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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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

On April 8th, I posted this blog about the colour green in a way of feeling closer to a Spring that was lazying somewhere but definitely not here ! Guess what ? One week later a friend of mine, Karen at

http://karmardav.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/colors-of-your-world/

proposed one of her photo hunts : “Colors of your world”. The deadline is on Sunday, April 28th, please have a look at her blog if you feel like participating. I chose to send this post as my contribution to Karma’s challenge.

St Patrick’s Day has come and gone as well as the green wave that is associated with its celebration all over the world. Originally though it seemed to have been the blue colour. Green is the shade many of us long for at this Season in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is not in a hurry to give way to Spring this year. Personally I cannot dissociate green from Ireland. For having lived there years ago, I remember marveling at  the infinite array  of greens in the Emerald Isle.quilt JOK, trefle

It is  a colour I use a lot when sewing. I find it relaxing.  Like in this small scrappy quilt where I put together some Irish memories. Edna O’Brien’s “Mother Ireland” is the first non fiction and most  personal book of the famous novelist. Her memoir (1976)  includes seven essays  written in her lyrical and sensuous voice. E. O’Brien wrote many other works (she is a playwright, poet and author of short stories) and had to see some of her work banned.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_O%27Brien

“Irish ? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual  country. Perhaps it is that, the unmitigated challenge of landscape, of rock, of meadow, of woodland, of rain and of sheer desolating emptiness that makes people hurry there and hurry from it”.

E. O'Brien, Mother Ireland

There are magnificent black/white pictures in this book. They were taken specially to illustrate “Mother Ireland” by the acclaimed Irish photographer Fergus Bourke.

Another Irish writer and philosopher John O’Donohue, born in the West of Ireland,  expressed so beautifully  what the colour green meant for him in a book: “The Invisible Embrace of Beauty”. Here are some excerpts of a particular chapter  entitled : “Green : The Colour of Growth”.

“One of my favourite images from childhood is of meadows. Often the sheep would be let in to graze there. When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing. It was absolutely carpeted with grass. The colour of this grass was so rich as to seem blue-green. The sheep needed neither introduction nor persuasion; they simply gave in and became instant addicts !”

moutons 1

“Green is the colour of youthfulness; it is full of Spring energy and direction of growth, urgent on its journey towards the light”.Verrey. grange, bisse

“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”

green lantern

“Green is the colour of relentless desire. Even under earth smothered over with concrete, tarmacadam (or if I may add, pebbles), the green blade will rise”.paved street 2

“Nothing can keep grass down, its desire endures. You can find it anywhere, on top of ancient ruins way above the ground or growing in little indentations on top of massive rocks”.green on stone

“It rests the eye, and still remains the colour of the day’s desire”.paysage, C. Breton

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