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.

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.

Spring at the forest edge

You may have been there before–maybe not.

Don’t we all feel joy at the unfurling of the leaves and flowers with the coming of spring?

What happens where the pasture flowers meet the leafy forest?

What is that beauty to the eyes–in the air? 

Does it emanate from the plants?

How does it make us feel better?

Find out for yourselves.

And it happened to CJ. In Tangier Gardens

He describes it. Read about the joy.

https://amzn.to/3HLrtyv

Aicha Qandicha

In my novel, Tangier Gardens, CJ completed his term abroad design study by assembling a series of short stories documenting his unusual Moroccan landscape interactions. This is one of his stories. This is not a fantasy. It was CJ’s real life in Tangier.

Wikipedia describes Aicha Qandicha as a female mythological figure in northern Moroccan folklore.

But this wasn’t exactly describing CJ’s experience. Here’s how he told it.

Part One: We all have one

After I had the cast put on my ankle, I was immobile. My design study had gotten lost in the fog. I was desperate. I needed help. That’s when the Goblet stories began their reveal.

I learned some very unexpected things about myself in Tangier. The most intriguing occurred in October when I engaged in a disciplined chocolate and absinthe meditational cleansing. The cleansing was gentle. It revealed itself through subtle changes, internal realizations.

One morning before sunrise, I had finished the chocolate and absinthe treatment and was sitting quietly in my rooftop terrace garden when I found myself engaged in the strangest bit of internal conversation. A voice spoke to me. That voice spoke from a strange part of my head, near the inner ear or thereabouts.

It said, “Hello, my name is Goblet. I am your chalice keeper. I can help you.”

I needed help.

That was the beginning of a friendship—a kind of crystal ball friendship. I don’t know how else to describe my relationship with Goblet—sometimes there, sometimes not there. I could never be sure. But it was all built around my sense of hearing. Goblet explained the background.

Goblet told me, “There was a time when there was no such thing as white noise. Hearing always has had many configurable adjustment bands that could consciously, subconsciously, voluntarily, or involuntarily filter for hearing improvement. Then, as time passed, as environments morphed adjustment mechanisms failed. White noise and all iterative variations made hearing via air outright painful.”

Goblet continued, “For certain important messages, in order to hear them without extreme and torturous pain, it became necessary to go underwater to hear. Then finally today, resulting from the hard filters, we have so many sounds that are not understandable. It is for our safety that our ears now have a hard fixed filter that limits the sound waves we can hear. The ears’ capacity is only 15% of its total capability.”

Goblet’s historical perspective intrigued me.

Goblet added more, “That hard filter is not the only ear filter. Each of us also has a secondary filter, an intelligent, discretionary filter that is known generically as a chalice keeper. A chalice keeper is an angel—a personality with a duty to protect and to clarify that which appears unknowable in life. Chalice keepers are sexless. They pass on knowledge untainted by human vices.”

Goblet paused, weighing my comprehension, then continued, “You may wonder what is the chalice? It is the low-level network of control that regulates passage and transformations via the sensitive, multi-dimensional connection gates, the ports, the portals between sound waves, the hardware of the ear itself and the neuron transfer of sound via the nervous system in the brain. That control also includes the essential connections to the pineal glad and to the seat of intelligence in the heart itself.”

Back in the US, my world normally was a din. But while in Tangier that din expanded into a multi-layer aggressive—a confusing labyrinth.

While I was asleep, Goblet moved quickly and directly to solve what was troubling me. Goblet always found the way. Goblet found the intended destination by keen hearing.

Every time I went to sleep, Goblet could detach himself from me. Goblet could travel to the places it could never travel with me because in hours of consciousness I functioned as a restraint, as Goblet’s governor. My world fit into the constraints of time and space, while Goblet was free of those constraints. I walk through the world in 85% ignorance of what is around me. Goblet witnesses everything and is there in particular to assist me, should I choose to listen in times of stress and danger.

Chalice keepers are why most of us have magic in our ears. Goblet is why there was magic in my ears. Our ears bring us magic. They suspend time; they suspend place. They control the ports, the portals of connection to all worlds, real or imagined. For me, Goblet was active and motivated because, as a designer, I was an explorer. Chalice keepers are especially keen to help explorers. Goblet helped me. Goblet was my pass to the .

Here is how I came to understand it. Human’s gross sense organs are all severely filtered. The sense organs are limited so that the confusion of continuously multiple inputs does not overwhelm the need to act. If the human sense organs are overwhelmed, the human may become paralyzed—a sort of analysis paralysis where too many new inputs are occurring too frequently to allow for intelligent discrimination.

