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 ?
December 15, 2012
A light in the snow
A touch of warmth
When your heart feels so cold and sad
Oh, So sad
Will it bring a little comfort
Knowing that others
Share the deep pain and
Tragic loss ?
Thoughts of love and
for all those
Who lost a cherished child
A loved one
A dear friend
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 9, 2012
Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.
I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :
a strawberry, a fly,
the mineral kingdom,
the constellation of stars.
An unvoluntary smile,
and two elder persons in love.
I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet much value today.
repairing a pair of shoes and
Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.
The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,
The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,
I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,
and the hypothesis there is a Creator
Many of those values, I have not known.”
“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002″
Erri de Luca
Quote about books :
“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.
Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them. Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.
Erri de Luca
January 6, 2011
Walking in the garden a few days after Christmas. I was enjoying a fresh and early morning sun as I spotted a branch of blackberry, shaped like a heart. A wild and stubborn bush, not ready to give in to Winter. The persistent branch made me think of this past Summer bounty and of the delicious marmelade waiting on the kitchen table for the family breakfast.
Fleeting images of particular moments during the Holiday Season. I realize that the grandfather who once was as tall as his grandsons looked now small and frail. Emotion. A moment of love shared between generations, smiles and looks of complicity that belong to the three of them only. A wonderful bond.
My activities will not resume until mid-January. These days after Christmas are “in slow-motion”. Remembering family celebrations, animated talk around the table, gifts being offered, a surprise for everyone. Each family member had decided to offer a gift to one person only chosen by drawing lots. Each one kept the secret until Christmas Day. What an excitement as the time for sharing gifts came ! I was so happy that mine was meant for my Dad! I offered him a soft warm fleece jacket in his favourite colour, grey/blue. He loved it and is wearing it almost every day since Christmas
Sidney Poitier’s spiritual autobiography is one the best I have read in a long time. “The Measure of a Man” is the story of his life from his birth on Cat Island in the Bahamas until his recognition as a great actor in Hollywood. When he was about 12, S. Poitier told his sister : “When I grow up, I want to go to Hollywood and become a cowboy “. He had just seen his first movie in Nassau, a cowboy one of course. In 1963, S. Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his great performance in Lilies of the Field. He also received the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment.
Reading his memoirs is like having a worthwhile conversation with an older family member, his words are powerful, reflective, generous, humane and so moving. It makes you look closer at the foundations of your own life.
Looking forward to even more reading. Family and friends know me… and I received several books:
The Amish Quilts, 1870-1930, showing many reproductions of quilts from private collections in Switzerland; there are also some very interesting chapters about the origin and history of the Amish.
Matthieu Ricard, “Spiritual Paths”, a small anthology of some of the most beautiful Tibetan writings. To be read slowly too.
“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I have already started reading it and can hardly stop…
“The Rothko Chapel” by Domique de Menil. With her husband, John, Dominique founded the inter-religious Chapel in Houston/Texas in 1971. The de Menil’s dream was for the Chapel to promote interfaith dialogue, human rights and the arts. I am so grateful for this gift, a beautiful souvenir of a memorable visit of this Chapel some years ago.
From Barbara, my English quilting friend, I received the loveliest Desk Diary you can imagine !
More gratefulness. To Marie, http://ancientcloth.wordpress.com/ my inspiring and creative friend; she sews and expresses herself beautifully in her quilts. Marie sent me those colourful parcels.
Wonderful handmade gifts and special fabrics I look forward to sewing in my quilts. Precious presents from here and there. Thank you so very much, Marie ! All is truly appreciated. My thoughts are with you.
January will be a slow month for me. As my friend Marah wrote on a beautiful card : “Never let the urgent crowd out the important”.
January 1, 2011
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 28, 2010
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”.
September 7, 2010
One morning recently, a good friend called saying she might come and visit with a common friend of ours during the afternoon. I decided to bake a cake I quite enjoy for its flavour first and then because it is so easy to prepare. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it :
For a round baking tray (middle size)
1 pack of puff pastry
200 gr (2 cups 1/4) of ground almonds
1 cup 1/2 of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of cinamon
1 pinch of salt
Mix all these ingredients
Then roll out the pastry on the baking tray (use a fork to make a few holes on the pastry)
Spread the ingredients you prepared onto the pastry
Pre-heat the oven at 200/230 °C (400-450°F)
Cook for 25 minutes
Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving
This pie tastes even better if you bake it one day in advance.
Some of you may think my almond pie looks a bit “burnt”… Well, almost but not really. I can assure you it tasted delicious ! And why should it look like this ?? That’s the question. You see, I was reading. A specially dangerous chapter that kept me totally concentrated on the story. At the same time I vaguely smelled something just as dangerous coming from the kitchen “Oh ! mon gâteau” (my cake) ! I rushed to the kitchen, book in hand of course (in case I would forget it somewhere on the way…) and I saved the almond pie from a very hot oven. Then I went on reading waiting for my friends.
“Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow” by Peter Hoeg is the book I was reading with great interest and more as “le gâteau de Babette” (Babette’s cake) was in the oven and requesting immediate attention ! I could not have been further from my kitchen. In fact Smilla, the fascinating main character in this book, was secretly - and dangerously - going aboard a ship in the darkest night you can imagine. She was persistent in doing her own investigation about a mystery death. The story takes place in Denmark (Copenhagen) and Greenland, two countries I don’t read about enough and I thought this book would be a good opportunity. It was, definitely so. And much more than that! This reading just cut me off from my surroundings for a few days, so exciting was the story. It is not a recent book, I had heard and read about it but somehow had missed it. Now it is done and I thorougly enjoyed its reading. I hope some of you did too or will do so soon !