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.

A difficult choice

November 16, 2011

The following photos are new on my blog. Some have been posted on flickr, some were just waiting to get out of my archives. They were all taken in 2011 with different cameras.   Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge at Views Infinitum “Your Best Photos in 2011”

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/assignment-16-best-photos-of-2011/

was a great opportunity to bring them to light. Today, November 16, is the last day to present your three best pictures of 2011 (or more) if you feel like participating in Scott’s assignment.

I do not really consider them as my “best” but certainly they are favourites of mine. Each for its own reason. I did not take many pictures in 2011: loss of my  camera (Sony Cyber- shot), loan of another one (Canon) for a while  and finally getting a new one I need to get accustomed to (Panasonic Lumix ZX3). Nevertheless here are some pictures I am  very happy to share with you.

A Winter sunset in front of  my home. The day had been cold and the walk to the forest went at a brisk pace. I love how the light branches of a birch tree added a decorative frame over the landscape.

Snow fell heavily, sky and earth were of the same pale shade.  The dark wooden barn stood out in all this whiteness. I wish this image would make you feel the intense silence that was envelopping  the whole landscape. No cars,  quiet birds, even the wind had stopped howling.  A white silence all around.

The Joy of Spring after a long and harsh Winter ! Countless shades of green under a warmer sun. The soft sounds of grasses  brushing against one another was a real delight to listen to.

“To see one blade of grass at a time rather than simply a mountainside of green makes every element of life important”
Joan Chittister

Nino, of course, is one of my favourite models in photography. On that day, he was keeping a low profile…hiding in a field, looking rather worried. What you do not see are three black and white cows grazing peacefully a little further away. He is afraid of them although he has made progress during the Summer. Cows are everywhere around here, so many pastures for grazing.

I thought he was sleeping after his recent disturbing experience. He looked so comfortable and relaxed in his sleep but as soon as  he heard my “click”, he opened an eye ! “One does not disturb a dog who is sleeping”, we say. Yet, I did, just could not resist taking a picture …

On a sunny afternoon I was driving near a farm. I caught a glimpse of an extraordinary water- jet ! I stopped and looked at this beautiful sight : the sun was shining on the drops of water as if a rainbow had fallen onto the field. The sight was even more surprising when I downloaded the picture. Almost unreal.

A white swan gliding silently on a canal reminds me of a peaceful Summer walk.  There were fishermen, small boats, ducks and this lone swan hoping for some pieces of bread that I did not have.

Last October I visited friends in the South with my family. Ticino state is the only Italian-speaking area in my country. A little bit of Italy here and there. This door is the entrance of a pleasant B&B, an ancient house of the XIXth century, nicely restored and welcoming guests all invited to the same wedding. What a wonderful stay and wedding party !

Autumn arrived slowly, with days that looked like Summer so mild and sunny they were. Yet, little by little, terraces were deserted, leaves started falling, temperatures dropped.  Mornings are frosty and the forest is covered with a precious and rustling carpet, night falls around 6pm and soon the trees will be bare. Snow is just around the corner and next year too. With more pictures !

I hope you enjoyed this short travel through some of my favourite pictures. Thanks for traveling with me  and thanks Scott for another enjoyable assignment.

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 !

Art and raindrops

June 21, 2011

Rain is falling today as it did last night and part of the day yesterday. A light and persistent rain. During the night I woke up and listened for a while to the heavy drops on the roof.  A stormy weather but a cosy feeling inside the house. In the morning a shy  and scarce sun lit up the sky for a  short while;    raindrops,  swept by the wind,  looked like tiny pearls, colourful beads, like the jewels I had seen once in  an artisan´s workshop.Somewhere under those  ancient arcades a door opens into a small art studio. Two artists work there, an artisan jeweller and a potter. They each have their own workshop and share a bigger room for exhibitions. I visited this picturesque old town on a rainy day, like today, and thought why not have a look inside ?

As I pushed the door and went inside,  stones and pearls were glittering inside showcases. Precious gems that I was reminded of as I saw the brilliant raindrops today. Bracelets, earrings, pendants, rings of different designs and shades.

