Climb to the Sky

Incontrovertible evidence of how closely tied to nature humankind thankfully remains is displayed in the association of our emotions or moods to weather conditions.

Blue skies have Pam bouncing around the apartment, ready for action, by the time I awaken. The flat greys of the past few days banished.

‘C’mon’ she urges ‘today is our chance to walk up Mt Srd like we planned, there is not a cloud in the sky’.

After a quick fruit breakfast and hasty application of anti-inflammatory cream to take the edge off my knees I am ready to match her enthusiasm.

In the time between sunrise and our departure, the cloudless skies Pam had awoken too have begun to be covered, thin clouds are blowing in from the Adriatic Sea to the South.

Exiting Dubrovnik Stari Grad via the North facing Buza Gate has Mt Srd still framed in glorious mood elevating blue.

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Taking the route we had determined as best on our New Years Eve exploration we walk across the roundabout beside the fire station and begin climbing the staircase that will take us to Gornji Kono.

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Following this narrow walking street with its occasional little flights of stairs brings us to Ul Pera Bakica where we cross, turn right and then soon find the narrow stairs that bring us to the little cul-de-sac that leads to the last road we need to cross.

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No traffic, no tunnels, no worries.

Let the climb begin.

The few nondescript flat concrete stairs lead us into the shadows of the tree line. We turn right.

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It is like we never left the Camino, rough rocky stairs, stony ankle turning paths.

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Glorious.

The path zigzags up through the trees.

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‘Onwards and ever Upwards’ I intone my battle cry.

Low stone walls that I am so fond of hold the mountain side soil in abeyance above us.

We twist and turn our way along the stony path feeling happy that at least some of the fitness level we had attained on the Camino has survived the indulgence of our wonderful time in Croatia.

Below us the Old City and its surrounds are occasionally exposed, framed by branches.

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Above us, trees become lower and less dense, sunlight dapples the undergrowth.

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Close to where the zigzagging trail breaks free of the tree line we come across a bronze relief depicting a biblical scene mounted atop a stone wall.

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This bronze relief is placed at the corner where the stony gravel path turns and climbs. Looking up the path ahead we see another plaque placed on a stone wall at the next corner.

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‘Perhaps they have been erected at each corner as a reward for effort’ Pam chimes in answer to my questions as to their purpose.

Like the song goes ‘Art for Art’s sake’.

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From here to the top each corner is adorned with a bronze Roman numeral numbered religious relief I – XIV (1-14).

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Despite the ever increasing cloud cover coming in from the south the views are stupendous.

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At number 14 we turn left for the last time on our ascent. The walls of the Fortress Imperial up and to our right indicate our climb is nearly done.

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Today we are going to enter the museum dedicated to the Homeland War however I am very keen to get some photos from the top of Mt Srd while the blue skies remain.

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We climb the last ridge to the area where the defensive trenches remain for another shot of the poignant small wooden cross and supporting stone cairn against the skyline.

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Pam is keen to have a cup of coffee and I am keen to catch the last of the disappearing blue so while she goes into the Cable Car cafe I head off down to the large White Stone Cross to the East of the cable car terminal.

Cloud cover casts an eerie penumbra like a halo around the cross.

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Down the hillside an Asian tourist with some very expensive looking camera equipment is climbing the white rocks in search of optimal photo locations.

Having previously tried this myself I can see he is taking the hard slow route, I descend using the road instead then cut across the rocks and beautiful undergrowth to the cliff face where I know the best views of the Old City below are found.

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Today in my quest I go much further lower than before, I am so focussed on photography that I am surprised when I look back upwards again and see how far I now have to climb to get back.

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Back on the road a chemtrail from a passing jet almost perfectly aligns with the rocket shaped communication tower.

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Sunlight and shadow highlight the stark hills to the North.

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A moment of indescribable serenity and beauty is broken by the arrival of a passenger laden horseless carriage (a car) making its way up the twisting road.

