A path that goes almost unnoticed, deep in the woods, looking like a narrow trail  from ancient times. And yet when you walk slowly and consciously along this uneven track, your imagination can see things…

 like the Green Peeks’ Grotto

the White Elves Mounta sculpture of Life Lines Memoriesa Trunk Garden in the SpringtimeDSC03676a mossy and welcoming Natural Sofa

the soft  Archway leading you back  to the Forest main trail

Trees in their Spring Glory

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What a delightful and inspiring walk in the Spring !

Happy joyful, colourful Easter time to all !

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Following my previous post, off we go further across South-East Asia,  thanks to the pictures sent by JB&FL. They have been flying over the Indian Ocean to one of the most interesting  and picturesque island to visit : Sri Lanka. Layers of sand, waves and water as far as the horizon. Are you ready to follow them ?

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Let’s start with a cool drink on a guesthouse balcony. Lush greenness all around. I imagine the birds singing joyfully, peoples’ voices coming up from the gardens and houses nearby. Sweet flowers scents and maybe just a light breeze. Inviting, isn’t it ?

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These wooden decorations and paintings made me immediately think of fabrics. Yes, you know my passion for quilting and materials. I searched in my various boxes of materials  for inspiration. I found some exotic pieces that somehow I think are related to these patterns.Photo 22.03.17 11 29 38Here they are : who knows what these fabrics will inspire me someday ?…DSC03633

What a majestic alley of tall, imposing trees that reminded me of a poem by Charles Baudelaire.

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“Nature is a temple where live pillars, Sometimes whisper confused words, Man walks across it through forests of symbols, Which observe him with familiar looks.”

Excerpt of the poem “Correspondances”. Underneath is  a view of a small part of the Toolangi Forest Center, Victoria, Australia. A wilder kind of temple of eucalypts.

.Toolangi

What a beautiful  and colorful sight ! So many spices and Ceylan teas  and oils and pretty looking wooden spoons and so much more from this faraway island. It  makes you dream and wish you were there. I can just smell it all ! Quick, let’s  prepare a meal I love for  its taste and all the scents that will be wafting  from the kitchen. Traveling can happen over short distances too;)

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Here is a favorite recipe of mine : sweet potatoes and  zucchinis sautés with some olive oil in a delicious blending of spices : shallots, garlic, ginger, curcuma, coriander, cumin. I added a tomato to get more juice.  Mix it all and… Bon appétit !  Tasty as can be.DSC03629

Traffic in town, pretty looking taxis, special architectural style in the buildings: by foot or in those sometimes overcrowded   buses, there are surely many interesting places and sites to visit.Photo 22.03.17 15 08 03

And when you are tired of the heat and pavement,  why not  enjoy some cooler moments in the magnificent Botanical Garden of Kandy, together with many schoolchildren and their teachers ? Who  do you think are the noisiest ones ? Birds or kids ? Joy is in the air for all, certainly.

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I was fascinated by these pictures of trees. Their strength, the soft look of their leaves, their intricate branches reaching far out, twisted and so artistic at the same time.Photo 23.03.17 14 20 42Let’s share these peaceful images to end this present travel that I hope you enjoyed as much as I did. Our next destination will be quite different. I look forward to show you some more pictures that JB&FL will generously and thoughtfully share with us. Thanks a lot to both of them and good luck for your next journey.Photo 16.03.17 17 03 52

Altitudes and contrasts

March 19, 2014

Over the past weeks it seems like I did  nothing much but come and go between the mountains (4429ft) and the plains (1480ft) and yet I can assure you a lot happened in-between ! The seasonal flu’ hit several family members I looked after; Spring cleaning fever hit me too, as well as clearing out. I also took time to visit with friends here and there. During these constant trips up and down the valley, I became interested in  comparing the changes of Season according to the different altitudes.

The tall and almost bare larch trees in the Alps; snow melted in places but no green buds yet.arbres-mâts

A forest of slender masts in the town of Morat, at the edge of a lake. The boats are stlll protected from the cold and the frost that can cause so much damage in Winter. Soon they will sail on the lake though.

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Under an unusual mountain fog, the slate roofs of the chalets are still covered with a thick layer of snow.

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whereas the old red tiled roofs of the ancient houses shine under the sun near  Morat.

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Snow flowers over 4000ft

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and  Spring first pink blossoms at the lakeside.  So welcome !

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Someone you know, my Nino, is almost taking off a steep slope in the mountains, a simple joy he never gets tired of,

Ninio, snow

and a thirsty dog (20°C on that particular day) taking a bath and drinking water at the edge of the lake, after playing with his master on the grass.

