Summer reading

July 5, 2017

Spring has come and gone bringing sun, rain and even frost that jeopardized, even destroyed many cultures (vineyards and fruits especially).  A great loss for farmers. June went by with temperatures that were as hot as in August (30-35°C – 90-100°F). Now here comes July, a time for holidays, rest or travel,  some walking and…reading. Let me share with you some of the books I chose to bring with me up in the alpine area where I am staying right now. Nature and Ecology have been very talked and written about all over the world recently. So I thought I might as well know more about it and read the followings books.books summer 171.jpg“What a Plant knows”  (or How plants experience life) by Daniel Chamovitz

“The Hidden Life of TREES” by Peter Wohlleben

“The Four Elements”, Reflections on Nature, by John O’Donohue.

For my recent birthday I received a very pretty and detailed guide, with beautiful drawings and  texts about a “Nature Guide to the Mountains”. It has been written and drawn by a group of passionate people who, after having published for years a magazine about nature for young people, decided to go a step forward and publish this precious little book which is both helpful and very informative.

Last but not least, I got for myself another great guide to learn how to draw  animals, flowers and plants in 135 ways ! Imagine that. Drawing is something I really never did since  my children and I sat around the kitchen  table and started drawing something that one of us had proposed to do. And… I was not really the best one of the three although it was great fun. So, I thought it was  high time to try doing better, right ?

DSCN1485.JPGIn the first book I already read, “What a Plant Knows” by D. Chamovitz, the author does not define  ” a vegetal intelligence”  about plants. His question is rather :

“Are plants aware ?” and in fact he writes that they are. “They are actually aware of the world around them and of their visual environment, aware of aromas, aware of being touched, aware of their past”.DSCN1492.JPGNext time you walk through a park or to the woods, ask yourself: “What does this yellow flower see ?  Or what does this grass smell ? DSC03837.JPG“Touch the branches of a beech, knowing that the tree will remember it was touched”. I found this book by Daniel Chamovits fascinating and really enlightening. It definitely brings a new light on my daily walks, makes me slow down and look more closely at plants, flowers, Nature and its wonders. And feel grateful for all our planet offers to us.

Wishing you a beautiful Summer, wherever you are.

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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 !

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

2017

January 1, 2017

DSC03379.JPGHAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL and best wishes for this coming year.

Here are my new calendars for 2017 and some of my little and bigger friends who will accompany me each month. Aren’t they cute, beautiful ? These calendars were sent to me by a few rescue centers for animals. It makes me happy that they found good care and a shelter.

DSC03291.JPGStill no snow in the Alps but frosty, misty mornings that are so cold my wind chime keeps silent. Their sweet voices too frozen to sing. No swinging either.

dsc03349And when Winter rhymes with frost, colors and blue sky..this Season looks and feels just wonderful for your eyes and  heart. How can one not feel good when such a landscape welcomes you in the morning ?

Front cover of my tiny 2017 calendar

Because love, love is never finished,

It circles and circles

The memories out of order

And not always complete.

(Sara Zarr)

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…

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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).

All of a sudden …

November 10, 2013

…Fall was there ! You wake up one morning, pull the curtains and there it is. The birch  tree is turning yellow and the morning feels slightly cooler.DSCN0780A soft haze  envelops the landscape just enough to highlight the changing shades of the Season.DSCN0771The last yellow roses in the garden undulate slightly in the breeze. The day was chilly ; did they get pink petals  from the fresh air ?roses d'automneMore autumnal shades are reflected in a pond. A quiet and peaceful mood to welcome a new cycle of Season.

étang, automneMore autumnal shades are reflected on a pond. A quiet, peaceful mood to welcome a new cycle of Season.pommesBack home from my morning walk,  I found  big colourful apples  in a pot in front of my door. Someone really nice had left them there for me. I immediately bit into one…Simply delicious ! As for the others, they were much appreciated on a pie, juicy and melting in your mouth.  Just a few  small pleasures of the  coming Season. I hope you have just as much, and more, to enjoy.

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

A closer look

March 18, 2011

This is my contribution to Scott Thomas Photography´s Assignment on close-up photography :

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

It is so worthwhile and amazing to take a closer look at things around us. Walking along a mountain path during the week, I tried to look more closely at nature and man-made environment. Here are  a few images I felt like sharing.

A knurl like a spiral in a wooden fence.

A natural sculpture and inspiring patterns on a birch tree trunk.

Spring is not here yet in the Alps. Those are the first buds I could spot on a bush.

Barely out of the snow, a tiny velvety flower  was creeping on a rock.

Spiky-looking needles that are as soft as wool when you touch them : a thick and soft carpet under my favourite tree, the larch.

In a  dry-stone wall  along a stream,  a colourful stone stood out:  white, grey, black, rust shades and rough textures under your fingers.

All pictures above have been taken in the macro mode of my camera, a Sony DSC-W5.

Once again, thank you Scott for this opportunity of looking differently, more closely at our environment.

Last night I  saw a movie at the cinema, a Franco-Australian fable  called : “The Tree”. Instantly this movie became a favourite of mine. I felt like sharing my enthusiasm and emotion with you and  I made a collage  to illustrate it. The first picture shows  a huge tree I photographed in a park of Melbourne. Apart from its size, it has not much to do really with the immense and symbolic fig tree in Queensland where the story takes place. The second picture is a photo of the film poster featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg (Dawn), the main actress in the movie. More  talented  and natural than ever.

This film is directed by Julie Bertucelli and is based on a novel by Judy Pascoe “Our Father  Who Art in the Tree”. This  delightful movie was presented on the closing night of the Festival de Cannes in France recently and was widely appreciated. Marton Csokas (George) and Morgana Davies, an exceptional and talented young actress (Simone) are amongst  the characters that will be remembered.

The story ? I do not feel like saying too much about it… Just know that the story starts in Australia. Peter and Dawn live happily somewhere in Queensland in the shade of their huge and magnificent fig tree. When Peter dies unexpectely, each member of the family reacts in his or her  own way in order to continue living without their dear partner and father.  Simone, their young daughter of 8 years old, believes her father’s soul lives now in the fig tree.  This little girl illuminates the whole film.

I hope some day you will be able to see  this movie made with a rare sensitivity. Queensland’s lanscapes are breathtaking and the photography in the film  is superb.