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.

chasse-neige

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).

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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

Autumn

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.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/assignment-10-autumn-2010/

There is still time to participate ! Your photos have to be posted before Wednesday, November 24.

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

A gentle curve

February 18, 2010

“If your mind becomes firm like a rock

And no longer shakes

In a world where everything is shaking,

Your mind will be your greatest friend

And suffering will not come your way.”

Theragatha

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