And then Christmas was over.

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Purify by fire…elimination of last year’s evil. The municipality arranged for a community Christmas tree burning. Presto! Last year’s evil is up in smoke.

Every country and culture has a different interpretation of Christmas, trees and Santa Claus.

After the passing of the Christmas and the New Year, our local neighborhood, in the Jungfrau Region of the Swiss Alps, furnished these three image examples.

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Saint Nikolas prepares to distribute bread, while his companion, Schmutzli prepares to sweep away what remains of this past year’s evil.

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And if some evil escapes Schmutzli, numerous helpers are prepared to scare it away.

Have no fear, Happy New Year!

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Recharge

Fog.

This is not fog.

What is fresh air?

Settled science? Humans and animals–oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. Plants–carbon dioxide in, oxygen out.

In cold weather those are small clouds coming out of our nose when we breathe. 

Does the earth breathe out clouds like we do?

Mountains, creeks and lakes come together with temperatures just above freezing and a light drizzle from cloudy skies…that makes my day.

The play of air, water and earth can be visualized best by observing the visual interplay of low level clouds–they appear and disappear with a rhythm and frequency that reminds me of my own breaths.

On a calm day, the very low clouds come and go as if breaths from a huge giant–the earth itself.

What is fresh air if it is not air that has been filtered by plants …or filtered by earth…or filtered by both.

Think about it the next time you inhale a deep breath of fresh air.

Think about it the next time you exhale a cloud.

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Clouds often arise from creek beds like this.

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Cloud arising from adjacent forest.

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Clouds arising from the earth via forests and creeks have a scaled up size and time span not dissimilar in proportion to small individual human exhales. They appear…

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 …and they disappear.

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For me, the action is at the cloud edges.

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Inhale…exhale…repeat…more slowly…more deeply…recharge is real.

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The unpredictable dynamic mystifies.

Rising

I am obsessed with the magic of clouds rising from nothing.

But what is that nothing?

Imagine what you might see, feel, hear underneath that dark, 100 foot tall forest canopy as a cloud just begins to emerge from around you?

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This mixed evergreen and deciduous forest has a canopy that is more than a ten story building, 30 meters (100feet) tall. On the forest floor, it is dark. And the floor is not level. Beneath the canopy is  a steeply varied topography–very exciting–filled with surprising variety of flora and fauna–if you are quiet and patient.

 

Seasoning—is it right?

Spring, summer, fall and winter…all have their individual tastes and arrive each year with their own uniquenesses.

In the northern hemisphere, now in 2018, we are making the transition between fall and winter. All of you have your own memories and interpretations of these seasonings. I doubt there is a right or wrong.

But the other day, the mountains around my home revealed a certain kind of smorgasbord seasoning, grace to elevation changes. What? What do I mean to say?

On one day, I experienced a very unique variety of seasonings. Full blown winter and full blown fall, completely independent of each other, within less than an hour of each other, again grace to their elevational difference. And, the best for last, something very special above them all.

It is all about the landscape. I hope you can enjoy these images.

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Fall landscape

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Winter landscape

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Heavenly landscape

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.:)