The potter was absent, I was not able to take pictures of his pots, vases, dishes and jugs. A look inside  his small workshop showed an apron and  a potter’s wheel waiting for the craftsman.

In the jeweller’s workshop  a necklace,  as glittering as a river, was set on a bed of pebbles.  The necklace was catching the sunrays and colours reflecting in the window. A beautiful piece of art created with silver and labradorite.

I liked the green pendant with the embedded white flower, as if floating in a jade pond. Each jewel seemed to have a life of its own, one given to them by the artisan.Are you sometimes dreaming of faraway shores ?  I suggest you go and visit Deanna, a great artist from New Zealand. Her jewelry is inspired by the shores and beautiful  nature on her island.  http://www.deanna.co.nz

Is it raining in your part of the world ? Here is a child´s poem that will  surely  keep you smiling 🙂

“If I were raindrops…

I would fall and give kisses

To the world.

Give coolness to the poor.

Cool others who are hot.

I´m clear,

I´m caring,

And I love it when you are happy!

When it´s cloudy

I have fun

And yes, you know…

I am coming.”

Poem by Jaime

 If I

carousel

June 7, 2011

A wonderful carousel of images ! This is what my camera, a Sony Cybershot DSC-W5 has offered me for almost six years. Now it is tired of this kaleidoscope of pictures from here, there and further.  We were a good team, I think,  always close, ready to point and shoot.  Sadly  it is no longer so. My camera is beyond repair and will rest now.

Until I get a new one I will post pictures from the past months and years. During a recent Spring cleaning, I was happily surprised to see how many pictures deserved to be brought to light.  Sony did a  good job  indeed ! I look forward to sharing with you some of my earlier pictures.

Let’s embark then for a another trip on the carousel and for more images  that I hope you will enjoy.

Here is a very old carousel in an open air museum in Ballenberg, Switzerland. It could have been made in Germany according to the style of its paintings.

As I was walking along the Yarra River in Melbourne, this ancient carousel  was waiting to turn and turn with the music during a big festival. Its decorative panels looked like alpine landscapes. Maybe they were painted by a European artist longing for home ?

A poem for you. Can you remember the music of your carousel, wherever it was ? I remember the accordion, lots of it !

I saw a carousel which went through the sky
With its beautiful horses, its planes and nacelles
And thousands of children of all colours,
Thousands of children laughing happily.

Turn, turn, carousel,
All around the world and show to everyone
That happy children have all the same light in their eyes.

Janine Dufour

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.

Close-up photography

March 10, 2011

Scott’s new  photography assignment at Views Infinitum

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/ is about Close-Up Photography. Feel free to partipate in this month assignment. You will find all related information under this link :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/assignment-12-close-up-photography/#comments

Furthermore, tomorrow  Friday, March 11,  Scott  will be discussing the many ways that can  be achieved for close up photography. Don’t miss it and enjoy participating if you feel so.

I took this picture some years ago at the pond in our botanical garden. New pictures are requested for the assignment so I will try to do my best with my Point and Shoot camera 😉

More pictures taken on the same day around the garden, one of my favourite places in town at any Season.

Time for  a rest in the vegetation. Softness of shades and textures. Some plants still add a subdued colour in a Winter garden.  Soon, it will be highlighted by the sparks of Spring.

Photo assignment

January 17, 2011

Do you think this picture is out of Season ?  In my part of the world, absolutely ! But “Food” is not.  It is a matter that concerns us all daily and everywhere.

I chose this summerly image of  vegetable gardens in a mountain village to tell you about a new photo assignment by Scott Thomas Photography  http://stphoto.wordpress.com/ at Views Infinitum.

All about it – with some very interesting information and advice  on Food Photography – is explained here :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/assignment-11-food-photography/

Have a look and join us before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, January 26th, 2011. Wish you much fun ! Et “Bon appétit” 😉

At a slow pace

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 🙂

Taking time to sit for more reading and leaving aside other activities that can wait a little.

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.

See all I found when I opened the pretty wrapping papers!

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”.

This is the first of her 12 calendar cards. Each month I will share a different one with you. I wish you  a lovely start of this New Year. May it bring  Peace in your heart and mind.

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