May 18, 2013
So much time and patience have been needed recently to first open my PC, then read my mail and respond to it, write on the blog or read you ! My old PC definitely needs a rest or better said, a retirement after a long and good collaboration. Slowly but surely.Maybe I will go back to writing on an impressive type-writer such as this Remington from other times ? It was sitting quietly on a coffee house table.
In the meantime, I wish you a happy and sunny Spring, plenty of pictures, thoughts and experiences to share. I look forward to reading you.
Take good care of you.
See you again later. Au revoir et à bientôt.
October 22, 2012
Grape harvest is over in most areas of my canton (Valais). Some grapes will have to wait for a mid November harvest though. The wine produced then will have more flavour, sweetness and this particular flavour “terroir”, from the local soil.John O’Donohue, Irish writer and philosopher, writes about “Autumn and the Inner Harvest” (Anam Cara). He tells of the four Seasons of the heart, Autumn being associated with old age.
“In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one”.
As in the Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue sees Autumn as the harvest of one’s soul that gives a deeper sense of strenght, belonging and poise. A quiet delight when this time arrives in your life.
I like O’Donohue’s deep thoughts and, as I walked through those wineyards last Sunday afternoon, I remembered my mother’s words and memories of her younger years when she was helping her father taking care of their few vineyards over the same hills. It was a hard work for anyone involved. No machines were used. The work started in February/March and ended in October/November. A lot was to be learned over months and years. A harvest of knowledge and traditions were transmitted to sons and daughters, families’ links were valued and strenghtened. Most mountain villagers grew vineyards on the foothills. Their earnings were meagre and when the grapes were brought to the communal wine cellars, the gain was much appreciated. It used to be a joyful and singing crowd which walked down to the valley early in the morning (5-6am) during the season of grape harvest. Sometimes, on lucky days, a postal bus would drive the villagers and winegrowers down to the vineyards. After a long day’s work under a hot sun the return home up to the little villages was much quieter. Bodies hurt and voices kept silent. Of course there was a big celebration at the end of the harvest. It coincided with this other tradition that is still present nowadays : roasted chestnuts (brisolée). A feast when served with various kinds of cheese, cold meats, rye bread/butter, grapes and apple pie; we also drink must (grape juice not fermented yet). A simple and delicious meal-of-the-season.
All those thoughts and more went through my mind during my afternoon walk. I wished my mother would have been there with me, holding my arm, smiling, commenting, remembering and gleaning the few grapes that were forgotten or left for visitors or birds or beagles Yes, Nino was with me and I had some trouble keeping him close to me, especially when we walked near this beautiful vineyard (below) that had not been harvested yet.
In a photo album, I found this old picture of grape harvest in our area, Valais. My mother could have been there making a pause and chatting with friends. Those days are long gone….
September 8, 2012
Some weeks just go by their own quiet way and rhythm. I do not mean a routine because there seems to be something special in each day. In some weeks though there are events out of the ordinary, people and places you will remember. The week described here was one of those.
Monday is sometimes a day when I try cooking new recipes. Pies or quiches are amongst my favourites. Some of them I find reading blogs such as Tammy’s. Her blog is not only about food but also about community supported agriculture. Well worth reading.
The recipe is about a tomato pie. Since I had a big and beautiful zuchini waiting to be picked in the garden, I added some of it in the pie (grated and grilled a little). This is the only change I made. It tasted really delicious, Thank you very much, Tammy.
On Tuesday I had to go to town and found a quiet lane to walk for a while with Nino-the-beagle. Guess whom we met ? Another beagle looking lonely behind a fence. What do two beagles say to each other when they meet : “Let’s escape together and go hunting !”
Wednesday morning. Brilliant clouds welcomed me as I opened the shutters. “O, beautiful golden clouds, what will you bring us on this day” ? As it happened, the warm morning turned into a stormy day. A rather temperamental weather this Summer but a rain that was well needed too.
A short break after work on Thursday afternoon. As we were sitting on a bench with a friend, a “school-boat” was floating down the canal. A lady was steering the little boat back to its mooring. Not as simple as it looks and she did very well.
On Saturday morning at our friend’s home, we were awaken by a ballet of helicopters. Every third minute or so, a helicopter would fly over the area, fill a big bucket of water (700 liters) and pour it down on the forest which had caught fire during the night. It took the pilots two whole days to stop it. Nobody was injured and the damage could be stopped in time.
Sunday was a happy celebration day ! Family and friends gathered around Alima, our youngest niece. The sun shone brightly for her. There were prayers, songs, dance and lots of African food and music. Another change of scenery in this particular week. Alima was quite comfortable and relaxed dancing in her proud grandmother’s arms.
