windows

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 !

A sea of fog

January 1, 2011

A large sea of fog filled the valley for the last sunrise of this year.Slowly but surely it will disappear…Tomorrow morning when the New Year will start, I hope there will be plenty of sunshine for your eyes to shine and your heart to feel warm.HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

BONNE ET HEUREUSE ANNEE

A hint of Winter

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”.

Stanley Horowitz

Summer heat (2)

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.

The heat like a haze over the wheatfield…

Here is something very interesting for all of you who visit. How about  joining in on a photography assignement  by  Scott Thomas ?

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/

Below is a link for more information. Everyone is invited !

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/assignment-8-travel-photography/#comment-4413

In love

February 14, 2010

A young couple looking into each other’s eyes with so much love 🙂

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.

Here is  is the  castle of Gruyères in Summer and in Winter. I have seen it many times but can’t help admiring this site whenever I am in the area.

Happy Valentine Day to all !

Back from the Alps

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 !

A last look at the Rhône Valley in the plain below before closing the shutters at night. Dreams can only be good 🙂

Skies

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.

Texas mai-juin 2008 069“The world could have been as simple as sky and earth”

André Malraux

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.

vastness

“There are more things in the sky and on earth than your philosophy can dream of”

William Shakespeare

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.

Fall, 21.10.07 023“Hope is like a night sky : there is no dark corner where the obstinate eye will not discover a star”

Octave Feuillet

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.

Patch of sun“As long as you are happy, you will have many friends.

But as soon as the sky will darken, you will be alone”

Ovide

Grazalema 2Grazalema. One of the most picturesque and important villages in the Sierra de Grazalema (mountain area).  One of the many “pueblos blancos” (white villages) in the province of Cadix, Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia is the Spanish area where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea in Tarifa, the very Southern part of Europe. Andalusia is also a country of mountains and valleys, not unlike my own country, Switzerland.

Nothing is more enchanting than discovering one of those white villages behind a steep curve of the narrow winding mountain road. They look like  brilliant jewels nested in a box that would be the pine forest or the rocks. Truly magnificent ! The “pueblos blancos” are generally built on hills so that its inhabitants would  see from afar any unfriendly visitors, troops would be better said.  Some villages are still surrounded with ramparts, the protection against invaders of the past.

Sierra de GrazalemaThe Romans conqueered this area and then  Berber tribes (from Northern Africa) took it over in the 8th century. A special craft, weaving woollen blankets, was developped at the time and it is still maintained today. The local factory used to employ 5000 workers in the 19th century.

GrazalemaMost of Grazalema’s inhabitants live in small white houses with colourful tiled roofs. The narrow paved lanes  were not built for cars . There is hardly enough space for a vehicle. Those villages are meant to walk through, stop and chat with friends, sit in front of your porch, admire your neighbour’s flower decoration or share the latest news. Time seems to have slowed down although this beautiful  area  is popular and very much alive when  visitors come for holidays. Mountain climbing is wellknown up there.

Grazalema 1

People staying there nowadays go to work in larger cities down in the valley. Or they live on craftwork; they also produce meat, a delicious one. Goats, pigs and cows seem to own the pastures. I also tasted goat cheese produced locally as well as olive oil, exquisite in  salads or on a slightly salted toasted  bread at breakfast. Well worth trying ! The blankets that are woven by the women and sold in the villages are still the very same than the ones you can find in Northern Africa.

Driving down from la Sierra de Grazalema and back to the hill at Sindhura’s Hotel, my head was spinning with all I saw between ocean and high mountains. What a diversity in  a single province ! Andalusia, the most Southern part of Europe, is a place I enjoyed visiting immensely for the friendliness of his people, the blending of ancient cultures and religions – Islamic and Christian, the variety of landscapes and food, the way of life. To me, it seemed that people knew how to take time when needed: stress and rush (apart from the big cities) seemed less apparent.  Four hours away from home and a complete change of scenery. Truly magnificent.

Sindhura Hotel, in Muela, near Vejer de la Frontera (Cadix province), was a heaven of peace after a long day of visits in the cities and towns around Cadix. Close to the ocean and the mountains, it is the perfect place to spend a few  days  in  Andalusia. The small hotel is situated on a hill, in a quiet environment.

Sindhura 7

Anna and Alejandro have restored an old house and transformed it in a most welcoming hotel. Anna lived in India and Malaysia for years, she cooks Indian food too. What more could I have asked for ? And she spoke perfect English which was so restful (I speak French with too little knowledge of Spanish, unfortunately). I really loved this place  which gave you  a feeling of well being. When you sat on its terrace facing a white city along the ocean far away, you just felt so good and relaxed…

Sindhura 2

Sindhura 3Sindhura 5Sindhura 6

on the edge

June 28, 2009

on the edgeThere is this village up in the Alps,  a hamlet really, only a few chalets almost hanging from the steep slope. Hardly anyone lives there nowadays. It used to be a larger village where families of mountain farmers made their living in growing wheat, rye, vegetables on terraces.  Goats  provided milk and cheese and mules were the only means of transportation. No easy life up there but the necessity to cultivate every inch of soil.chèvreWhen I am in the area, I often walk to this village on a small track along a narrow irrigation canal. Water ! so precious at all times in such an environnement. The canal is called “bisse” over there and it is built in the same way as the Arabs did in Northern Africa, in the Atlas mountains. Arabs who did travel as far as the Swiss Alps  many centuries ago and who shared their knowledge about water supply.

bisse sous VerreyIn Summer the sun is hot in this micro climate. Coolness is provided by the gentle flow of the water in the canal and the shade in the woods. Tourists have discovered this pleasant walk  and enjoy hiking along the mountain slopes for miles. I love it up there. In all Seasons. In Winter it is easier to do snowshoeing. The silence is  palpable. Hardly any birds around but the mountain ones or those who did not migrate to warmer climes.Verrey, sentierIn the late Fall, I like to bring a book with me, sit along the track and read. Often my eyes lift from my reading and just look and admire this unique landscape all around. Sitting on the edge of the mountain, somewhere between sky and earth. The mountains towering above and the valley deep down below. I have walked on this path countless times, it is never the same and always a renewed pleasure, a deep gratitude for such a world we inherited and have to protect.verrey hameau

Almost snowed in

January 11, 2009

almost-snowed-inHello  and welcome to my blog ! Happy New Year to everyone !

I am Isa from Switzerland. This is from this spot in the Swiss Alps that I saw the first day of  2009 coming, the sun lit up this mountain on the opposite side of the valley and the day started beautifully. A sign maybe that this new year may be as bright as the moments  experienced up there ?  Who knows… There will be joy and sadness too but let’s wish that Hope will always be present. And Peace too. The kind of Peace that starts in your heart and spreads all around. These are my wishes for you and yours wherever you are.

The cosy chalet was almost snowed in.  Nothing but silence, occasionally the sound of a crow or a blue jay. Barely a few tracks, animals, snowshoes, skis. Cars were not exactly welcome on that morning, snow had fallen all night long and paths were invisible. A slow start of the year, peaceful hours to enjoy the present moment. There were quiet talks around the breakfast table, a smell of coffee and toasted brown bread but mostly the amazement and utter pleasure to find oneself in such a unique landscape, a snowy terrace between sky and earth with mountains as neighbours.