ISOB: 1964-2017

In 2017 I visited Brussels. Lots of ‘stuff’ has happened there since 1964 when I attended school there. Decide for yourself. Myself, I like the 1964 version better.

One more thing. For those of you in the US, I have written a 3 episode short story entitled ISOB. It is free to read via this direct link–>https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B0BCZ7VF7T

Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea–but it is laced with memories from the 1960s.

It is 100% fiction. Names, dates…pure fiction.

Hope you can enjoy.

Please share your thoughts and memories in the comments.

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3 for 1–a good deal

Another FREE Vella Episode

3 for 1–a good deal: FREE and available now at Vella here–>https://tinyurl.com/3fhvpdsd

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And coming next week Vella.02. A NEW Vella story = North or northwest?

What is it?

Majoring in Landscape Architecture, CJ is in Tangier on a term abroad design study. The visit occurs at the turn of the 21st century, barely before the 9/11 disaster. 

The landscape had always been CJ’s muse. But in Morocco, he did battle with it. He was confused by it. He tried to understand it. Its Oriental roots ran deep across the entirety of north Africa. 

But he discovered that the Moroccan landscape had equally strong roots deep into the dark heartland of west Africa. In Morocco. In the coming Vella, CJ recounts some of his northwest Africa explorations.

Find the FREE Vella episodes here–>https://tinyurl.com/3fhvpdsd 

Want to keep up with CJ’s international landscape adventures and get advance notice of free copies, then click here–>https://tinyurl.com/bdyjwrak

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Free Vella Episodes

Okay–put up my first Vella (American college student in Tangier)–three short episodes(700wds each average)–more to come.

FREE episodes!!!

 But that is not the whole story.

I self-published Tangier Gardens(120,000wds) via KDP select in March and after the 5 day free offer launch (50 downloads) everything has gone to sleep–deep sleep.

I had a bunch of background stories that didn’t make it into the final Tangier Gardens, so I figured to put them together on Vella.

I need some feedback from the Vella episodes. What is missing? What is disappointing? What is good?

Find the FREE Vella episodes here–>https://tinyurl.com/3fhvpdsd 

Find Tangier Gardens here–>https://tinyurl.com/2p9e66xm

Thanks

Health, good health

*Health, good health*

Everybody wants it; but can health, good health be seen?

I’m not talking about humans.

This is about plants. And it is not a discussion about the definition of beauty or the definition of good health.

It is rather about what our eyes can observe. See a beautiful plant. See a beautiful flower. We are accustomed to those.

But something happened to me the other day on a walk. Our local weather has been good: sunshine, warmth and deep gentle rains. Locally, one finds in many home gardens well maintained topsoil–mulched with animal manures and dug in every year.

What does that mean? Healthy plant growth. And even with very common plants, their health shines. It captured my attention recently. My photo shows that. I hope you can see it.

Unusual perceptions of plants and their flowers? That is what CJ experienced for the first time in my book, Tangier Gardens. If you like plants and their flowers you will like CJ’s story.

Treeline in the mirror

Which photo has the treeline?

1. No treeline, the mountain is not high enough.

2. Treeline, the line above which trees no longer grow.

So, what is a treeline?

Well, Wikipedia can tell you; but the mountains I am looking at are in Switzerland so I’ll refer to the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich for the definition of a treeline.

A mountain treeline certainly is not a line in the common sense. The treeline is defined as the high elevation, climate driven limit of tree growth.

The treeline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at high elevations. Beyond the treeline, trees cannot tolerate the environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, extreme snowpack, or associated lack of available moisture).

It is easy to get into the weeds discussing the geographical, botanical and topographical details of a treeline. Just look at the images above for a general idea and the graphic below for a summary.

Mountain treeline explained

But where does the mirror fit in?

A treeline is natural. It tells about interactions between ecotypes. And that makes me think. Is the treeline a vector or raster? Is it a thin line, a narrow path one pixel wide or is it a broad and wide line with varying gradients, blurs and opacities?

I think the latter. And looking in the mirror at treelines, I wonder…are human cultures like environmental ecotypes? Are they definable on their edges by lines? Raster or vector? Is diversity our strength…or our weakness…or is the effort to define cultural differences a non-sequitur?

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In my book, Tangier Gardens, CJ faced incredible cultural challenges.

The Tangier gardens saved that young man from the relentless, brutal challenges issued by the northwest Africa landscape. It’s an intriguing story about culture, design and humans.

Give it a go.

They just make me happy!

Lime or linden?

I don’t go out looking for trees–but when I’m out sometimes they call me.

