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 19, 2010
What is my Autumn like ? The first sign of my favourite Season is the light haze over the horizon. It is not a fog, just a slight mist, a hazy look that tells you for sure that Fall is there.Autumn brings a most colourful change in nature. In the mountains the larch trees needles turn into a bright yellow-orange shade before falling down into a soft carpet.
Soft and natural carpets everywhere. The kind of carpet I enjoy walking on because of its rustling sound and ever changing colours.Autumn is a Season of celebrations in my canton (state). A family tradition is the meal where everyone, young and less so, meet around a convivial table to eat roasted chestnuts. We usually eat those with various sorts of mountain cheese, “viande des Grisons” (air-dried meat, beef, produced in the canton of Grisons), rye bread and butter, grapes, apples, all local food. On this occasion we drink must (grape). Every year we so look forward to meeting and eating this rather simple and tasty meal in good company.Autumn is also a time for grape harvest in this particularly warm area. Vineyards have been planted for centuries on the side of the mountains and down in the valley. Never do the vineyards look as beautiful as now ! A patchwork of hard work almost all year round. What a reward and a pleasure when the vintage is a good one !This is an ancient cellar no longer in use but I remember that “my grand-father-from-the-mountains” (as I used to call him) had a similar one under his house in a small village. He would take my hand, bring me to his cellar and show me proudly his yearly harvest. What a work it meant !And what a delight to savor the grapes from one’s own vineyard !Grapes and apples, the two kinds of fruits that Autumn gives in abundance over here.Gratefulness for these many gifts of nature in this wonderful Season.
Many thanks also to Scott Thomas for having brought up this new photography challenge.
There is still time to participate ! Your photos have to be posted before Wednesday, November 24.
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 18, 2010
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 !
September 2, 2009
Skies always fascinated me. Maybe because I come from a country where the horizon is almost always limited by hills, forests or mountains. To see a sky as big and wide as in Texas (see below), you would have to go climbing on a mountain… Or go hiking, driving to one of those high alpine valleys. There you would get this strange and unique feeling of being somewhere between sky and earth.
The vastness of Australian skies also made me wonder. Clouds looked different to me, as if more free to expand in all directions. The clouds over St-Kilda, Melbourne just slid away in the immensity of the Southern hemisphere, ignoring the static world underneath.
“There are more things in the sky and on earth than your philosophy can dream of”
A sky I know well, at all times and all seasons. Vibrant colours of a sunset or dark clouds announcing a storm from the West. This is my part of sky as I open the windows facing South-West. The forest as a skyline.
Here is a sky I never get tired of admiring in the Alps. Mountains are towering in a wide amphitheater. No soft and round hills here but a natural circus of peaks and glaciers. Some say they feel oppressed. If one looks above the mountains the sky shines or darkens like nowhere else I remember of. As if telling ancestral stories of continental drift.
But as soon as the sky will darken, you will be alone”
July 17, 2009
“Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless. “
Excerpt of a poem by Philip Larkin
An old wooden house in an almost deserted village. A small window under the roof. No one is living there any longer. The curtain is pulled halfway across the opaque glass. Just enough to let in a patch of blue sky. When I pass in front of the sunburnt wooden facade, I look up and imagine life that used to be behind the high window. Was it the bedroom of a large family or a bachelor’s housing ? A room under a corrugated iron roof that must have been too hot in Summer and freezing cold in Winter. The stove was on the groundfloor, no heating upstair.
I imagine the thoughts that flew to the sky as a hand pulled the curtain. Thoughts of other places over the mountains. Desires of leaving the village for a better living. Dreams of knowing more of the world beyond the narrow valley. Or were they thoughts of happiness and comfort to live in the place of one’s roots ? I imagine the confidences swept away by the wind as one opened the high window… Cool mountain air that would refresh old walls and nurture one’s soul. A small high window to let the sunshine in.