As dusk falls

I’ve recently been in Mazury, Poland’s lake district, where I’ve been helping my partner pack up her house following its sale (this is the sixth house move I’ve been involved with in little more than six years, a process of now rapidly-diminishing returns!).

The weather was mostly damp and cool, although autumn is well underway and the colours of the trees, even against a grey sky with little sunshine to lighten, are beautiful. My subject here is a small lake at Wilkasy, near Gizycko (which Germans know as Lötzen: Wilkasy has a few signs advertising rooms, with Zimmer Frei alongside the Polish Pokoje), unusually not connected by waterways to other lakes and thus with few tourist yachts and, with a shoreline dominated by swamp and mud, it is not so popular with wild swimmers either. Those in the know tell me that it is, therefore, great for fishing and there are a few small boats moored at the side of the lake. As winter sets in, and ice covers the lake sufficient to walk on, they will be frozen in, marking time until the spring thaw.

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Here, looking north, the desolation of the derelict, sunken, wooden landing stage, set against the background of the messy, untidy curve of the reed beds, the soft tone greys providing an absence rather than the presence of colour, other than the yellow hint of a set sun reflected in the water, delivers a lonely scene of a contrastingly calm stillness. To complete the picture, a rook in the forest on the far shore utters a few of its deep, evisceral KARK! calls, half-warning, half-assertive of self, as it settled into its night’s roost.

As for the soundtrack, a soft piano would seem to suit – perhaps, given the picture, the sonorous calls of Satie’s Les Trois Gymnopédies, or, to lighten the mood a little, some soft jazz. All I can think of, however, is Phil Collins and In The Air Tonight – not because it fits the particular mood I have been painting, or because I particularly like the song, but because RadioZET, our listening station of choice when in Poland, has, amongst a mix of popular Polish artists and today’s auto-tuned stars, a continuing and deeply obsessive fixation with 1980s power ballads. Think Tina Turner denying that we need another hero while Bonnie Tyler is continuing to hold out for one; think Foreigner wanting to know what love is, as well as Journey admonishing us not to stop believing (though that one also has a more recent connotation of which I’d perhaps rather not be reminded now!), alongside all the other US bands badged under what we used to know as AOR (adult-oriented rock); think the soundtracks to Footloose and Dirty Dancing. And, on this visit, think Phil Collins feeling ‘it’ coming in the air tonight. No fewer than four times in less than one week, that I am aware of, and when the radio tends only to be on for less than an hour at a time, is a little bit much to take. The 1980s, punk energies abandoned and the old guard, initially hiding behind the settee as a riot of anarchic popular vandalism took over at least the music press, starting to be confident enough to reassert itself, was (and with a few honourable exceptions) really the decade that popular music forgot. And don’t get me started on Rod Stewart, after all these years, asking us (afresh) if we think he’s sexy. But, after all, perhaps RadioZET is just en vogue. Nightmare thought.

Back to packing up stuff, I think. In a different room where my music folder might, if I’m lucky, provide me with a few new, more acceptable earworms.

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2 thoughts on “As dusk falls

  1. That was a very evocative piece. Truly felt as though I were there. It reminded me of those cold winter days into night when you’re trying to catch the last of the light, whether you’ve been out all day or just for an hour. I love those days, crisp, cold, stark, but not bleak colours silhouetted against a white/grey, pinkish or salmon, coral into almost neon pinks, then deepening blues, lavenders, purples and finally blacks that still carry tinges of some of the colours that went before.
    And I love that you use its instead of it’s. Poor punctuation still jars with me, albeit I get why I don’t type ‘phone and autocorrect and predictive text catch me out too. But I know my grammar and appreciate it used correctly. Plus, a misplaced comma or apostrophe can so alter a meaning that, well, that’s how wars, personal, professional, emotional and even the odd real skirmish start.

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  2. Thank you very much for calling in and for leaving a comment!

    Mazury is a beautiful place in the summer or the winter – though this particular week was damp and wet, limiting opportunities for photographing the autumn colours for which the region is also renowned.

    Unfortunately I can’t insert pictures into comments, otherwise I have from a few years ago in a previous visit to Gizycko just the sort of picture you describe: a tree silhouetted against a pink and indigo sky just after sunset. And ice on the lake. Boy it was cold that day! From memory, 10 or 12C degrees below. But a dry and clear cold, not damp like it is in the UK, and therefore crisp and bright.

    We all have our pet hates about grammar failures! For me, split infinitives always set my teeth on edge and repeat failures are indeed likely to result in a declaration of some kind 🙂

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