Dormancy

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 :

http://www.lavaux.com/

vignes, guérite

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.lapin, tortue

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.chantier

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.terrasse, neige

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.

hérisson, hiver

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.

fatigué

Sleep well, greedy little one 🙂

How do you think my own dormancy looked like over this past month ?

Just like this. Books. Lost in books of fiction, history, biographies, memoir. A few have been read and enjoyed a lot. Others’ turn will come soon.books, Jan. 2013, HDR

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The pace of nature

December 15, 2011

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” (Ralph Waldo Emmerson).

Patience was  really needed to fulfill Scott Thomas’ last photography assignment for this year  http://viewsinfinitum.com/2010/12/08/assignment-seasons-2011/ The aim was to picture the same view during our Four Seasons and see the changes nature brought to a particular place in our surroundings. I chose a view close to me and that I love all year round: the landscape I see from   my kitchen window.

I started taking pictures in December  2010 on a day when snow fell like in a fairy tale. Snow flakes kept falling silently day and night leaving a strange quietness over the landscape. The bare rowan-tree outside the window became heavy with snow and some of its fragile branches broke. Gusts of wind brought snowflakes onto the window and they stayed there, frozen around the wooden frame.

“Winter teaches us what it means to close one phase of life so that we can begin something else, totally different, totally new. It gives us the joy of beginning over and over again throughout the whole of life.”

April changed the view from my window. Green fields dotted with dandelions and buttercups, the first soft green leaves opening slowly in the rowan-tree and a pot of daisies decorating the windowsill. Not much warmth yet but more light and the beginning of a long awaited Spring.

“Spring teaches us patience. Things – and we, a well – grow slowly. Do not overvalue the speed that races to produce what the heart is not yet wise enough to use well.”

Summer in a blazing heat around midday. Everything is growing wildly in the garden, the wheat fields  are looking almost white under the sun and bunches of red berries are now hanging in the rowan-tree for the great pleasure of lots of birds. This is the end of Season for daisies, geraniums will replace them later.  I often sat  in the shade of the ever present rowan-tree in this inviting folding chair.

“Summer teaches us that to have the fullness of life – great tastes, good fun, warm sun and wild abandon – we must have less of it than we expect. Too much of anything sears the soul.”

Fall and its warm colours;  leaves are turning yellow and rusty on the rowan-tree, purple heather has replaced  geraniums on the windowsill and a small mapple-tree is showing its autumnal dress. The fields are still green but with a touch of gold,  at sunset a light haze emerges from the  forest in the far. Almost all ripe red berries have been eaten by the birds preparing for a long migration to the South. Happy and excited reunions in the branches and a carpet of little red fruits on the ground.

“Fall teaches us the value of resting our minds as well as our bodies, the value of readiness, the value of transition. In all the in-between phases and places of life, we are given the time to allow our souls to catch up with our restless energies, to take stock of the present, to get sight of all our possible futures and choose between them.”

Thanks so much Scott for choosing this  theme for your last challenge this year. I took many pictures (with different cameras)  at each Season before choosing these four ones. I love the way Nature looks like through this opening. I  surely missed  a special light or a moody sky but generally this is how my Four Seasons would appear to you from my kitchen window. Although sometimes you may have some surprises…

Like this silent cat, sitting on a woodpile and  observing me patiently behind the window as I was preparing breakfast one morning. When I finally saw him, I could not help but opening the window and giving  him some of Nino’s kibbles. Behind me there were loud howls of protest ! Just an example of an early morning in my kitchen.

All quotes are taken from  Joan Chittister’s monthly Newsletter (The Monastic Way) and I thank her for letting me share them with you.

My hometown history

May 24, 2011

Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

My  hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I  have  enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town.  I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in.  My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.

As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian.  A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :

https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/ulysses-books/

This is the old part of Fribourg  on a rather grey day. The medieval town was  was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine  river  borders two areas in my country: the French and the German  parts.  Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students.  Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.

Various bridges cross the river meandering around the old town.

Apart from a winding road,  there is a funicular (1899) that connects the ancient town to the newer part above the hill. No motor but recycled water that acts as counterweight.

This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.

A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal.  Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies,  birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.

By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ? 🙂

Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country  in search of a job in town.  Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of  the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.

Just an old pub about one of my idols 😉  “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.

A window from another time… Pretty old dolls, second hand books, ancient CD’s and other fancy dusty objects.

Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…

… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”.  They were preparing for  a traditional celebration with members of their community,  an important one in our city.

Are you tired after the visit  ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures,  languages and times.  Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.

Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.