Up the valley

I am a naive midwestern American kind of guy–born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland–not really urban, not really rural. Farming has always been a mystery to this outsider. 

I had a view the other morning across the Brienzersee (+/-564meters above sea level). I could see that it was the time that farmers were making the first cut of pasture hay. Notice the yellow and brown patches which have just been cut . Adjacent to the yellow and brown are fully green pastures that have not been cut. Better seen in the following enlargements.
Note the fields just above the village. This is a mountain lake–the lake is a valley floor. The valley feels like an open bowl.
Hay pastures in the Berner Oberland Jungfrau Region of the Swiss Alps in late spring.
So, in the valley across the way, at about 560 meters above sea level, the first seasonal cutting of the pasture hay has begun.

Everything I encounter in this agricultural mountain landscape…naively captivates me.

Around my own home the first haycuts are already underway–there is the fragrance of a freshly cut lawn–we all have that familiar smell but the smell of freshly cut pasture hay? We had a couple good rains in May–all pastures were rich with grasses and wild flowers–the wild flowers went to seed first then the grasses–and as the grasses were going to seed in the first days of June we had a spell of sunny warm weather.

All the farmers down here at the valley bottom were out cutting their pastures. Fragrance at daytime and night time. They let the cut hay dry in the open fields for a couple days before binding it for later use as feed.

Before the cut.
The cut.
Cut and drying.
Bailed.

What does that have to do with ‘Up the valley’?

Well, everything in my topographical homeland was flat. Topography and its impact on life in the mountain landscape intrigues me. So, I took a walk up the valley–up the Lutschine River valley to a village named Gundlischwand (+/- 660 meters above sea level). That means uphill 100 meters–doesn’t sound like much does it? Couldn’t be further–amazing walk–here’s what happened. The valley changed. The topography changed. The plants changed.

The valley narrows. The mountains steepen. The walk not too strenuous at all–suitable for a suburban midwest American like me.
I love seeing how trees can make their home on the steepest of cliffs and the narrowest of flat ledges. They know how to adapt. Adapt.

I was going back in time.

In the mountains spring comes first at the low valley elevations. Then by the time spring comes to the higher elevations it is normally not days but weeks later. 

So when I walked up the valley I was walking back in time. Climatically speaking.

The price of admission?

A stuffy nose, a couple sneezes and a runny nose–all in sequence.

It took me 1/2 hour to walk the next 100 meters.

This is the edge of pasture some time before the haycut. 100 meters above where the haycut is occurring.
The wild flowers beckoned me.
Wild flowers well ahead of the grasses. Seed time not yet.
I was on a journey.
Finally, I arrived at Gundlischwand.
A village in an agricultural landscape in the mountains–mountains? Jungfrau Region, Berner Oberland, Swiss Alps.
Apple and walnut trees always close to the doorstep and kitchen.
Not far from the edge of town…a footpath into the dark forest…

But that will be a journey for another day.

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

Sun Flower

As a photographer, I am average, at best. 

I take photos of plants and landscapes that speak to me.

What do I hear? What do they say? Only I know that I must look closer. So I do that through the camera viewfinder. I share these because somehow or other they have spell bound me. And I like that. I hope you have a similar experience.

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Sun. Flower. Tell me more about the Sun and flowers.

Hedge your bet

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Prunus laurocerasus has become very popular as a hedge to secure privacy for people in the small gardens around the houses of the Bernese Highlands.

This plant is evergreen, takes to trimming, makes a nice tall, thick hedge, and has a light but pleasant fragrance in flower. Bees like it and birds like it.

 

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But I have observed a huge amount of pollen gather on Lake Brienz while this plant is at and past its peak flowering.

 

 

Interesting no? Comments please?