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 !
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 !
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”.
March 7, 2010
Words do not always need to be expressed… So much can be said between four eyes. Or so I imagined
“Sure, little Buddy, we’ll find it. Some day :)”
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 !
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 19, 2009
Walking in the forest, even if you go the woods every day, does not always prepare you for the strange encounters you can do. I have noticed and admired these variations in all Seasons. Nature changes and so do trees, bushes, anything vegetal. The light goes through various shades along the day and over the months. It is a never ending pleasure and surprise to see today what you had not really paid attention to yesterday. So it was with this strange “couple” I really saw on a Spring morning. How many times did I walk on this path and looked without seeing these two tree trunks on the edge of a pasture. Then all of sudden Spring had transformed them completely. In front of me stood two vegetal creatures. “She”, the Lady of the Woods, was particularly visible, slightly bent forward, her long disheveled hair falling on her back. I was stunned and just had to take this picture so as to be sure I was not dreaming !
Walking in the woods after the rain one day, I almost went head first into this spectacular spider’s web. At that moment it looked to me like a huge forest dial trembling in the light breeze, raindrops trapped in its threads like pearls. A magnificent view !
Sometimes a noise or a slight movement makes you lift your head or turn around. Often you do not see anything. It can happen that your steps disturbed a bird or a lizard and you just hear something without seeing them. But at other times you meet some of the forest inhabitants. In this case a horse grazing in a field at the edge of the woods was hidden by the tall grass Its white mane barely emerging. A real lovely, peaceful moment on a hot Summer afternoon.
Some encounters are more surprising and really take you aback. This fox was standing on the side of the forest track, not more than 30m away from me. I slowed down hoping to take a picture before he ran away between the trees. But he would not move, he just stood there looking at me, maybe wondering if I was a friend or an ennemy. It was hunting season. I continued walking slowly towards him until I probably got too close and all of a sudden he was gone !
A curious and lovely looking animal not rare
at all these days around the farms and houses in the village. Not always welcome. His cry at night is frightening. But I do love seeing one of them running across fields or in the forest, tail almost as long as the body, elegant and rapid, glancing swiftly in my direction before disappearing in the wheat or corn fields.
Today I did not see any animal friend in the forest but I heard many ! It was right after the rain, as the day started to grow dark. Birds were singing their late day songs so cheerfully, beautifully, competing with each other or just answering good night messages. This is my favourite moment for a walk into the woods. For the softness of the air, the unique light playing hide and seek between the trees and… for the birds songs of course.