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.

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Landrace Clouds

What are landrace clouds? I made it up. Combination of words to describe the reality of cloud appearance in my neighborhood.

My neighborhood. According to the Swiss National Meteorological office, my Swiss neighborhood is the Northern Alps, the north facing slopes of the northernmost range of Alps in Switzerland. Using more common tourist and environmentally friendly vocabulary, my neighborhood is in the Jungfrau Region of the Berner Oberland around Interlaken. I live in the north-facing drainage basin of the famous Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountain triumvirate.

Now all that aside, over my years of walking this neighborhood, I have noticed that barely observable, minimal fluctuations in temperature, humidity, pressure and wind create quite dramatic formation and dissolution of very low level clouds. Please do not confuse them with fog. For a patient viewer, a dance reveals itself. And where there is dance, there is music. Not in astronomical time, but in real time. See it. Feel it. Hear it. 

Unmistakeable to a person on foot.

So for me, landrace clouds are very specific, locally generated occurrences. That is my starting point. That is real. Then the fiction begins. I call it fiction because of the reality that what we call ‘fixed’ or ‘settled’ science is not really fixed or settled or permanent. I like working and writing on the edge of the fixed because every edge is fuzzy and invites exploration, as do these landrace cloud phenomena.

I ask myself, what really happens at the point where a cloud begins its formation in touch with the earth? My response is a bit alchemical, a bit old school. I theorise that point as the interaction of earth, air, water…kind of special already, no? But what about ether? What happens at the moment of generation and the final moment of dissolution?

So, I go hunting in my neighborhood for generation points of landrace clouds. Following are eleven images from recent forays.

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1. Here is a generic shot of clouds in my neighborhood. Note the lake(water), the mountains(earth) and the sky(air). Note the cloud varieties.  Anybody sense the presence of ethereal?

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2. Here is a closer view showing certain cloud interactions with the earth.

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3. In this partially zoomed view, note the implied dynamics of the landrace cloud edges.

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4. In this zoomed view it is clear to see the scale of the landscape and the recently generated landrace cloud.

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5. And now the landrace cloud hunt begins–first person–on the ground–in your face.

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6. I learned the landrace cloud dynamics first hand. They always move. Their edges always change. The harder I looked, the further away they were.

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7. On another day, I learned that if I just stood still long enough, the landrace clouds came to me. But on this day no such luck.

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8. Without the opportunity to be at the point of cloud generation, I had so satisfy the walk by appreciating such details as here.

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9. Spring wild flowers in Alp pastures never cease to amaze.

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10. But as I was looking for the landrace cloud points of generation, I saw this hut at the edge of the forest.

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11. And at the peak of the roof,  protecting this hut, was…

All of the above represent a ‘typical’ walk in my neighborhood. And that is why fiction is just too close to fact. 

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!

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.