Natural Social Distancing

When waiting to pick up the take-out, what is the safe social distance?

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In this landscape you find dense forests on steep slopes meeting flatlands filled with agriculture.

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This kestral, safely isolated near the top of a dead tree at the edge of a flat agricultural field, waits patiently for its take-out.…until I kept walking and broke into its 100 meter safe zone.

Flew away–without the take-out.

Grain or granular

Framing photos to lie or to tell the truth…

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The foreground means nothing.

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The foreground means everything.

Nothing and everything can’t be the same, can they?

There are grains everywhere; but which one holds the truth? I need a grain of truth.

Quarantine at the edge of town

All of us are experiencing quarantine in one form or another. 

But the edge of town? What is that? Traditionally the edge of town was the place where fertile flat lands were cultivated for agriculture that was more valuable than town housing. And necessary.

So, yesterday I took a walk–quarantine all around. Walked by myself. As I walked across town, I saw an open bakery, an open grocery store and an open drug store.  Everything else was closed.

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The town had plenty signs of spring–the forsythias always shout with joy.

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At the edge of town, I saw the agricultural landscape, the spring green of willow trees and the hopeful construction of a tree house.

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Then I saw the farmhouse–so many activities related to food. Farms are amazing producers and guardians.

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At one entry to the farmhouse, I was reminded of the simplest of their products–available almost any day of the year. Direct from the farm: eggs, jams, Alp cheese, goat cheese.

Quarantined? Take a walk. Check out the edge of town.

Vegan World

Here is a collection of images I have taken of plants and landscapes the past days as winter descends and the first frost arrives.

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Winter descends. Previously we had snow only 2000 meters elevation and above. Last night, I fell asleep listening to the slow and peaceful pitter patter of rain falling softly on the roof. I woke up this morning to find the snow had snuck down to 700 meters elevation.

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After this tree’s branches and trunk have built barns, built and heated homes, the remnants have become the nourishment for how many other living entities? Everything gets eaten in the end.

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Frost bite, frost burn, yet there is some beauty in this image. Is there a lesson to be learned?

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The frost is not the end but a tell that the end is near. In the background, the babbling brook runs away from that truth.

Probably don’t…

 …want to hear about this stroke update. That’s ok because you don’t have to read it. I want to put words to what I felt today.

About 18 months ago I was in bed, a vegetable in a windowless and clockless emergency ward. Tubes everywhere. Nothing that worked before was working. 

Gradually things sank in, internal clouds started lifting and I started thinking. Still unable to get out of bed. If only I could speak again. If only I could clean myself again. I dreamed if only I could walk in the country…oh such a dream. Then the rehab began. Then the hard discipline became essential. Little step by little step.

Below is where I walked today. I almost melted with joy and happiness. Wish fulfilled.  So many to thank.

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Who wouldn’t want to take this walk?

To Farm or Not

I was born and grew up in the urban and suburban Midwest USA—Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland—had to drive for miles to see farms, the places where we could buy fresh corn on the cob and watermelon from small makeshift roadside stands. These were grown on huge extensive plains. A consumer, I was a consumer.

I had no idea what farmers had to do over a 12 month or more cycle so that they would have ‘produce’ to sell to me from their roadside stand.

Decades later, I am still a consumer; but I live in a community that has been for generations small scale farmers. Each and every farm house has apple trees and walnut trees growing close by. Even the generations who have moved into the dense village have planted small fruit and nut trees. Why?

This first image reflects a spiritual understanding that nature is unpredictable and a reverence for a greater power is essential for farmers. So many things can go wrong with weather, climate and the geophysical that a season, a year may come anytime to take away the food necessary for farmer life. Imagine no grocery store with well stocked shelves, imagine no 7-11/24-7-365 convenience. Imagine if you had no access to food. Farmers make plans that their families never have to suffer such a hardship.

This means long hours everyday, year round. Just grab a short bit of relaxation from time to time. Hard life. I can see it all around me these days. Yet, I, as a consumer with a second-hand sympathy for farmers, sometimes feel envious of how much determination, commitment and practical knowledge they bring with them day-in, day-out to solve problems beset on them by nature and changing government regulations.

So this year, I have enjoyed observing the ripening process of fruits and nuts—apples and walnuts.

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The Alphorn is a conduit providing mystic connections between music, people and the landscape.

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Walnut trees on every farm.

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The apple of my eye on every farm.

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Walnuts in green—the husks in first stages of ripening.

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Signs that ripening is progressing—the husk prepares to break open.

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The walnut reveal.

Apple and walnut torte or apple and walnut kuchen…your choice.:)

How do humans fit in?

How humans fit in…

Landscape, humans, animals…how do the humans fit in? Is there a preferred way for interaction between humans and animals in the landscape? In the Berner Oberland Jungfrau Region this photo shows an autumnal parade in the village, celebrating the return of the animals from the upper alps, the upper pastures, to their home barns.

The animals are celebrated, applauded and cheered by the villagers twice a year. In the early summer when they leave the village heading up to mountain pastures and then in the fall when they return.

The animals wear decorative headdresses made by humans from pasture and woodland wild flowers and leaves.

I wonder if the energy expended by humans and animals in the landscape, combined with human attitudes of service, duty and reverence, add together to help generate a healthy feeling in the landscape–despite the avalanches, despite the rock and landslides, despite the flash floods.

Today, after seven hundred years of humans managing forests, pastures, animals, villages and themselves, this Berner Oberland Jungfrau Region landscape attracts visitors from every corner of the world to have their breath taken away by the actual beauty and the aura this landscape brings to all.