April 26, 2013
A short, very short story.
Two cats in a garden close to my home, so close they often pay me a visit. One jump over the fence and here they are :
and Solero, the brown Bengali who reigns over our area and whose descendants are numerous and beautiful.
The garden they live in is just beginning to bloom and it is a real pleasure to look at it. What a gift to stroll through its alleys after the long Winter ! Its gardener, my friend Germaine, so loved by both cats, spends hours tending to it.
This is how Germaine’s garden looks through the eye of my needle.
A round ochre terrace surrounded by colourful bush, neat narrow alleys and a kitchen garden where flowers have nested too. In a secluded corner lies a small pond amongst pink flowers, home to golden fish and frogs.
Flowerbeds glimpsed at through Germaine’s kitchen window. Nature and beauty are all around.
Lovely and peaceful, yes, but on the other side of the fence is someone who is not in good terms with the feline crew. Worried and annoyed by the boldness of Renia and Solero, Ninio-the-Beagle shouts it loud and clear in the neighbourhood. Oh ! Happy Sunday mornings when our pets greet one another…
January 22, 2013
Scott Thomas’ first photography challenge this year is about Winter. http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/01/09/assignment-23-winter/ What does Winter mean to you ?
Here is my contribution to Scott’s assignment.
Winter 2012-2013 is particularly cold and snowy in some areas of Switzerland and yet it is only January ! In an alpine area, this Season brings a lot to mind like the best, in particular the various kinds of sport activities to the most unpleasant and dangerous, like extreme coldness, icy roads, avalanches. There is also one aspect that touches both the vegetal and animal world: dormancy. If you consider the time I spent away from my blog. you could also include humans
During a train travel between Geneva and the Alps, I was looking at a landscape of vineyards under the snow. A lovely patchwork in white and grey shades, no bustling around, just quietness. I thought of nature and its resting time, dormancy. I love this unique landscape of Lavaux terraced vineyards spreading down gently to the shore of Lake Léman. The whole area is protected by Unesco. Here are more pictures for you :
First snow in early December. As I opened the shutters one morning, I was surprised to see whiteness all around. The air was chilly and silent. I smiled as I spotted what looked like two animal shapes sculpted by snow. A hare ? A turtle ? In any case, they were well into their dormancy period.
In a more urban landscape, some construction sites experience their own dormancy period in Winter. Work had stopped. A greenhouse in the botanical garden nearby was all lit up, a warm looking sight. The heat inside was such a contrast with the outside temperature. Tropical trees and plants were blooming, no sign of rest there.
A familiar sight, the terrace in front of our home. On the previous day, I sat there for a while, letting my eyes wander on a landscape I am never tired of looking at. Now it is time for garden tables and chairs to take their own rest.
The little hedgehock was on the way to his favourite spot to spend the Winter: a big heap of leaves secured from Ninio-the-beagle’s investigations. Both had a rather traumatic meeting a while ago… and I doubt Ninio will ever tease the hedgehock again. As I got nearer, he stopped his quick little steps and buried his head in the snow. Discreetly, I retreated and let him move on for a long Winter sleep.
Someone just eaten a good part of my tasty and juicy apple. See below. I had left it on the picnic table while I taking a picture of Lake Livingston, Texas, at the end of a very hot July afternoon. The squirrel’s stomach was full and contented. Not a bit disturbed by my presence, he lied down on the bench warmed by the sun, made himself comfortable and gave me a last look before entering in a lethargic and sleepy state. Aestivation ? Another kind of dormancy, away from the coldness of hibernation in the North.
Sleep well, greedy little one
How do you think my own dormancy looked like over this past month ?
May 7, 2012
About three years ago, this shy and unsure little guy arrived in our home from the South of France (Provence), just in time for my birthday A ten weeks’ old Beagle looking up at me with eyes that seemed to say: “Here I am, tired from the long drive, my heart and stomach feeling strange, away from my mom and pack of brothers and sisters… Will you love me ?” If the picture is a bit blurred, it is because my eyes were a bit misty too.
A few weeks later, Nino was already exploring the jungle of lavender flowers whose scent may have reminded him of those vast blue fields that spread over plains and hills in the Provence. Something familiar for him.Life is not always a tranquil river… (Title of a French movie). At 8 months, Nino had a surgery and came out of the vet’s with this strange and cumbersome kind of hat. It did not prevent him to walk and run head down though, scraping against any stone or branch that was on his way to some interesting scent.