This year the Tilia trees’ blossoms came earlier than normal. It was my olfactory pleasure. I could not say no. The fragrance captured me. It made me smile.

An online search of Tilia spp., their floral fragrance and their teas can keep you busy a whole day. Bottom line? Tilia fragrance and perfumes, Tilia fragrance and teas…a deep and mystical appreciation by all involved. No one can describe with absolute certainty what is the amazing fragrance. So, I’ll tell a personal story.

There is a time after the glorious spring greens that a summer tedium green takes over all deciduous trees. Tedium green? That’s the summer green that makes all deciduous trees look the same. They all fade into a dark green, amorphic background. 

This morning it began. Mature foliage on all deciduous trees had grown full size and darkened. It was working–each leaf a mini-plant-factory taking in the glorious sunshine and the CO2 to assure their health and ours.

Here is what I found in town. Unannounced, the nearest Tilia tree–its fragrance descended upon me. The tree was already a physical landmark. I realized it was also a sociological landmark, a local center for relaxation–soothing away anxieties. Its fragrance does that.

In other parts of town, people were climbing into the lower Tilia branches where they collected flowers. They took them home for drying to produce homemade herb tea known for its calming pleasure.

Look for your closest Tilia or lime or linden.

Under the linden, the local landmark where everyone gathers to relax and enjoy the linden flower fragrance.

Summer sunrise on the landmark flowering linden.

Alone, the size of the linden identifies it as a local landmark in town.

When CJ went to study local landmarks in the Moroccan towns (medinas), he learned things about landscapes and gardens they didn’t teach at university. Check out Tangier Gardens for a good read.

As it has for millennia–the rose

As it has for millennia…the fragrant rose…exudes a mellow sweetness that quietly and slowly penetrates the deepest corners of the heart and surreptitiously intoxicates…soothes all emotions. 

…the fragrant rose…

Get close to a fragrant rose today. It is a free pleasure. Let that fragrance enter your being.

When CJ was in Morocco, it was not scent so much as the sights and sounds of the plants that entered his being and took him to places never talked about at university.

Tangier Gardens

Spring primrose

Primula veris

At 2,000 meters above sea level, in the northern range of the Swiss Alps, I rediscovered the spring joy I had experienced three weeks ago, albeit at 500 meters above sea level.

This joy can be discovered anytime, anywhere.

This is the joy that Christopher Janus experiences in the Mediterranean gardens and landscape of Tangier, Morocco. Read about it, muse and adversary, in my book, Tangier Gardens.

Mountain forest spring

I’m lucky.

Out of my living room I see forested mountain slopes. They are steep and, as the crow flies, only 4km away.

So I get to see, up close and personal, the seasonal changes of the forest trees.

High up on the slopes is a forest of evergreen conifers–they climb right up to the tree line, the elevation above which trees no longer grow.

Lowest on the slopes is a forest of deciduous trees–the ones that lose their leaves every winter.

In between is mountain forest of mixed deciduous and evergreen.

From this distance, I rarely see color change in the evergreen conifers.

But the deciduous, that is another story. This time of year as the new spring growth just about reaches full size–their color is a brilliant chartreuse.

As summer sets in, they become darker green and much less obvious in my vision.

I have included 3 images of that mountain forest for you to examine the difference between deciduous and evergreen in a south facing, northern Swiss Alp forest.

  1. From a distance
  2. Medium
  3. Close up

If you get into the landscape and discoveries, you might enjoy reading my recent novel, Tangier Gardens.

Lilac Sunday

Lilacs. Syringa species.

A long time ago–an embarassing number of years–more than you need to know, I worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston in the United States. Their specialization was woody plants. 

They have four hundred named cultivars, varieties and species of lilac (Syringa). Each spring they have a massive public event that huge crowds attend–Lilac Sunday. The event timing varied as climate related events do. Early warm spring meant early lilacs could be mid-late April. Cold and a late spring meant late lilacs could be mid May.

So we watched carefully each year to determine accurately when would Lilac Sunday be.

All that crossed my mind as I was looking and enjoying lilac fragrance everywhere in my home town today. So if I was to call Lilac Sunday, I’d call it this week–Mother’s Day in the USA. 

And the climate? A normal average year.

Go out and find a lilac. Enjoy the blooms and their fragrance. They go by rather quickly as May warms the earth.

For a virtual visit to the lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum, there is a 3 minute video at this link here (Mask not required).

The advertisement for this year’s Lilac Sunday celebration is here.

If you are really into the beauty and fragrance of flowers, please join my email list to get updates on the discoveries of my protagonist, Christopher Janus (CJ) and his discoveries in the landscape, especially the plant world.