At the end of 2013, I listed my 13 instants for the year. I continue to be fascinated by how we look at the world in square format in contrast with 4-by-3 or 3-by-2 formats. It’s not exactly the throwback to a distant past with square photographic plates, but the same physical and photographic principles regarding central symmetry apply. Here are 14 ‘fotograms’ from 2014, including a new 6D, watching my father die, and a return ‘home’ to Deutschland.
Short sensory list
• Sights of the Weihnachtsmarkt: bright lights; Christmas pyramid; red and yellow stars; unveiling of the Backwaren (backed goods) made especially for the holiday season.
• Sounds of the Christmas market: the klang of full mugs distributed and empty ones collected, shouts of laughter from conversations scattered throughout the area.
• Smells and tastes of the Christmas market: candied almonds, cashews, and peanuts; roasted chestnuts; balls of fried dough with powdered sugar; mugs of hot mulled wine, available in several fruit flavours; grilled bratwurst; fried potato pancakes with apple sauce.
When the Christmas season brings out special baked goods, it’s time to pay attention. In Heidelberg, my favourite café in the university town doesn’t hold back as photos of the “Backwaren” (baked goods) show. There’s something for everybody at Café Gundel.
And on it goes: small lifetimes can be spent, seeing, smelling, and sampling the entire collection.
It sounds like an unusual pairing, for science and Christmas to come together in a place called Anatomiegarten, or Anatomy Garden, in the German university town of Heidelberg.
During the Christmas season, the Anatomiegarten is host to one of the key Christmas market locations along Heidelberg’s main street (Hauptstrasse). Prominent are two names from a historical and scientific perspective: Bunsen and Kirchhoff.
In 2001, I moved across the big Atlantic pond from Canada to Germany. Knowing only “bitte” (please) and “danke” (thank you), I flew sight unseen to Frankfurt am Main, followed by a shuttle-bus to the German university town of Heidelberg. I would live and work in Heidelberg for two years, and I couldn’t have known the experience would change my life.
Heidelberg is a favourite “hometown” which includes many memories of firsts.
I’m always happy to be back in the German university town of Heidelberg, a place where I lived and worked as a research astronomer for 2 years.
Like many times before at the Heidelberg Christmas market, I’m happily immersed under bright coloured lights; a mulled wine in hand, standing next to the giant Christmas tree at Marktplatz; swimming in the sea of smiling residents and visitors, young and old; munching on grilled steak, Bratwurst, and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) with apple or garlic sauce; nibbling on Marzipan, Stollen, and Spekulatius; and washing all of it down with more mulled wine …
The photos show scenes at a number of markets along the Hauptstrasse (main street). From west to east, Heidelberg’s markets along the Hauptstrasse are at:
- Bismarckplatz (Bismarck Square, B)
- Anatomiegarten (Anatomy Garden, A)
- Universitätsplatz (University Square, U)
- Marktplatz (Market Square, M)
- Kornmarkt (Grain Market, K)
- Karlsplatz (Charles Square, C).