Portals

I have talked about, that is, written about portals…portals and plants.

What do I mean when I say portals? It is more about what words can not describe. What?

Perhaps you remember some TV shows, Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond…but this is about real life. That’s right, real life.

For centuries, dare I say, millennia, people, humans have spoken about, written and explored the indescribable relationships between plants and humans. Portals is my effort to continue that chain of communication.

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This last week I had a birthday. I received from my dearest friend two books of illustrations by the Swiss, Ernst Kreidolf. Both images in this post are his work. He spent his lifetime addressing the communication relationship between people and plants.

Ernst used gnomes and elves to describe these indescribable relationships.

Let me share some of Ernst Kreidolf’s life story.

He was born over one hundred years ago in Switzerland. He was a classic artist, a pioneer of children’s illustration and picture books…and gnomes in the popular imagination! His magical illustrations have a timeless quality. To this day, his art is still very popular in Switzerland.

Ernst Kreidolf und die Pflanzen

Kreidolf’s famous books first appeared in 1901 Die schlafenden Bäume (The Sleeping Trees), in 1902 Die Wiesenzwerge (The Meadow Dwarves), and in 1903 Schwaetzchen fuer Kinder (Chit Chat for Children).  In 1904 Kreidolf was involved in Richard Dehmel’s Buntscheck, ein Sammelbuch für Kinder (Patchwork, a Scrap-book for Children).  In 1905 the book Alte Kinderreime (Old Nursery Rhymes) appeared followed by in 1908 Sommervoegel (Butterflies).  The latter was highly acclaimed by Hermann Hesse.  In 1911 Der Gartentraum (The Garden Dream) was published.

In 1920 Blumen Ritornelle (Flower Chorus), in 1922 Alpenblumenmaerchen (Alpine Flower Fairy-tales), in 1924 Ein Wintermaerchen (A Winter’s Fairy-tale), in 1926 Lenzgesind (Servants of the Spring), in 1928 Das Hundefest (The Dogs’ Party), in 1929 Bei den Gnomen und Elfen (With the Gnomes and Elves), in 1931 Grashupfer (The Grasshopper), in 1932 Aus versunk´nen Gärten (From the Sunken Gardens) and in 1935 Die Himmelreich-Wiese (The Kingdom of Heaven Meadow).

 His illustrations carry us off to the world of fairytales and dreams, where plants play a leading role.

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One cannot but wonder at his ability in both identifying the key characteristics of plants and giving humans a unique interaction with them.

His legacy endures as a tender ode to Mother Nature’s glory. The best illustrated web site with Kreidolf biography–a fantastic display of his water-color work.

And portals? His work was all about portals.

Three Kings or …

…virgin? Take your pick.

This landscape has been labelled, the Jungfrau Region. The Jungfrau is the virgin. I see it differently. These are the Three Kings.

Mountain peaks from left to right, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

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Snow = Water. Water = King.

But what I like most about this photo is the foreground. On the top of the center foreground hill, see below, is a place to have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie while enjoying unrestricted visual access to the Kings. 

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Look carefully in the right center background to see the Jungfraujoch Observatory at 3,400 meters above sea level.

Stealth

What happened to my beautiful autumn?

Today was one of those fall days when I just had to take a walk.

No mask. No distancing. Just a walk outdoors.

The fresh air keeps me from thinking why so many governments and media outlets want me to be afraid to breathe. Afraid to breathe? Yeah, because somebody might die. I have to be afraid of breathing? Doesn’t make sense.

So I took a walk. On a mountain path suitable for this 75yr old, three years after a stroke, nevertheless, in good health.

Clouds were everywhere. And they weren’t everywhere as I walked uphill.

I breathed deeply the air. The air was influenced by agriculture and forestry management. It was not influenced by bustling cities. When I inhaled deeply. The air felt clean and healthy deep down in my lungs. The entire passage felt clean and healthy.

To me that is not only the basis of life, it is the simplest pleasure of life. I was feeing refreshed, what to speak of fall color and 50 degrees Fahrenheit

Then I was in the clouds. I found myself walking in the sound of clouds. In case you haven’t, you should note that clouds come and go without sound. Without even the slightest whisper they come, they envelope, then they leave. Through the entire experience, the thread of sameness was silence.

But other things changed. As I walked deeper into the cloud, I saw less and less about me. My breathing became labored. Then my mind took over–had I been enveloped by a covid cloud? Hard to breathe–is this my end–is this the beginning of harder and harder breathing–never getting enough?

Then the cloud lifted. Clarity resumed. Unhindered deep breathing resumed. I was no longer afraid to breathe.

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1. In real life these mountain clouds form, dissolve, move at speeds that disable human powers of observation. They are as slow as they are silent.

