TEXT BY IRENA DRAGAŠ JANSEN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MANUELA THAMES
As I observe the global pandemic unfold from the comforts and safety of my Washington, D.C., metro area home, I am transported back to the basement shelters where my parents, sister, relatives, neighbors, and I hid from the daily deadly mortar attacks during the most recent war in Croatia.
Living a few blocks from one of the most iconic bridges in the world, I often stroll to the harbor’s edge, spot the Sydney Opera House, and watch ferries come and go into the Circular Quay. Add the backdrop of the crisp, blue Australian sky as sun glistens across the water, and a poem should practically write itself each day.
But when the pandemic hit and we were told to self-isolate, going out only for essentials, the last thing I felt was inspired.
Lockdown for me has revealed a strange sense of calm living alongside the fear and uncertainty in the world at the moment. Towns and cities lie deserted, and there is empty space where humans once were. Lockdown has given me the time to pause, become more aware of my immediate surroundings, and see the beauty that exists within this stillness. The following photos capture small moments of peace I have felt during lockdown.
In a Culture Keeper first, at least in recent memory, we bring you a recipe! In a video report narrated in French (never fear, non-French speaker, we’ve included some English text for you), Bill Diem takes us from the market to the kitchen to a dinner table surrounded by friends ready to enjoy the evening’s star dish. Along the way he sheds some light on the history of this representative of France’s reputed culinary traditions.
In a holiday season full of the wonder of childhood delight mixed with the hopes and burdens of adults, our contributor Jane Potthast stumbles upon a favorite painting from childhood and wonders whether it holds something new for her now.
Before being translated to English for our Culture Keeper audience, Dutch journalist Mirthe Smeets’s interview with painter Solko Schalm was first published in Vers Beton, a Dutch online magazine focused on engaging the people of Rotterdam in understanding their city as it changes and develops. Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ second largest city and Europe’s largest port. Enjoy this interview with one of its artists!