February 11, 2013
Let me share with you a few pictures of a weekend spent in the lovely city of Lucerne (Central Switzerland).
Snow had fallen lightly bringing a soft touch on the roof of an ancient wood covered bridge, the Chapel’s Bridge. A strange sight to see this touristic city so quiet. The cold month of January did not attract many visitors but I enjoyed visiting Lucerne in Winter.
I found this old postcard of the “Devil’s Bridge” over the same river (Reuss) but in the mountains, wild, still untamed, before it reached the bottom of the valley and the lake of Lucerne. The small lower bridge was built in 1707 for people and their mules having to cross the mountainous gorge. In 1830, a larger one was constructed for the stagecoaches travelling across the Alps. Finally a third bridge and a new road have been built in 1956. Still a very impressive sight!
Only a few pedestrians, swans and ducks were to be seen along the lake promenade on this freezing Saturday morning. Some of the large and majestic hotels were closed waiting for better days to welcome tourists.
What a totally different atmosphere in the evening ! There was a concert in the prestigious concert hall of the KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern). A real treat. The musicians of The Festival Strings of Lucerne presented two concertos by J.S.Bach as well as a Bohemian Serenade by A. Dvorak and J. Suk.
I am hoping you will enjoy a part of the “Serenade” by A. Dvorak, “Tempo di Valse”. The musicians are not the ones I heard in Lucerne though but I love their lively interpretation too.
The Carnival fever was already tangible all over the city, here in the main railway station . The celebration was to start on mid-February (right now in fact). Lucerne is well known for his great carnival in my country, as well as Basel.
A few weeks later Carnival has invaded Lucerne. This weekend musicians and the “guggenmusik” groups are playing and dancing in many areas of the city. Here are two music groups, one in Lucerne, the other in the South of Switzerland.
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 ?
January 18, 2013
Hello dear readers and friends,
Just sending you my best wishes for the New Year and letting you know of a new photography assignment for all those who would like to participate. This mosaic shows you the thoughts that immediately came to mind as I looked around my wintery landscape.
Scott Thomas’ first photography assignment this year is about Winter. His question is :
“What does Winter mean to you ?
You will find alll information about this new challenge on Scott Thomas’ blog here :
Deadline for this assignment is January 23rd, 2013.
My contribution will come soooon !
January 10, 2012
The Twelfth Night celebration is barely over and the traditional pancake is now a memory. It is usually baked with ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar and flaky pastry. Sadly, this year I forgot the main attraction: the hidden lucky charm! Five pairs of questioning eyes looked around the table wondering who had swallowed it… I confessed forgetting to put the tiny china king inside the cake before baking it. “Oh well, we enjoyed the cake anyway” was the main reaction.
2 0 1 2 is on its way indeed and I sincerely wish you a good health in a Happy, Peaceful and Hope-filled New Year.
The family holidays spent up in the Alps were very enjoyable. A lot of snow fell before Christmas. Skiers were overjoyed, drivers a little less and I was delighted since I mostly walk along mountain paths, skiing is no longer on my programme. The tracks are so peaceful during Winter contrary to the slopes which are very busy with skiers and snowboarders. These narrow paths are far less visited than in Summertime. Sometimes you might meet another hiker, a few people going snowshoeing or a hare, appearing and disappearing like a white flash.
Depending on the temperatures, some bees hibernate in a hole in the ground from October till April. Another kind of bees winter inside their beehives; the swarm gathers near their supply of honey and with carefully measured flutter they create their own heating. Very clever and precious little insects.
Other kinds of animals will not even dream of hibernating, never even heard about it ! Like this tireless and curious beagle, my Nino, persisting in his continuous investigations no matter the Season and temperature.
Reading, as you know, is very much part of my activities. I received two books : “The Girl in the Blue Beret” by Bobbie Ann Mason. I have not started it yet but am looking forward to doing so soon.
“Stitches from the Soul”, Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South, by Gladys-Marie Fry, Ph.D. A fascinating and moving reading through history and quilting. Most of all it is about “the roles and contributions of slave women to plantation life that had been swept under the rug of history”. (G.-M. Fry). This is certainly one of my most precious books on quilting.
