her up at the airport last Thursday, and I took a few shots while we were waiting. Here are two of them.


It is amazing what a difference the presence of a grandmother can suddenly make in one’s life. I can make dinner or wash up without a 20-pound child hanging around my neck, the laundry gets hanged up in the basement before it dries inside the washing machine and it is even possibly to steal away for half an hour to check emails or write a blog entry. Inge even offered to do a bit of baby sitting so that Ane and I could get to the cinema - only the second time since Tristan was born. We saw Gomorra, the Italian Mafia / Camorra movie everyone's talking about and which harvested all the major prizes at the European Film Awards a few weeks ago. The film was great; really harsh and completely lacking the cheesy gangster romantics and glamor that Hollywood normally throws over the subject. It really shows you the vast devastation across the whole society that this type of criminality can cause. I particularly liked the cinematography: hand-held cameras, lots of focus-shifts, really dark scenes among the desolate semi-ruins of the Naples housing estate, which is really made to look like the worst place to live on earth (which it probably is).

Winter, at last

Yesterday we had the first (and possibly last) real winter day of the season. When we woke up, the town was covered in an inch of snow, and later it turn out to be the most beautiful day with sunshine, only temporarily disrupted by liberal scattering of picturesque clouds. Inge and I took the opportunity to drive to Lyngså on the east coast to look for amber on the beach.


Finding amber is not easy. It requires patience, luck, and, according to a common Danish belief, a special sense that one acquires only by starting out as a child. Some would even claim that being a great amber-hunter runs in the family – but I’d rather not get into that. Since the likelihood of finding amber on the housing estate in Hungary where I grew up was extremely slim, I will probably never make it in the amber-hunting trade. My record so far is nothing to brag about: over the years I think I’ve found about five pieces in all – although two of them were rather large, earning me 10 minutes fame and admiration in the family.

To be honest, finding amber is not something that gets me going. I just don’t see the fun in strolling along the beach at a snail’s pace, bent forward, steering at the sand and poking it from time to time with a stick (see below). For me the point of being by the sea is actually watching the waves, the sky, the dunes, the birds, and, possibly, the female sunbathers (who were regrettably very scarce this February morning).

Apart from luck, patience, that special sense and possibly the genetic component, it also helps if there is actually amber on the beach. This is most likely after a proper storm, when the waves throw up pieces of various sizes onto the beach. As the weather had been rather dull earlier, we didn’t find anything apart from a relatively small piece. A rather meager harvest after a day’s work, you might say – but the sun, the sea, the silence and the total luck of people made it absolutely worthwhile – in spite of the lacking topless sunbathers.

More pictures here.