Mountains Birthing Clouds

Swiss Alps, Bernese Highlands, Jungfrau Region. North side of range.

What more can I say?


At 1400 meters above sea level, amongst the forests.


At 3000 meters above sea level, above the tree line.


Alpine Goldener Autumn

I better post this before a serious snowfall. The colorful golden beauty of the first image is that it occurs above the tree line, above 2,000 meters elevation.

The lift, for access to these areas, has already been closed for maintenance prior to the upcoming ski season. So, I screen captured the image from a 24/7/365 webcam, at

Untitled 5

This golden color arises after the evening temperatures regularly drop below freezing. The color will be hidden any day now when the first snowfall arrives. This is a view of the Grosse Scheidegg pass (2,300 meters elevation) just east of Grindelwald.

The last two images are from the Japanese Ginkgo. It holds its bright yellow gold leaves until the first major frost–then the leaves drop almost all at once. At 600 meters elevation, the first frost arrived this week.


Ginkgo biloba at 600 meters elevation 20Nov2018, Interlaken, Switzerland.


Goldener Herbst.

Descent without mercy

At 2,300 meters above sea level, with the west-north-west wind rasping my face, chilling me colder by the second, I stood firmly and saw how…


It begins…winter descends upon all…without mercy.

The clues, the journey…

…just a bite…

Someone prepared for the journey…er…or a long trip…


…with, along the way to autumn…pearls of the woods.

And, it is never twice the same. Never.

Listen to ‘Mys Alpli’

Edelwyss-Starnen sing the last verse of Mys Alpli. High in the Berner Oberland, an alp is a field, a pasture, a productive piece of mountain land where animals can be grazed. Thus in the background of this you can hear the bells of the sheep, goats and cows. Available at…rnen/id329166348

Mid July in the Berner Oberland Jungfrau Region–it is that time of year when the highest alps receive the animals for the ‘spring’ grasses.

I met a researcher in a Stubbe last week. He was researching linkages between humans and the landscape. He shared with me the following photos of yodelers.


Yodelers in the Jungfrau Region of the Berner Oberland in Switzerland–in the yodel, a human can hear and feel the landscape.


Yodelers demonstrate their respect for the landscape in all aspects of their lives–arts, crafts–and the richness of the detail recalls the richness of their feelings for the landscape. Stewards, custodians of the landscape–that is only the beginning in the Jungfrau Region of the Berner Oberland.


He noted that these yodelers are not hired professionals or foreign workers. They are humans whose families have lived in this landscape for centuries.

He posited that there are rootlets of some strange consistency that transcend the lifetimes of humans. Those rootlets, he said, were channels through which a music travels from the landscape through the voices of the yodelers.

Each verse of a song glorifies a different aspect of the relationship between humans and the landscape. And each chorus…well…the chorus is the landscape.

Pasture Waves


From a distance, it’s hard to see, but the waves carry it in the air…from that huge bowl of a valley…the pastures.

…sweeping waves…

Closer, pastures rolling up and rolling across the slopes, the fields. My eyes and nose battle to receive their outpouring.

…beautiful complexities…

Invisible micro-whisps rising, swirling…they enter my nose, uninvited, confusing my sense of beauty with olfactory complexities; but then my receptors are overtaxed and I can receive no more—so I look and my eyes gradually suffer the same fate.

Why are these pleasures time-stamped? Am I being protected from following some forbidden sensual path into the home of these glorious plants?

Just a question. Because I will visit these pastures again tomorrow and for a brief moment share their waves of ecstasies.

…wish you were here…

…wish you were here…

Trance–not music…or musical ride into trance?

The yodeling exuded the essence of all music…humans, without words, communicating from, and to, some magical landscape node.  The yodeling had freedom, it had discipline, it had beauty and it conveyed, at the same time, a pleasant, almost jolly reverence, and an aura of relaxation.

Listening to music is a linear experience, just like walking though a garden, a landscape.  Music and beauty.  Gardens and beauty.  Portals to transcendence.  There has to be a linkage.  Timeless experiences. Trance? Yodeler trance?

He stood up, stretched, decided to take a walk outside back down toward the center of town.  The evening air was sharp and cool.  It was quiet, Wednesday near 9PM, really quiet.  Grindelwald was at the top end of the valley.  No through automobile traffic.  He paused, listened…maybe he could hear the Lutschine River, about two hundred or so meters down hill, in the valley bottom.  When he started walking again, all he could hear were his own footsteps.

Then somewhere up ahead, he heard what he instinctively knew had to be yodeling.  Softly at first, then it filled his ears.  It was like barbershop, a cappella, unaccompanied singing, a group.  His ears carried him.  His ears, transforming like a delicate cocoon…and the music wrapped him.  He was inside the music…inside the music…suffused by an intense hypnotic, timeless, yet strangely joyful experience.

In no more than a hundred meters, and in the dark, the yodeling had led him just off the main street.  On his left, behind a large tree, he saw a shop or something, tucked behind a hillside.  The yodeling was coming from that direction.  On a weakly lighted, simple sign attached to the side of a smallish free standing building, he saw the name…Blumisalp Stubbe

The Stubbe had an outdoor terrace, facing the mountains, facing the Unterergletscher, and that was where he found the yodelers, about a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half of them.  Everybody he knew always chuckled when yodeling was mentioned, something Americans had once seen back in the 1950s or early 1960s on the Ed Sullivan or the Lawrence Welk television variety shows.