Goblet filters these inputs for me. Goblet hears everything as it is. Then when I am under stress, uncertain, anxious, Goblet feeds, via sounds direct to the ear, or dreams, or thoughts or ideas, the data to facilitate my discriminating and decision making. Goblet does not decide. In essence, Goblet is like a data base. Goblet filters, then feeds data to me. Then I assess those data and, via free will, decide on my own course.

Goblet is not all knowing. Goblet goes out to gather information. When I am sleeping, Goblet does this. Goblet has limits to travel. Goblet must find and arrange material conveyances while problem solving for me. For transportation, Goblet communicates most regularly with dragonflies and storks. In the scheme of things, they have a duty to facilitate the required travel of chalice-keepers. They and the chalice keepers share knowledge and information without the constraints of time or space or language as we know it.

I was obviously under duress. My attempts to come to grips with the culture of Morocco, the street scene of Tangier, while simultaneously trying to reconfigure my design study caused me ceaseless stress. My goal had not changed. I still wanted to graduate and get on with my life in the professional world of landscape architecture. But my filters were clogged. Noise had weakened me. I had become a rebel without a clue.

Goblet definitely had work to do.

Part Two: In the bled Magrebi

Sometimes all needed was Goblet helping recall what I had slept through in history or geography classes—or books or stories that I had read.

Stork, known locally among his friends as Cico, pronounced seeco, knew he was on call; but he was comfortable sleeping in his nest on the top of an old column in Tangier’s La Montagne neighbourhood. He was on his winter vacation. He liked Morocco, quiet, drowsy kind of place—mild winters—early springs.

Cico was in a languorous daze. Pleasant, he was… then he heard his name being called… he thought, “It’s one of those chalice keepers… they are generally nice… but they have a knack of interrupting my sleep.”

Goblet was eager to get advantage of a large stork—traveling with a stork was almost like traveling first class on a commercial airline—large seats, lots of room, but better. Always a smooth flight; and thus easy to absorb information.

Cico responded, “Hello, who’s this and what’s this—a ride where?”

“My name is Goblet; and with your help I need to get out and into the countryside.”

“Countryside? I can get you there. Hop on. The countryside is pleasant at night.”

Goblet liked Cico’s helpful attitude and asked, “What’s it like here? Do you find it difficult? I was with Aeshna, the dragonfly recently, and we had a horrible intrusion by young humans.”

“No, it’s not bad down here—it’s like a winter vacation. But you can’t ever be sure about human youth. Most chalice keepers down here stay home. Most all the humans are content with their mosques and their mountains—but up north in Europe it’s different. Always dissatisfied, those Europeans—always seeking discoveries, answers. So it is hard work up there. Truth is most of the storks head south.”

Goblet preferred the storks—nice smooth rides—and soft smooth personalities. Not like the dragonflies—but oh, those dragonflies were colourful, beautiful, and riding them was exciting, fast…

“What are you looking for?”

“My master needs to get the aura of the countryside and its importance to humans here.”

“I can help; but first, can you tell me something about humans?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Why is it that humans have such a hard time understanding the good and the bad at the same time? Why do they think that death is bad? Why do they not understand that life begets food for other life and that death is inevitable? I thought you chalice keepers were to help them with these big picture items?”

Goblet, noting the old tendency among storks toward verbosity, had to push gently to get a word in edge-wise. “Humans have this thing called hope and they must nourish it otherwise they have a tendency toward self destruction. Especially when lots of them congregate, they make swirling, massive interventions on the landscape.”

“Ok, we will sort out your master. Everyone counts—one by one. In the countryside, we should visit marabouts. They are filled with human historic endeavour to discover something better in this region.”

“Marabouts—in the countryside—tell me more.”

“The marabouts in the countryside, anywhere, can shelter both good and bad djinns—or either one, or the other… you never knew if no one told you or you had never visited—and over time they change. The bad ones mislead like a rascally boy, just happy to make a fool out of you. The good ones can part the cacophonic curtain of life, granting a visitor temporary peace or provide useful direction for the visitor’s life. Sometimes the same djinn can do either, depending on the attitude, the aura of the visitor.”

“Here’s one. This marabout has a mix of Christian, Moslem and Animist roots. Even so, Christians are not allowed, though some sneak in when no one is watching. This saint bestows barak, good luck on visitors who leave their fluss, their money, and promise to become in this world servants, instead of takers.”

Goblet looked about—looked ok on the inside—Goblet had brought my thoughts and set them on a ledge inside. Goblet and Cico sat still without talking—just listening, just feeling. Then Goblet felt a chill. Both simultaneously noted the creek just outside and downhill from the Marabout window.

Cico said, “There are all different djinns—friendly djinns, nice but dim djinns, confusing djinns, threatening djinns, and djinns ready to cause bodily harm—but a creek next to this Marabout…”

Goblet and Cico looked at each other–they both knew what that meant. Aicha Qandicha— powerful djinn in this part of Africa.