Month after month he grew up into a strong, energetic and alert Beagle, always so happy to walk or run along mountain tracks. Sometimes on the leash when cows were pasturing nearby, sometimes as free as the air and totally oblivious of my “retour/return !” command. My second son, a soccer player, gave me a referee whistle. Its shrill sounds seems to bring him back to me. Sometimes.Although a Southerner, Nino really adapted very well to our long winters. He is never cold nor tired to walk in the snowy forests. His short but thick fur keeps him warmer than any coat I could wear. No cold feet nor frozen fingers for my Beagle. On and on he keeps exploring and digging under the snow.At the end of March though, I almost lost my Nino. During a walk across a field, he ate something poisonous, real bad. I never saw what it was and the vets who took care of him for three days could not find out either. He had a terrible fit, uncontrollable convulsions. It took him a few weeks and more medicines to recover. Calm, sleepy, recovering slowly but surely. I will never forget this moment of panic, Nino trembling violently, his four legs all stiff, his imploring eyes saying “help me !” and am so grateful to the vets who cured him so well. A strong little Beagle.
Nino has now fully recovered, as you see from this picture taken yesterday during a walk. He is again the determined and tireless dog that he was before he got ill. Strong and alert in his element, Nature. This conqueror’s attitude… has he been inspired by Napoléon crossing the Alps ?;) I think Nino still has a lot more to enjoy and explore. Happy Birthday, little buddy !
September 22, 2011
Fall is about to start and I have not shared much of my Summer with you…
These past weeks have just flown by ! No real stress but various activities that kept me away from the PC. Let’s have a look at some of my Summer windows that will tell you a little more.
There were several friends who stayed at home for a while. Together we visited the old town of Fribourg and some of the small workshops. Behind the bars, an old low-ceilinged room or rather a real Aladdin’s cave with antique furnitures, lamps, dishes, jewels, coins, precious fabrics, and so much more. Having decided a while ago to do some serious clearing up, I resisted buying anything. Do not think though that I have not thought of it !In the same area of the old town, behind St-Nicholas’ Cathedral, there is a small art gallery I visit now and then. I went there with other friends on a rainy Sunday morning. A very colourful and joyful exhibition welcomed us. A painter/textile artist and a ceramist had created special artworks that I will show you in more details later. The gallery window showed a big white canvas where the Italian artist had sewn or stuck all kinds of fabrics and other materials. Fascinating ! And so inspiring. This is part of the view from our car window as we drove to the mountains with the family. Italy is right behind those mountains on the right but on that particular day we turned left to the Alps and the village where we took part in a family celebration.
Another view from our car window. We were driving on a highway along the Lake of Geneva. Switzerland is on your right, the French shore on the left. The city of Geneva lies on the far end of the lake. On a clear day, at any hour but especially at sunset this landscape is just breathtaking. Can you spot the first autumnal mist on the French side ? Just in case you wonder about these two pictures … I was not the driver.
Up in the mountains and strolling through an almost abandonned hamlet. A young couple whose great-grandparents had lived there earlier had decided to restore their chalet. They started with the roof and the windows. I must say it was a happy and encouraging sight for this tiny village is a precious memory of past times although modern additions (road, electricity…) make life easier up there.
A daily hike to high mountain pastures (about 7000ft). Two energetic dogs were so happy to meet and run together : a tourist Beagle (my Ninio) and a resident Jack Russel. A young French lady lives in the small stone house for the Summer Season while the cows graze up there. Her window opens on a bare landscape but for a few “arolle” trees. There are a special kind of pines (Pinus Cembra) which resist the low temperatures in Winter. Her window also opens on a vast corrie of mountains. The lady is the cheese maker of this particular pasture. The large round pieces of cheese she produces are very sought-after for their particular taste. If cows could speak, they would tell you how good the grass tastes up there with all the wild flowers covering the pastures from June till end of August.This is my kitchen window at home. One I never tire to look through at any Season. At this time of the year the greenness is dazzling. The rowan-tree attracts lots of birds who take their turn more or less patiently to eat its berries. It is noisy, happily so. The wheat field is blazing under the sun. In the evening I love to stand there and watch the sun disappearing slowly behind the forest. I am so lucky – and grateful – to live so close to nature !
Now, this is a window I could honestly have done without… Its unfathomable darkness saddens me so much. After camera and printer let me down, my laptop refused to respond and start. Yes ! Three devices I took for granted for years just went blank at a few months interval. I must add they all had almost the same age and probably were tired of working. Or of me, who knows ? This black window is also a reason why I did not post much lately. I had to rely on other computers not always available. Now I am back to the family’s old PC. I cross my fingers – and toes - for the good old computer to last until I can offer myself a new computer !
Not being able to post much had also advantages : I read and sewed more
More about it later. So I hope !
December 7, 2010
A snowy forest star just as lovely as in Summertime.
Braving wind and snow on the coldest day of the week (-7°C).
Cat to Dog : “Not as crazy as you about it… and I don’t mind sharing your territory, I’m faster anyway and I can climb, remember ? “
Snow and fog; it was probably the most beautiful and special day in the country but… totally chaotic on the roads and in town.
Another morning of deep snow and freezing temperatures (-6°C). The laundry will have to stay indoors.