The third book under the Christmas Tree was a “pre-Christmas gift” I offered myself. Not really planned but all the more appreciated. One day last December I went into a thrift-shop hoping to find a lamp for my sewing table. I came out with “Ansel Adams’ An Autobiography”. I am asking you : “Which of you, friends of photography, could have resisted buying this wonderful and rare book ?” I have always admired Ansel Adams’ pictures of nature, B&W treasures I could look at endlessly and just wonder. And now Ansel Adams’ autobiography is in my hands and I am enjoying every page of it !
Grateful I am also
for you, reading these thoughts of mine
for my loved ones
for my three men’s love and thoughtfulness
for everyday’s little surprises
for lessons learnt the hard way
for my boys first drawings, cards and letters to me
for the Forty Shades of Green of Ireland
for Mozart’s clarinet concerto, Adagio
For gingko leaves in the Fall
for my mother’s gift of fabrics
for my unique and favourite sister
for the sea air
for Nino’s loving and almond-shaped eyes
for the Connemara hills covered with yellow broom flowers
for Syracuse in Sicily
for Roy, Juan y la familia
for snow falling silently, lightly
for the birchtrees forests in Russia
for Dvorak, Smetana, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Vivaldi, Bach
for Indian spices
for Italian cuisine
for a simple cabin somewhere
for B. Kingsolver, S. Cisneros. A. Munroe, F. Sagan
for a glass of Gewurztraminer and grilled salmon
for cello music
for the thoughts in my quilts
for my friends, everywhere, at any time
for, for, for so much more !
Have you ever tried writing your liste of people, things, moments, places, music, food, etc. you are grateful for ? There is a lot to learn about oneself, I think.
Thanks to marah for suggesting this “List of 100 Things that give you life, the things that matter”.
February 28, 2011
The day started under a cold mist but with a definite hint of a blue sky above. As often at this Season, mornings look dull and grey. Then slowly but surely the fog disappears leaving behind soft layers of this Winter haze.Off I went to the woods for a morning walk with my faithful little companion, as watchful - and playful - as ever.
It was a quiet stroll, no encounter of any kind although Nino could confirm you there were some deers around, for sure. Unmistakable tracks and scents tickled his nose.After a pleasant and lazy walk through narrow paths and slightly frosted fields, we were back home. One of us decided to take a nap…
… the other went to fetch the daily paper and mail in the letterbox. And then came The Surprise ! A letter from abroad with beautiful stamps that suggested forest, berries and little visitors creeping under the pine trees. I immediately loved those stamps and will keep them in a special little booklet. Smalls or inchies
The content of this letter sent by Gerry in Michigan http://torchlakeviews.wordpress.com/ was even more appreciated !
An elegant handwriting on a card, a fine drawing by Thomas W. Ford : “Queen Ann’s Lace” flower. In Gerry’s envelope I also found two delightful postcards by artist, printer and naturalist Gwen Frostic. The cards are original block-prints by the artist. I simply love them ! Precious art pieces from an amazing person I learned about on the following site. It is well worth reading about Gwen Frostic’s life and achievements.
Many, many thanks Gerry for this thoughtful letter and gifts. If my day started under the Winter fog, it certainly continued under a bright sun This type of “real-mail” is precious indeed.
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 !
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 “
February 7, 2010
Although Winter has its particular beauty, and a dormancy that seems to quieten down everything around you, there is one aspect that I miss a lot : a colourful vegetation. Of course there are some Winter colours that brighten up gardens, parks or forests. Moss, bays, leaves, lichen, cones and the occasional bushes that keep their warm shades all Winter. Leaves or branches. Green is probably the colour I long for more than any other.
It is the time of the year when I like to sew “colourful”. Two projects are on the way – Seminole and calendar quilt – their bright shades are a real pleasure to look at and they add this cheerful mood in the thickest of fogs outside the window. Recently I sewed a small garden for my friend Else in the Netherlands. She loves flowers and her garden is a joy to look at and to walk through.
So I chose amongst my fabrics those flowers I imagined Else would plant in her garden and this is the result :
Flowers from here and there sewed directly onto a piece of green linen, rough edges around the fabrics. I added a special Swiss material with a black cow, some rhododendrons, pine trees and a deer to remind her that she should visit me in the Alps during Summertime
The back of the quilt is also decorated with flowers. I called it “Delft garden” from the beautiful blue and white Delft pottery made in the Netherlands. Those materials were like our Winter, in a state of dormancy in some boxes. Now they are alive on Else’s quilt and who knows ? those flowers may well bloom in the Spring in her garden ?