Cico said, “She is always about the sources of water–she can smell the men who are strong, who are saving themselves, who know restraint, austerity…”

Aicha Qandicha could smell that masculine strength from the thoughts, my thoughts which Goblet had set down at the Marabout.

Cico continued, “She attaches herself to strong men. She craves the challenge of undermining them. She knows how to distract men with her beauty and then confuse them.”

Goblet snatched up tightly my thoughts and motioned to Cico. They sped as quickly as they could, away from the creek, up high in the air, away from the humidity that marked the area of the Marabout and the creek, hoping to disconnect from any trail my thoughts may have left behind.

Goblet hoped that Aicha Qandicha would not follow my thoughts back to Tangier. Goblet knew that the last thing I, already redlining with uncertainty—the last thing I needed were attentions from Aicha Qandicha.

***

Read more about Moroccan landscape at my Tangier Gardens Amazon book page.

My favorite graffiti

This is green in real life, IRL.

…no political correctness…

…no social justice…

…no politics whatsoever.

This green graffiti is stone disrupted by plants.

My favorite. Tell me it isn’t beautiful.

Find yourself some.

Favorite Fog

Fog or cloud? This morning, this is what I saw. You might say–fog what’s the big deal.

You might say that if you have never lived among steep mountains in a climate blessed with humidity and precipitation.

Let me get on with it.

On the ground it may as well be fog. Can’t see blue sky or sun. Can only see 50 meters in front of me. Definitely fog. 

Or is it?

I live at 600meters above sea level in that fog.

But from a camera 1300meters above sea level, I am seeing that my ground level fog looks distinctly like cloud cover. A sea of clouds like all of us have seen while flying at 30,000 to 40,000 feet.

For me the question of fog or clouds is one of the pleasant riddles of life. Hope you have found it the same.

In the afternoon the clouds began drifting away or put another way, down river, downstream on the Aare River.

A 31Dec2021 Surprise

Don’t we all need a pleasant surprise? I was given one that I’d like to share with anyone who derives pleasure from the landscape.

Watching the sky in mountainous landscapes in my neighborhood, I am always struggling with clouds or fog. At what point does fog become a cloud? And do clouds ever become fog?

How can I even ask these questions? 

Because in steep mountainous terrain along a river valley whose source, not far away, is in the above tree line, high mountain pass glaciers, I regularly see the life cycle of clouds–the speed of cloud formation and dissolution. 

And that for me is excitement. 

Why? Because the speed of cloud is slower than human patience of vision. 

How often can we look at a cloud long enough to see its swirling edges grow or decline–and then until the cloud disappears or generates from nothing to a huge presence.

Today, 31Dec2021, I had an unexpected present handed to me by the local mountain landscape. 

I saw for the very first time–what I could for certainty define–ground fog. It began last night at sunset. Then in the middle of the night it grew while I slept. By morning, we were enveloped in it. It wasn’t deep but it was thick. 

In the clear sky sunshine, I took a walk to explore how the ground fog moved (more of a slow-motion slither, an exhale, a flow) around the valley floor. 

There is something special about seeing in real life, real time, the life cycle of clouds and in this case ground fog. 

I go through the whole gaia thing and the science of temp/moisture/wind. But in the end, I am convinced there is some thing alive in this life cycle. Are the mountains breathing in and out? I don’t know. My weak speculation is ignorant at best. But I feel what I feel. All I can do is write about what goes on in the landscape. It is all around each and every one of us. And it is mysterious…arcane.

Real snow

I wrote previously about winter colors, snow line and black and white.

The most attractive black and white in our landscape is the magpie, the Eurasian magpie, Pica pica. They have an large, active nest nearby in the top of a huge linden tree, Tilia cordata. When the first winter snowfall arrived the nest got so snowed in…it was no longer visible, neither were the magpies.

Where are the magpies?

Winter colors

…mountain, sky, forest and lake…

Gray sky? Yes.

White snow? Yes.

But the color of the lake? Look carefully and compare with the summer photo taken at the same time of day of the same mountain.

How cold is the ‘winter blue’ of the lake?
How warm and rich the mountain, sky and forest colors? And the lake, how to describe the color? Refreshing.

The above landscapes provide me daily inspirations to write about the landscape architecture past times of Christopher Janus, known to his friends as CJ, and his landscape encounters in Tangier Gardens. Please visit my Tangier Gardens landing page to sign up for launch discounts and more info on CJ’s north west Africa landscape searches for portals.

***As of NOV2021***PLEASE NOTE***FLAHERTYLANDSCAPE HAS MOVED ITS URL TO A NEW DOMAIN–https://flahertylandscape.com CONTENT THE SAME ONLY A NEW URL. PLEASE CLICK THAT LINK.