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Typical Winter activity…

hiver-pelle

and early Spring relaxing moments at the lake.

DSC00268Such are my landscapes at the moment. Winter is not yet over (far from it) and Spring is starting to shine down in the valley. I even saw apricot trees in bloom, a rare sight at the end of March. I wish you happy moments, joyful colors and a warmer sunshine in a blue sky.

En route for Spring !

A bus in the snow

December 3, 2013

It seems like a short while  since I wrote about Fall. Now Winter has arrived bringing snow, freezing temperatures and pleasures many look forward to. I have not been very present on my blog lately and I regret it. Troubled times and sad events kept me away. Sometimes you cannot help but just going along with the flow of life and all it gives you, good or less so. I missed reading your own blogs and sharing more of my thoughts and images. Recently though I had the opportunity of taking a few pictures and I thought I would share these moments with you.

It was the first day snow fell. I sat on one of those bright yellow postal buses driving up to a chalet in the mountains. It is a drive I always enjoy for the  breathtaking landscape and the comforting  feeling of not having to drive myself on the slippery  roads of this Season.DSCN0976

Few people were in the bus: not even ten of us including the driver. There were mostly young people  studying down in the valley and going up back home in the late afternoon.postal bus

Suddenly, exactly at this spot on the road, one of the four snow chains that equipped the large wheels of the bus broke. The driver stopped the engine and went out to see the damage. He did not look really happy as he started to replace the chain; his vehicle had just been thoroughly checked before Winter and he was surprised this should happen. We, the passengers, sat patiently, waiting, reading, listening to music or looking at the landscape. That was me.

snow tracks

I liked the blending of shades, golden trees surrounded by white fields. Snow had started falling again. A snowplough overtook us in the curve, the truck driver stopped and offered his help. “Thanks, it’s all right” our driver replied, “I’ll manage” ! And the truck  went off, a long evening of work ahead of him.

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The  snow fell on and on, softly but steadily. By then we were on our way again, very cautiously. Calmness was all around, a beautiful landscape and hardly any car on the road. I felt safe and warm in the bus and did not mind the delay.chalet, neige

I was looking at a few chalets on the way and imagined how cosy it must feel inside, around  a fireplace maybe, as snow was covering paths and mountain pastures.

Salins

The road was barely visible. Few vehicles had driven there since snow fell in the morning. It was slippery and the driver was extremely careful and slow in handling the bends and downhill slopes.

snowy roadYet it felt good being driven in such a beautiful and quiet environment. I trusted the driver and enjoyed the nature all around us. No more music  nor chatter in the bus, the only noise was the  sound of the big chained wheels on the crisp snow.  A dreamy and silent drive, one that brings peace to your mind and makes you feel good in your heart.forêt, neige

I would have loved to take a picture of the yellow bus in the snow but by the time we reached the village we were heading to, it was real dark. Our HD – Hero Driver – was not in the mood for a picture, too tired from so much concentration on the driving. Nice as he is, he promised I could take a picture  next time I am on his bus.

Please, excuse the poor quality or the images (too many reflections from the bus windows).

Greenness in the city

August 14, 2013

Another day in Portugal. After the city of Porto, its harbour and the Douro river, how about spending some time in a luxuriant park of Porto and in Coimbra’s Botanical Garden ? It was founded in 1772 and is part of its very ancient University. More about the beautiful city of Coimbra later on.Coimbra, jardin botaniqueWon’t you come into the garden, I would like my roses to see you.” Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) said to his future wife Elizabeth inferring that she was more beautiful.

Coimbra, meditation
I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself.  And I find sufficient purpose for my day.  ~Robert Brault.

Coimbra, tons roses
In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.  ~Dodinsky

Coimbra, fleur jauneThe temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.  ~Basho

Coimbra, serresThe mystery of a glasshouse… What kind of world is growing  under its roof, brilliant patchwork of glass tiles ? What universe shall we discover as we open the door ?

Porto, jardin des plantesGive me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.  ~Walt Whitman

Porto, eucalypts
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Coimbra, oiseaux du paradisBread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.  ~The Koran

Porto, olivier

Even when seen from near, the olive shows
A hue of far away. Perhaps for this
The dove brought olive back, a tree which grows
Unearthly pale, which ever dims and dries,
And whose great thirst, exceeding all excess,
Teaches the South it is not paradise.
Richard Wilbur
Walking in a botanical is always a deep pleasure for me. Looking at Nature in so many different forms is enchanting for the eyes and the soul. Gardeners have been working in the same alleys for centuries, students from the nearby University have observed, studied and written about the life  of plants – often a secret for a visitor.  I walked and sat in a garden in Portugal. Yet much of the  world  was present around me. A palm tree  from New Mexico was standing  beside a mighty eucalyptus from Australia, its strong, unmistakable scent reminding me of the Australian bush. A Chinese bush was blooming along a colorful  rose garden from Southern countries. The olive tree – last picture – was the “ancestor” in the garden : if I remember well it came from Israel and was about 1000 years old.

