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…
March 29, 2013
Wishing you all a Very Happy Easter Weekend !
Last week, I received those “cascarones” decorated for me by Mariana, a dear friend in Texas. What a surprise and a pleasure to open a long box of 12 colourful eggshells ! Only one of them had not coped with the long travel over the pond. You can see it in the basket : half broken and filled with paper confetti. More information about this Latin American, Mexican tradition here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascar%C3%B3n
I wish I could have sent you Springful images of my surroundings. No way. As I write to you, it is snowing again and the rare flowers that I spotted a few days ago like snowdrops, crocuses, primroses, are now covered by a layer of snow that keeps growing. So, why not stay in tune with the “cascarones” and share pictures of a beautiful trip I did in May/June 2008 in South Texas. The vegetation was in full bloom and my friends’ gardens were enchanting. And cool to sit in.
Fina’s bougainvillea right outside my window.
Dora’s artistic tree in her magic garden.
The Canelas Bakery is “Serving Crystal City for three generations“. I imagine those tasty pastries are on my friends’ table on Easter Day, with a lot more delicious homemade food.
This is a painting created by Juan for his sister Mariana. For me it symbolizes the warm welcome I received in my friends’ home. The generosity of their kind heart. The creativity and variety of their tasty cuisine. The strong family links between all generations. Their luxuriant and inviting gardens. The unbelievable heat around midday when only a foreigner could be on the streets taking pictures…
Can you feel the heat under this clear and blue sky ?
This is probably one of my favourite pictures taken during my Texas journey. A wide, straight and endless road. A flat landscape (particularly in this area) and a big, huge sky. And, last but not least for a Swiss person, no mountains on the horizon. Thank you Juan, thank you to your dear family for making me feel at home in your hometown.
Feliz Pascua !
December 12, 2012
…I still wish to share some of my Fall colours just before snow fell heavily and unexpectedly. Colours from here and there along those past weeks.
Ninio is posing in a golden forest and probably thinking: “If I were not on a leash, all you could photograph would be just a vague glimpse of one of my white legs running away like a flash or just leaves !”
I finally finished sewing a small quilt that brings warmth on a wall of our house. Inspiration came from a photo of a Flickr friend and artist, Eglantine. I tried to find on fabrics the colours and patterns she painted on wood with acrylic and pastel. Thank you, dear Eglantine, for your inspiration and permission to use your picture. Underneath is the photo of my friend’s artwork.
More pictures of Eglantine’s Flickr photostream here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/eglantine/
This is the mini-quilt I sewed and embroidered using scraps of colourful cotton, polyester, organza and gauze ribbons.
Colourful too were the images of a beautiful and fascinating movie I saw recently, in particular the thousands of bees’ swarms working diligently and flying in all directions. “More than Honey” by Markus Imhoof or “What if Bees would disappear ?” in French is a documentary. Fascinating, I wrote, but I should also say very worrying and well worth seeing. The present situation of those precious and endangered insects was filmed in various countries of all continents. Our whole planet is concerned with the bees’ disappearance from their hives or new colonies having to be destroyed.
What are the causes ? Pesticides or medicines used to fight them ? Parasites ? A new virus ? The stress bees are submitted to during their forced long journeys ? Industrialisation and mechanization ? Pollution or damage caused to the environment ? No sure answer is given but the documentary definitely makes you aware of this terrible danger : the bees’ disappearance and with them the absence of cross-pollination. Losing bees, as we all know, would have repercussions throughout the food supply chain.
“More than Honey” should be released abroad at the beginning of 2013. Don’t miss it if you have the opportunity to watch it. The film was presented at the Locarno Film Festival 2012, in Switzerland.
Since October weather has changed. Snow fell heavily in November, temperatures dropped a lot and a Siberian North wind is blowing every second day. I know, Winter is here but…one can still dream of colours, right ?
November 22, 2012
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all, here and there, who are celebrating and sharing !
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!
Wishing you a beautiful day !
Peace, Love, Good Health and Joy.
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 24, 2012
There is no doubt about it : we are heading towards Autumn. As I write to you rain is falling heavily. Geraniums on the terrace are dancing wildly as a strong wind blows. Not a single blue patch in the sky but total greyness. Yet yesterday was a real warm and sunny Summer Sunday, with no sign of today’s storm. I do not mind letting Summer go though. It was a particularly hot Season this year, one that was generous with sun but also with rain. In fact, I am grateful for such months that brought the best out of nature. And, as a bonus, a bit of Mediterranean climate to our cool Alps.
The deep blue lavender tones have given way to others, just as colourful but with a softer shade. A gorgeous array of contrasts is awaiting us.Scott Thomas at “Views Infinitum” http://viewsinfinitum.com/2012/09/12/assignment-21-end-of-summer/ invited us to express in words and pictures how we felt about the End of Summer and the passage to Fall. His photography challenge ends on September 26, if you wish to participate.
A definite sign of the end of Summer are the cooler nights and mornings. A warmer and more cosy duvet or eiderdown is now well appreciated.
End of Summer also means end of vacation for most people, especially children. They are now back in school and as you drive around the country and in town you will see those notice boards as you get near a school : “Stop before the shock !” Let’s be even more careful on the road.
Another sign of Summer leaving for warmer horizons is the lenght of the days. They have definitely been getting shorter. This picture was taken a few minutes after 8 pm, street lamps and floodlights were already switched on. Night falls shortly before 8.30pm. Shorter and darker days are in for many months now. I will miss the long days of Summer indeed.
