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.

Railing

Railing about what?

Once upon a time…and then it was yesterday…and you are reading this today.

In a land of mountain trains–funiculars, cable cars and narrow gauge cogwheel trains. They are slow and they get you high.

Why? Why get high?

I’ll let the following photos tell the story. You will be in the Bernese Highlands of the Jungfrau Region, the northern pre-mountains, above 2,000 meters in the Swiss Alps. Why build these mechanical contraptions to get high?

Here are the trains that get you high.

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Passenger cars–note narrow gauge and cogwheel. Start at 600 meters, finish at 2,300 meters.

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Passenger cars and engine–small and strong–electric power. 

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Engine close up–attached in front of the engine is a cart for transporting goods and construction materials.

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Once you are high…the air is thin, fresh, cool and the distances…magical.

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Mountains–Eiger, Monch, Junfrau with the Mannlichen gipfel amidst the clouds in the foreground.

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Paths to explore, paths for discovering.

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Discoveries.

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Going deep in.

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Can’t get enough.

G cluster

Gentian Cluster

Year after year, I have searched for the invigorating blue of Gentian wildflowers in the Jungfrau Region of the Berner Oberlands. This year was banner. 

Previous years I needed microscopic vision to find the odd one here or there. But this year…clusters everywhere! Left me breathless–how fortunate.

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Gentiana acaulis at 2,000 meters above sea level in the sunny alps on north facing mountain ridges.

 

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.

The promise is yet to come

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Corylus avellana, 600 meters above sea level, 12June2010, North facing slope, Bernese Highlands, Swiss Alps.

Hazelnut or filbert. At the risk of sounding too much like an oldtimer…

Once upon a time, before European mass produced chocolate became common in the United States, if you wanted chocolate with nuts, you had primarily chocolate with peanuts. Then if you took the big voyage to Europe and tried to find chocolate and peanuts…impossible.  Chocolate and nuts in Europe meant chocolate and hazelnuts. Need I say mouth watering?