My garden is my favorite teacher.  ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com

It’s all about colors !

November 17, 2012

If you read this…

you will know that Scott Thomas’ new photography assignment is about

“Color Composition”.

Please visit Scott Thomas’ blog here :  http://viewsinfinitum.com/2012/11/07/assignment-22-color-composition/ for more information. Deadline to send your pictures is : November 21st, 2012; this challenge is the last one Scott is presenting to us this year. Come and join us ! Thank you Scott, it is always so interesting to share our pictures from all over the world and learn more about photography.

Here are a few pictures I would like to share with you for this assignment :

On a dull Winter day in the South of France, the overall colour in this small alley was beige but for this man’s  striking red scarf and the bright blue gate.

My favourite time for taking pictures is at sunset. I think it brings out depth and brilliance in any colour.

Autumn offers so many possibilities for displaying colours.

An opening to the  light in an ancient church. I particularly like the contrast between architecture and nature.

A magic window in The Cube of Melbourne. Another world is created by the colourful reflections between sky, lamps and decorations.

A week of snow

December 7, 2010

The Blues of the Nets. No cheer, no crowd, not much around these days but a lot of snow and a few noisy crows watching over deserted nets.

A snowy forest star just as lovely as in Summertime.

Braving  wind and  snow on the coldest day of the week (-7°C).

Dialog between four (not too friendly)  eyes :Dog to Cat : “Hey Chubby ! You’re on my territory ! How d’you like our new chaseground, by the way ?”

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 🙂 !

Random views of a morning walk

September 13, 2010

As every day, Nino-the-Beagle and I went for our morning walk. It was still raining a little after the violent storm of the night before.Small drops of water were shining on grass and flowers,   the coolness of the air definitely announced a change of  Season.

There are always the usual stopovers on the way. Nino so enjoys following tracks and investigating them further (down). He loves  digging furiously, puffing and digging again with great insistence. Sometimes he lifts his stubborn and cute head and looks at me as if saying “I know “it’s” here, not far, I’ll get it,  just wait !” And on he goes, digging happily and throwing earth into my shoes.

As he was searching underground, I was looking up to the sky, a lovely blue sky washed by the rain. There was this cloud as big as a vessel sailing towards Northern skies. I wondered where it was heading to and what shape it would take on arrival.

I am always fascinated by the shapes and moves of clouds. Endless transformations.  When the sun shines through them…

… clouds seem to take another dimension, they become more alive with shades, transparency and depth.

Later I stopped at the bottom of this tree and sat on a bench. Above in its branches there used to be a sort of small wooden platform. I never knew  if it was meant for hunters or for bird watchers. As I looked up though I saw only pieces of broken wood, the hut had been  destroyed by the storms or by somebody, I don’t know. It looked a bit desolate.

Nino was beside me looking down – again – at something that seemed to interest him a lot. It was a  stone that looked like a nicely wrapped parcel, a small gift of nature. Maybe this is what he thought too ?  and did not know where to start  opening it and chewing at it 😉

It was getting close to lunchtime. I had a risotto in mind. Those mushrooms were tempting but just not safe enough for me to pick and add them to our meal …

Storm was looming again over the forest and the fields. Dark clouds,  a few drops of rain. It was time to get back home at a fast pace. Which we did but not quite fast enough. Half an hour later we arrived home. Soaked.

Just a few thoughts of a morning like many others, yet different, unique in so many ways even if I know this area.  Unique in the way I felt on that particular day and how I looked around trying to be really present during those privileged moments.

“I am at home, I have arrived

There is only here and now.

I feel strong, really free,

I find refuge in myself.

I am at home, I have arrived”

This is what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “the meditative walking”.