What an utter pleasure to see the sun again and the beauty of the landscape under its cool rays on a forest path !
This is a little of my week for the past seven days. There is less snow today because it has started to rain. The air is still cold but someone cannot resist the call of the forest and off we are on the road and tracks again !
December 14, 2009
Slowly but surely, home looks more and more “Christmassy”. Quilts, stars, crown, pine cones, baubles were all sewed along the years. They add a colourful touch inside the house whereas outside trees are bare and bent by a strong and freezing Northern wind.
I just started decorating the Christmas Tree too, one I bought in the village. Every year the funds of this sale will help children go to a ski-camp for one week. This year I fixed decorations in the upper part of the tree only. And of course, no candles nor small chocolate figurines !
Ninio is a great acrobat, there is no obstacle for his stubborness. And his curiosity for novelty is… boundless !
September 26, 2009
This is the first sign of Autumn’s arrival. A light mist over the landscape. The humidity covering the grass, quite different as the dew of warmer days. Subtle shades on a green landscape and this nip in the air that makes you look for a sweater and go for the morning walk with the dog. Nino-the-beagle would not feel this new cold though, too busy looking for new tracks and his nostrils filled with scents of the hunting season.
August 15, 2009
B like a Beautiful surprise
B like a Big parcel that I was given on my Birthday
B like an incrediBle joy as I found inside a small red collar
B like the Black leash that accompanied it
B like the sweet message that I read with a tremBling voice in front of my family
B like the two deep Brown eyes that looked at me on a picture
B like my heartBeat when I realized this Baby Beagle was mine ! He just needed a name starting with an E, not a B
B like my Elnino Beagle, Ninio for his Buddies
B like my patchwork Basket he chose to sleep in when he arrived at home
B like the Breathtaking energy Ninio expends every day
B like how unBelievably quick Ninio adapted himself to his new family… and reciprocally
B like his Ballet dancing when it is Breakfast time or when forest calls
B like the first Bone he ever tasted after a Barbecue which smell kept him Busy and alert for a good while
B like an adoraBle Bright little Buddy who Brings joy to everyBody at home.
B like Better leave you for now : someBody is waiting for dinner !
B like goodBye
July 29, 2009
Some years ago a friend sent me the manuscrit of a book she had just written. The novel unfolded in South Africa, a story of love and adventure in a vast and beautiful country. Men and animals were never far from one another as soon as one left the big cities. Several episodes were set in colonial houses at teatime. Peace and quietness on luxuriant terraces or inside cool rooms. All around the houses there was wilderness, unindentifiable sounds and cries, strong smells and traces on the soil that meant : animals were close.
This story my friend wrote stayed in my mind for a while. I lived in Central Africa for a few years and those sights she described were alive in my memory and brought back images I thought I had forgotten.
One day as I sat in my sewing room, I came across a pretty English fabric : teapots, cups, flowers on tables, the perfect setting for teatime. Then I had this idea of sewing a quilt that would show my feelings as I read my friend’s novel.
It was not long before I found in my baskets of African fabrics all I needed to create my own story : Teatime in Jo’burg. A moment when animals would be even closer to men.
The main material was a green and golden batik I had bought in a women’s co-operative in Rwanda. The other fabrics came from various countries: Tanzania, Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Each with its own colour and symbols. A kind of United Colours of Africa.
It took me a few days only to sew the top, joining animals and cups of tea. My own version of my friend’s book. A quilt I truly enjoyed imagining and sewing.
June 28, 2009
There is this village up in the Alps, a hamlet really, only a few chalets almost hanging from the steep slope. Hardly anyone lives there nowadays. It used to be a larger village where families of mountain farmers made their living in growing wheat, rye, vegetables on terraces. Goats provided milk and cheese and mules were the only means of transportation. No easy life up there but the necessity to cultivate every inch of soil.When I am in the area, I often walk to this village on a small track along a narrow irrigation canal. Water ! so precious at all times in such an environnement. The canal is called “bisse” over there and it is built in the same way as the Arabs did in Northern Africa, in the Atlas mountains. Arabs who did travel as far as the Swiss Alps many centuries ago and who shared their knowledge about water supply.
In Summer the sun is hot in this micro climate. Coolness is provided by the gentle flow of the water in the canal and the shade in the woods. Tourists have discovered this pleasant walk and enjoy hiking along the mountain slopes for miles. I love it up there. In all Seasons. In Winter it is easier to do snowshoeing. The silence is palpable. Hardly any birds around but the mountain ones or those who did not migrate to warmer climes.In the late Fall, I like to bring a book with me, sit along the track and read. Often my eyes lift from my reading and just look and admire this unique landscape all around. Sitting on the edge of the mountain, somewhere between sky and earth. The mountains towering above and the valley deep down below. I have walked on this path countless times, it is never the same and always a renewed pleasure, a deep gratitude for such a world we inherited and have to protect.