My Life is a Mirror

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Can you find me in this picture, standing next to my Turkish husband in Istanbul and taking a photo of a mirror gallery we found in Taksim?  Sometimes my life feels like layers of glass backed by silver–a mirror to reflect life here in Turkey.

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I’ve always loved taking photos through glass and into mirrors.  Here is a shot of me taking my own portrait in a gilded mirror at the Greenpark Hotel on Kar Tepe mountain in Kocaeli.

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Sometimes glass is so clear that you can barely see it.  The treasures it protects appear to be close, as if you could reach out and touch them with your hand.  But they are shielded from us, like a dream, a faint desire, an absent child.  I took this photo of my favorite wedding shop in Izmit, Kocaeli where I have lived for two years.

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Glass works two ways (unlike a mirror), and sometimes people look back at us through it, as in this gown shop in Izmit where the customers inside wonder what I am doing outside with my camera.  How is your life like glass or a mirror?  What do you see–or reflect?  Do you capture images in pictures or in words?

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Walk with Me to Turkey’s Kar Tepe Mountain

I was teaching basic English to private language school students on weekends when I decided it was time for a field trip. Since I had often stood in Izmit, Kocaeli by the banks of the Marmara Sea and looked up at the distant mountains, I thought of traveling to Kar Tepe, the tallest peak in Kocaeli and home to a five-star hotel and challenging ski resort.

The only way to get up the mountain is by car, since the buses only go to the village of Kar Tepe at the base of the mountain. The paved road is well cared for, thanks in part to business from wealthy Istanbul residents who want to ski at the closest location. One of my students offered to drive our small group, and we left early on a Saturday morning in September. Continue reading

My First Poetic Thoughts of Turkey

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The bridge in Izmit, toward the Marmara Sea

My first few months in Turkey, I was amazed and overwhelmed by all I found here.  I lived in Izmit, Kocaeli, in the northwest, not far from Istanbul.  Enjoy my impressions with matching photos.  From my new book, “Fire and Ice”:

After my class is over, I walk up the bridge that rises over the old, mysterious mosque with mossy stones, a minaret, and golden crescent moon.  I stare down at walls enclosing gardens, smell the sweet, sweet scent of jasmine, and hear the song of Call to Prayer.  I look ahead toward the towering bridge where colors change in twilight.  Red is for the Golden Gate of San Francisco, and blue is like the curving arc across the San Diego Bay.  Clouds fill the sky above me, and sudden rain pours down, mixed with sunlight slanting through in rays like blessings on the land.

Oh, God, you know I need the reality of rain . . .

I hurry to meet friends at another rooftop café.  I want to sit with them and watch the sun set.  They greet me like I am a princess, standing up and pulling out my chair.  Immediately they offer chai and a meal of spiced meatballs served with rice and vegetables.

I love this café culture.  We can sit for hours together on this balcony that overlooks the Marmara Sea.  The hills that edge the other side are brilliant green, with emerald slopes reaching down toward red-roofed houses that line the sea bank.  The highest mountain is like Lake Arrowhead, a lookout on its peak above the pine trees.  I stir my chai and lean my head upon the table, listening to the drone of voices and distant Turkish music. Continue reading