Up above me Pam is waving for me to come up and meet her, I signal her to come to me.

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We meet halfway and make our way to the museum.

Understandably the Croatian people have very strong feelings and opinions regarding the dissolution of the previous Yugoslav state into separate countries and the long period of hostility and bloodshed that culminated in the war during the late eighties and early nineties.

The museum that now fills the interior of the Fortress Imperial displays relics of the armaments used in defense of Dubrovnik. Walls are filled with unashamedly parochial descriptions of the heroic actions of the outnumbered and outgunned defenders.

Water drips from the ceilings and covers the damp floors. Mould growing everywhere tightens the breath.

We sit and watch a thirty minute video of newsfeed showing the shelling of Dubrovnik Stari Grad and the newer city beyond it’s walls from both land based and naval artillery fire.

Tracer trails light the night sky from one hilltop to the next.

Rubble fills the streets of the beautiful city, its citizens huddle in bomb shelters during the shelling then emerge to repair as best they can the damage done.

Food and water are rationed, a rainy day is a good day.

The Hotel Belvedere is destroyed, the Grand Hotel Imperial engulfed in flames.

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I take a photo of a display showing the damage inflicted on Dubrovnik Stari Grad after the video feed begins its new half hour cycle and we climb the slippery algae covered stairs to the roof of the Fortress Imperial.

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Here the winding trail to the Old City below is clearly seen. The thought of carrying supplies and ammunition to the defenders in the fortress along the steep, sniper exposed, winding path sends a shiver through my spine.

Every conflict has at least two sides and each side has their own propaganda justifying both the means and the ends.

What means or ends could justify the destruction of the Pearl of the Adriatic?

Atop the Fortress Imperial overlooking the beauty of the Old City below and the Adriatic beyond my thoughts revolve around a familiar question.

How is it that a species who has a level of intelligence apparently so high that they deem themselves the most intelligent in the UNIVERSE can think of no better option than death, rape, murder and destruction on a grand scale as a means of ultimately resolving communal differences?

The first verse from each poem of my Bleat Baaa Bleat Roar Bleed series runs through my mind.

See; I am but skin-deep man
Amidst glass tower and fable
Yet scratch me hardly, in deed shallow
Release unfettered red hued running
Able, amuck as the beast
For is not man but beast
Bled unhallowed

ion¤¿¤s

Pam may have noticed the darkening of my brow for she rescues me from the whirlpool enveloping my mind.

‘We have to get down before the sun sets’

It has been a spectacular thought provoking day so far. Maintaining our upright integrity on the descent as the falling sun reflects off the passing cable car provides the focus I need to steer my mind away from the abyss of war.

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Locals with sturdy knees and sure footfalls hurry past us as we more leisurely and carefully make our way down towards the paved ways below.

We must endure.

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An ethereal quality of light in play as we descend has me stopping to take photo after photo however some magics only make themselves accessible to the naked eye.

Perhaps it is best that way.

PLL

Mick and Pam

A Shady Past

deep the peaceful meadow swallowed
death once again, has served life
for reborn green anew
those, who in the midst of strife
fell, falling their fellows
now they feed pastures, fallow

were the past a chariot
history would be one wheel
the past moves, it covers ground, as history grinds circular
that once done must come once more
those left unfallen, forget too soon
the hub of war, and it’s blood greased squeal

see; deep in the green of pastures scored
are the ruts of a history ignored
for this new day’s light, an old grim sun dawns
a cold ember sparks bright, the oldest war spawns
soon we’ll fall again, whilst falling our fellow
the pastures shall gorge, before falling fallow
for we’re reborn beasts we seem reborn to be
with moth eyes, brim full of war fire
whilst our ears ringing toll, an old rhetoric hallowed
rutted behind, in pastures fallow, we follow the wheel
hatred fills our footprints
violence is our shadow
hatred fills our footprints
violence is our shadow
hatred fills our footprints
violence is our shadow

ion¤¿¤s

4 thoughts on “Climb to the Sky

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