Grape harvest is a big event in my home state, Valais. Even in this mountainous area, vineyards have been planted for centuries and have shaped the landscape in a unique way. Today is the start of the harvest season. This hillside and a lot of other areas will be filled with grape-pickers. Busy, noisy slopes bustling with activity. Grape harvest is one of the most significant moments of the end of Summer over here. And I love it !
Just as much as I love eating grapes Of course, the change of colours in the vegetation is getting obvious. Summer has not gone completely and yet the landscape is changing. Slow but definite variations in shades and textures. The end of Summer is a promise of such beautiful and colourful transformation all around us. I am looking forward to the arrival of Fall, my favourite Season.
I had been hoping to share with you an event that really means “end of Summer” for me. It is the birds’ migration. A few days ago a large group of birds swooped down on the trees behind our house. I had never seen them before in our area. They looked like small partridges, light grey and white feathers. Pretty birds. Such loud chirping and excitement in the almost bare branches, flying from one tree to the other ! Today they are gone having eaten most of the red berries in the rowan-trees. “Bon voyage” to warmer climates, little birds !
Thanks for stoping over in our garden
September 15, 2012
Sunflowers would highlight any day. They show us the way to the slightest sunray. “Tournesol”, from the Italian “girasole”, -”which turns with the sun”- bears such an appropriate name.
Fine and fragile cosmos playing with the breeze, in white, pink, purple spreading out their petals like arms to better grasp the light and warmth of this Season.
And what about the fruits that abound at this Season ? Now it’s time to pick prunes, mirabelles, pears. Soon there will be grapes – a big event in our area – apples, fruits meant to last and be enjoyed during colder days. Yes, let’s face it, Summer is going to end, Fall is at the door.
“What constitutes the end of Summer for you ?” This is the question Scott Thomas asks on his blog to anyone wishing to participate in his new photo assignment until September 26.
It should be very interesting to see how each participant feels about and look at the change of Season. I am going to think about it.
If you would like to take part in this new photography challenge, please click on the above link to get all the information.
A second life for this old fountain and a home for all kinds of pretty flowers.
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 !
August 9, 2012
Summer is well on its way. We are having such a heatwave over here ! Unusual canicular days are followed by violent storms, heavy rains and coolness. Temperatures going up and down at brief intervals. Our landscape is especially luxuriant this Season, gardens and fields are grateful : flowers, cereals and vegetables abound.
An orange-red rose, my favourite, with as many petals that open every day as the pages of a scented book you would read with delight.
Some of our fresh vegetables picked early in the morning and served for lunch. On the menu that day for our visitors: leeks with vinaigrette, grilled zuchinis and chards au gratin with cheese. We will have to wait a few more weeks to taste our purple potatoes, something new this year.
It has been a rather busy Summer with little time for blogging and visiting you, my friends, I feel sorry about this; there were several birthday celebrations, family and friends’ visits, excursions and picnics in the mountains but also quiet times along a river near our home. Days are longer and as the sun sets on the water, I sometimes meet a family of swans catching its rays as they glide gently towards the shore, hoping for some pieces of bread I don’t always have.
Summer also brought its days of sadness and loss. Two dear friends passed unexpectedly leaving family and friends deeply shocked. The sun shone brightly though as we all gathered in a small mountain village graveyard to pay homage to both friends, at a two weeks’ interval. Sadness for the great loss.
Sadness for all that remained to be shared and said. Sadness when the realization of their absence became more tangible every day. Why so soon ? Unanswered question. At about the same time, I began reading a book about Celtic Wisdom by the Irish writer and philosopher, John O’Donohue: “Anam Cara” or “Soul Friend” in Gaelic. Thank you to Lumens Borealis http://lumensborealis.com/about/ for having introduced me to John O’Donohue’s writings.
Serendipity, happy coincidence in a moment of distress ? I don’t know but here are a few lines, comforting thoughts, that J. O’Donohue wrote about death in his inspiring book :
The Dead Bless Us
I believe that our friends among the dead really mind us and look out for us…One of the exciting developments that may happen in evolution and in human consciousness in the next several hundred years is a whole new relationship with the invisible, eternal world… We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them ? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation or pain. They are home. They are with God from whom they came. They have returned to the nest of their identity within the great circle of God…the largest embrace in the universe, which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal, as one.”
So much gratefulness for these lines and deep reflections about death, and about much more I read in this wonderful book. Hardly a day passes without thinking of those two close friends although now sadness is mixed with the serene and happy feeling of having known them both.
For R. and J.-J. I chose this Vivaldi Cello Concerto, largo. I know they loved it.
The circle of life. As days go by, sorrow is followed by joy as a new life has brought happiness in my family. A baby girl, Alima, is sharing her irresistible and peaceful smile with us all. A sweet messenger of Peace as shown on the card her parents sent us :
“Jàmm rekk ! Kayra dorong ! La paix seulement”
Good wishes in Wolof, Mandinka and French. Alima’s papa comes from Senegal, her maman is my niece. The words chosen by her parents to announce their daughter’s birth mean : “Peace only or Peace be with you”.
Welcome sweet little Alima !
Over the past month, I have been asked if I was working on a new quilting project. Yes, indeed I was and still am. A quilt is finished and has been offered to my sister for her Birthday. Two others are in progress (WIP) ! But that is another story that I will tell you about later. Just a few shots to give you an idea.