Slowing down

August 16, 2010

This post is my contribution to  the new photography  challenge assigned by Scott Thomas, http://stphoto.wordpress.com; its theme is related  to Travel Photography. On the following link you will find  the necessary information if you want to join us. Everyone is welcome ! Photos are to be posted until September 8, 2010.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/assignment-8-travel-photography/

For me, Hauterive is not  a faraway place to travel to, 15kms at the most from my home near Fribourg, Switzerland (South of Berne). More than a travel in the usual sense of the word, I would call it an “inner journey”. As soon as you leave the main road leading to the Abbey of Hauterive, you enter a small domain where peace, silence and nature help you slowing down. You don´t even realize it but the way you walk down the path leading to the Abbey is definitely more slow.

I did not meet many people as I strolled under the forest archway. It was a weekday; on Sundays the monastery welcomes many visitors coming to the 10am mass celebrated by the Cistercian monks  in the Abbey founded in 1138.The community of Hauterive is a haven of peace. Whenever I  need some quietness or just a little time for myself , I love to go and sit in the garden in front of the Abbey. Parts of this garden are closed to the public and reserved to the monks. Pilgrims on their long way to St- Jacques de Compostelle in Spain may stop there for the night.Between light and shade, some benches welcome people who come there for a pause in their day. Some – for their own particular reasons at a period of their life – can stay for a longer time at the Abbey and live with the monks according to their rhythm and spirit.  I cannot speak for them but personally I always feel a great inner peace as I stay there, outside or inside the church, also when walking along the river.

This is a view of the Abbey (at the back) and the farm (in front). The monks´s monastic life is essential  (“ora et labora” – pray, work and also fraternal life). The monks also cultivate a certain form of relationship with the exterior world.  Over the centuries they have valorised agricultural land  so  that they can sell their various products which bring the necessary revenues for their subsistence.Silence is appreciated in the areas where the monks are praying, meditating.

Hauterive Abbey (which means “high banks”) is located near a river, the Sarine. It flows quietly; people like to come and spend the day at the edge of the water.  I saw fishermen trying to catch  trouts. Cistercian monasteries  were often built near a river in rather secluded areas. Maybe they used rivers as a way of transportation for their goods to be sold in the towns nearby ? It was often done so in the Middle Age when roads were  unsafe.

To reach the Abbey you can either walk down a peaceful forest path or use  those  old wooden stairs. They have been restored of course and if they could talk, they would tell of all the people and the countless  steps up and down over the centuries. The walls are original with an occasional patch of new cement and paint here and there. No  straight lines for them but slight curves,  a sort of imbalance as if they carried the weight of time and events.Let´s  enter the Abbey itself through the  main porch decorated by a fresco.  I visited Hauterive several times over the years; for this photo assignement I came on a sunny morning which soon turned out to be a rainy one. The colours would have normally been much brighter.

I never took any pictures inside the Abbey but the monk I asked about it said it was all right. Those  are the stained glass windows on the South side of the church, their bright colours subdued under the cloudy sky.  The “rosace” (rose window) is very striking.

Rose windows are particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France. Their origins are much earlier and rose windows may be seen in various forms throughout the Medieval period (Wikipedia).

There were very few people inside the Abbey. I sat for while on the chair on the left. On Sundays and special  celebrations the nave and the lateral aisles are all taken up. The monks are reunited behind the choir-screen for the celebration. Their Gregorian chant fills the  Abbey. Moments of spirituality and sharing. I feel like saying a sharing beyond all religions,  a sheer spirituality that the site inspires and transcends.  The monks´chant is bringing life to the ancient walls.Leaving the Abbey by the quiet forest path, I was surprised by a bird flying right in front of me ! I still don´t know how I managed to take a picture. But here it is, a graceful bird dashing to the purple flower bush. A lovely ending of my travel with you.  I hope you enjoyed this quiet journey near Fribourg, Switzerland. Thanks to Scott for another interesting photography challenge.

For more information on the Abbey of Hauterive, here is a link to its  site. An English translation is available too.

http://www.abbaye-hauterive.ch/index.php#bas1

poisson d’avril !

April 2, 2010

No, it was not a “poisson d’avril”, April Fool’s Day in English ! But  real snow that had fallen all night long. Yesterday, 1st of April, I could not believe my eyes as I opened the shutters : all white again, silent and very cold. Why do we call it a “poisson d’avril” (litterally translated “April’s fish”) ? On that particular days kids love to play tricks to one another or to adults too ; one that is well known is to hang – very discreetly – a paper fish on someone’s back. It creates lots of laughter, of course 🙂

Looking down from the roof window, I could see someone not a bit worried about the weather… hiding under a snow blanket  and probably waiting for me to find him !

This is the view I have at all Seasons when I open the window. I love it all year round. This is also the start of my daily walks in the woods. A place where people meet to play tennis or soccer or pétanque (French lawn bowling)