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2. They arise, grow and dissolve while we are busy thinking. Stealth is their very essence.

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3. In these mountains, it is easy to walk above the clouds–not fog–clouds!

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4. Autumn colors seduce.

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5. Clouds arrive without warning.

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6. They thicken without warning.

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7. Breathing becomes labored.

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8. …and then under labored breathing, the mind troubles. The mind can become our worst enemy. Only proper use of intelligence can harness the mind.

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9. Clouds lifting, like intelligence cleaning out the worries of the mind.

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10. Clarity returns; but clouds are always just around the corner.

And speaking of stealth, I think my freedom to breathe healthy air deep into my lungs, under some debatable guise, may be in real life, stealthily taken from me.

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I looked out the window today. Fall had snuck in, big time. Nearby a huge old linden tree was freely droping leaves. It made me think of snow flakes, large snow flakes drifting down on a day with no wind.

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1.European linden, Tilia x vulgaris

It was mid afternoon. There was still an autumnal warm sun. I had to take a walk.

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2.I wanted to take my peeps for a ride on the nearest lake; but along the way, I became distracted. This image made me think, if I was looking at a city, would I be looking at something as diverse as this? Then I thought green ferns and gray rocks. Such a pleasant combination. Then I headed to the lake.

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3.When I showed my peeps the boat, they said no way. Not sea worthy.

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4.Then they pointed to the ship they wanted. I looked. Instead of the ship I saw the fall color in the backgroud forests.

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5.I followed the forests along the lake edge until I saw this town. Then I thought, no need to go out on the lake. It would be more fun following paths in the forest.

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6.Ahhh, yes, this was my pleasure in the Lauterbrunnen Valley away from the tourist route.

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7.And as usual for me, I had to look not only at the large forest landscape but also at those life forms that were sheltering under the forest canopy. And as I examined, I was unfortunately forced to ask if this was a diverse village. Upon closer inspection…one bite makes you larger and another makes you small…

It was time for me to get back home for dinner.

Obsession…but it feels like a fetish…

A fetish?! …an inanimate object with supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit

I have been living the last ten years in a landscape rich with water, rich with soil and rich with plants, the Berner Oberland in Switzerland. Each day this Berner Oberland landscape inspires me. I am happy in and enthused by this Swiss Alp landscape.

But yesterday, I came across an old folder of images that stunned me. Stunned? Yes, because as I went through all 50 of them, they gradually inserted themselves. Internally, I could not understand how the barren emptiness of the Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter, could elicit such a strange, such a pulsating attraction.

It was just memories, right? Yeah, ten years ago, I lived and worked there for more than a year as the installation manager for the landscape at this resort destination–that had its own memories–but the desert–the Empty Quarter has its own magnetism.

I feel it; but I don’t understand it.

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Credits to the client TDIC, the architecture team of Dubarch/Northpoint, the interior design by Hirsch, Bedner Associates and the landscape architecture team LMS International.

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Comments on the images:

  • Something fundamental, basic. Where there is water, there is life. Where there is no water, there is no life.
  • After water, this Empty Quarter requires protection for safety of life.
  • The sand dunes are the seductive face of the Empty Quarter.
  • Why do you think the Bedouins call it Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter? 

Anniversary

This week was my three year anniversary marking my release from the hospital. Three years ago I returned home for the first time following a stroke and three months in hospital–from stretchers to wheelchairs to walkers to crutches to home.

Then the last three years of physio, ergo and logo. If anyone reading this has friends or family with stroke, then consider this encouragement. Improvements can occur even three years after the stroke.

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The sunflower to me is hope, inspiration and enthusiasm. Growth. Health. The photo is only part of the picture. My wife has planted a garden and meticulously cares for the plants with love as she has me. This photo is the glorious proof. 

Sun + flowers = hope + beauty

Islands in the Sky

Islands of trees in the clouds.

This is not augmented reality.

This is not CG.

This is not AI.

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The clouds make these islands in their own time; and they disappear these islands in their own time.

Cloud time is not human time.

Healthy, yet?

For years I lived in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula and the Bosphor. For years I lived in Switzerland, the Berner Oberland, Jungfrau Region.

The Middle East was always short of mature well formed trees…for various reasons–not native to the Arabian Peninsula and too heavily human populated–all trees cut up or cut down on the Bosphor.

But in Switzerland, the Berner Oberland, Jungfrau Region human population is low and trees are native.

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This isn’t a golf course. This is pastureland abutting a forest. Humans have been managing this landscape, with local records dating back over 700 years. And this is the result. I love it. I feel at ease, peaceful when viewing this landscape because of the pleasing shape of mature trees…for me, it is the hard work of stewardship–taking care of forests and pastures. Sweet!