Posted tagged ‘Kaliningrad’

Baltic Gems

June 23, 2015

Kaliningrad Oblast. Not a normal starting point for ten, or a blog, but we like our variety at Whizz from Bizz.

The Oblast is the westernmost part of Russia and its administrative centre is Kaliningrad, which was previously Konigsberg. Names change all the time, don’t they? Cannae keep up with them. My interest in Kaliningrad was Gerard Piqued by Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Tatiana. With his crime thriller wanting me to learn more of this strange district I studied up on the joint.

This exclave has been round the block a bit. Once ruled by Teutonic Knights in more recent times it was Prussian before becoming Russian. Crushing as that is, it also has to share a Spit with Lithuania in the Curonian lagoon. Furthermore, you can’t travel the whole spit. The road ends at Lithuania’s Smiltyne where you need to take a ferry to mainland Klaipeda to continue your Baltic trek. Still with me?

Anyway, back to Kaliningrad. Not only is it the birthplace of the philosopher, Immanuel Kant, it is famous for being the world’s leading producer of Amber. There will be no more fancy ge-fography names mentioned. Amber is where this blog has finally arrived at. It will receive its due.

Amber has never been forefront in my thoughts before and I wasn’t much taken with her. She likes to play tricks on me when I’m driving. Cliff might still be searching for his green light but I find them easily and about to saunter on through them when Amber jumps out the box and gives me a flash. The distance between me and the other side is always a fine line. With a traffic light camera at the junction I have no option but to stop, and to kill time, have a chat with the red light. Red is amber’s upstairs neighbour and red doesn’t like amber either.

Putting my driving woes in low gear I researched the history of the amber gem. I did not know that certain pieces of amber from antiquity have enclosed insect fossil matter. The amber minefields are a mini Jurassic park. The following excerpt is from the Gemstone Sheriff.

Numerous extinct genera and species of plants and animals have been discovered and scientifically described from inclusions in Baltic amber. Baltic amber includes the most species-rich fossil insect fauna discovered to date.

Viewing the images makes me want to start a collection. I considered making my own home-made fossil stones but it’s hard to catch a fly without squashing it and where on earth would I get the amber from (try Kaliningrad, you fool – sub-editor comment)? I hummied and hawed with the idea of screwing off one of the amber lights at the crossing and taking it home. That rugged sentinel, the all-knowing traffic camera put me off. One night I may go incognito with a ladder to the lights and stuff a toy gonk in the amber light. That would look terrific when lit.

Another property of amber is its healing power. It imbues the body with life and can draw impurities from  your cells. It can drain your pain, it can positive your negative. It cures your liver problem, Hannibal. It fills your lungs with so much air you can float. It strengthens your memory’s muscles to such a degree that you can name all the Village People costumes.  It can put hairs on your chest, it can put chairs in your vests. Amber is aspirin and El Dorado rolled into one.

Amber colored tonic

Coming from the same neck of the woods as Kant, It’s clear that Amber doesn’t adhere to his philosophy. While Kant can’t, Amber can.