Guess what I did on Sunday ? After a rest following the previous long day, I sat down on a lovely terrace between sky and earth, took my pen and some nice stationary; I wrote to a dear friend all about my recent week. Internet is not part of her world and we both enjoy exchanging letters every month.
August 20, 2012
How about photo assignement this month ? Here is one proposed by Karen at http://karmardav.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/photo-hunt-inspiration-and-early-announcement/
The deadline is August 31st and the theme is about the place(s) that would represent the “End of the earth” for you. Karen explains all about it in her blog (see above link, please).
Looking through some of my recent and older pictures, I found some images that I thought would show you my vision of the end of the earth.
A hamlet up in the Swiss Alps. About 15 people live there all year round. Both sides of the mountain slopes seem to close in front of the small village. On a foggy day the chalets look isolated, almost lost in the forest. To me it does look like the end of the earth. When the sun is out though the high mountains all around offer you a different sight: a quiet little village from where you could start hiking to the mountain pastures.
On a brighter side, here is a man doing paragliding; it looks as if he is heading to the end of the earth… A view that made me dizzy and envious of the infinite space that lay all around him and that is so difficult to imagine.
Austral mountains and forests stretching out to the horizon. No visible village nor town nearby. No hikers to be seen around. The only sounds were the calls of the noisy cockatoes. A sure feeling of being at the end of the earth.
As for the “extreme” type of picture I felt like adding to Karen’s photo hunt, I chose this one. I took it a few years ago as I was walking along a mountain trail. Two boys were cycling and they stopped in front of a trail going down the slope. So steep that I would have hesitated to walk down there myself. I barely had time to ask : “Are you sure you…” and down they went !
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 !
January 1, 2011
November 1, 2010
It was around 5.30pm and I was driving to town. The sun was highlighting the pasture and the cows, the last rays of a beautiful but chilly autumnal day. I just had to stop and take a picture of two Seasons that were overlapping. Snow had fallen on the Prealpes mountains and the sight was enchanting. Could it be that Winter is at the door ? A bit too soon for me…
“Winter is an etching, Spring a watercolor, Summer an oil painting and Autumn a mosaic of them all”.
July 27, 2010
After a few days of well needed rain and cooler temperatures, another heat wave is at the door. Time to go to the swimming pool or to the lake for a tour on a small paddle boat or pédalo in French.
This could well be the last time this Summer that we had a barbecue. Because of this long spell of hot days, fires are forbidden in the open; in the forests or in your own garden ! Too dangerous in such a dry Season. No private fireworks either in most places on August 1st, our National Day.
I wonder can you feel the heat in those last two photos ? The wheatfields are ready to be harvested, some have been already. Their golden shade seem to attract the sun and reflect all this Summer heat.
Here is something very interesting for all of you who visit. How about joining in on a photography assignement by Scott Thomas ?
Below is a link for more information. Everyone is invited !
February 14, 2010
Usually I am not too keen on taking pictures of people, I am a bit shy about it. On this particular occasion, I thought I would not be noticed at all, so totally oblivious were they of the people right beside them. There were many tourists visiting the ancient castle of Gruyères. Now imagine that for a second they, “les amoureux”, had looked around or below the old window they were sitting on. It was highly unlikely but just imagine This is what they would have seen : a nicely designed garden inside the castle walls. Over the walls, green pastures, forests and mountains. An idyllic landscape.
The castle is built on a hill and is quite a sight no matter what direction you come from. The young couple was sitting inside a large open window that you may notice on the outer wall of the castle. Better seen in the last picture, in Winter time.
January 8, 2010
Just back home from a stay in our Alps which happen to be in my home state, Valais. These mountains stand at the border between Switzerland and France/Italy. Most of them are over 3000m high, some (including the Matterhorn or Cervin as we call it in French) over 4000m high. A mighty landscape some find overpowering. Personally these mountains fascinate me because they seem to change according the season, the day and even the hour. Although we did have some patches of blue sky and luminous sunsets, the weather was rather grey and freezing during the Holiday Season. This year there were more icy paths and roads, violent storms, fog and avalanches than in the previous years . This is not really like the usual weather we enjoy up there. This area is well known for its ever present (or almost) sunshine.
At night time the landscape take a whole different look. Mountains look like a skyline in the horizon and the hills are covered by a multitude of lights. Villages are built on the steep slopes and when the night falls around 5.30pm, the view is just breathtaking. Try to imagine the fireworks on December 31st in the same night… magic !