But, in the still of these extraordinary evening mountains, in the quiet of the night, when the mountains were the foreground, middle ground and background all at once, that yodeling had a strong resonance that seemed appropriate to the scale of this place and respectful to its character.

He thought, I don’t know anything about this, so, who am I to judge…but…it does have a very nice feel, a certain sweetness, that’s for sure.  He stood and listened.  For a moment, he couldn’t put words to it, but for the briefest moment, he thought he almost felt the very beginning of that same warm feeling that had overwhelmed him yesterday afternoon, the first time the mountains possessed him.  Then, as soon as the thought formed…the feeling was gone…the intimation disappeared…instantaneously absent.  It was, nevertheless, in its brevity, enjoyable.

The yodelers were on the terrace of the Stubbe.  All the Stubbe terrace doors were open.  The yodelers stood in two lines, at the side of the terrace, singing to the mountains and the Stubbe guests simultaneously.

The yodelers were organized by height, shorter in front, taller behind.  They yodeled two more songs that seemed to have verses and choruses…always a cappella…the singers were men and women, a combination of young and old, all in native clothes, native costumes, somewhat Amish-like…very clean costumes, dominated by black and white, well pressed, black trousers, white shirts and black vests with black lapels and black collars, tastefully accented with smallish embroidered wild flowers–gentian blues–edelweiss silver greens.

The men stood rather casually with their hands in their pockets, but there was definitely a grouped organization.  And the ladies, well, they, too, looked like Amish people…simultaneously proud and humble…lots of white lace over black cloth…very discreet, no asset display…and their decorations, too–mountain wild flowers.

Jodlergruppe Edelwyss-Starnen, from Grindelwald, singing Mys Alpli, one alp is a field, a pasture, a productive piece of mountain land where farm animals graze. Thus in the background of this you can hear the bells of the sheep, goats and cows. The full version can be found at:

Not Music

…but I can't hear it…

This is not music…but they are a part in….

…I don't need to hear it…

This is music…and it is definitely a part in….

And this is what passes between humans and the landscape when all the communication barriers are open.

Jodlergruppe Edelwyss-Starnen singing Mys Alpli, one alp is a field, a pasture, a productive piece of mountain land where farm animals graze. Thus in the background of this you can hear the bells of the sheep, goats and cows. The full version can be found at:

It is what music might be–if you are receiving. Listen to it and look at the above images.

The minute I write, or you think, ‘yodel’, the magic is gone.

It is about ‘being’, like all great music, you become captured and captivated at the same time.

It is a right brain, left brain thing. Above is my weak attempt at right brain.

And this is for your left brain:

1.Where? High in the Swiss Alps, Berner Oberland, above 1,000 meters, where it is just you, the yodelers and the mountains.

2.Who? Yodelers are the people, generations deep living in that landscape.

3.The timing should be when your heart and ears are both wide open to spectra only available where you find yourself in that Berner Oberland landscape.

When you ride that music, the experience is not music.

Words don’t work. This is not music. This is beyond love, beyond service, beyond respect. Language fails–being with the landscape. Humans and landscape…it is deep.

It is what music might be.

Spring Sun Glory

…glories fill my soul…And I woke up to this glorious sunshine–these huge dancing displays of spring green foliage–an ebullient reality…freshly mown patches of domestic lawn in the air…freshly cut first hay of the season in the air…all those smells, fragrances, Syringa, Philadelphus, aromas…weaving in and out of each other…rubbing over each other…exuding…resonating…deeply…again and again…

Filled my lungs again and again until I became inside out dizzy with its sweetness…then I made a mistake.

I read a newspaper. In the article, I was warned that too many cow farts would doom life as I was enjoying it. Naw…ain’t gonna believe that am I? Spring is here. I’m going out for a walk before I miss it!

…too busy…I almost missed Spring…12 of 12…beginninglast

The Last Kilometer

…don't fight it…

Erik Chalmers, American born and bred professional landscape architect, used all his skills to manage these very large, complex iconic projects in the Arabian Peninsula. He knew that the multi-cultural and technical complexities required not simply a left side of the brain number crunching iron will; but they also required what he called…performance art.

What is the magic–what are the skills required to succeed on these huge complex projects being designed and built in such challenging and downright dangerous environments? Erik Chalmers’ post project notes give insight into his successes.

But Erik Chalmers, for the first time in decades on an assignment without his wife Madge, was about to learn if he had done one project too many and lost his one true emotional certainty, his one true root.

…it is…

Chalmers felt what he had missed over the past eight months–the fullness of the water, the plants, the soil, the wholeness–it was holistic, it was an existential comfort.

Following is a short narrative from Chapter 13: Pilgrimage, that imparts some of the landscape connections in The 23 Club.


The 23 Club

Immersed in the contemporary culture of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, against the backdrop of the Empty Quarter, The 23 Club tells the inside story of how an iconic project gets built in the oil rich, Gulf region of the Arabian Peninsula.

Table of Contents

  • Desertification
  • It’s 2AM
  • Spike Lounge
  • The Walk
  • Rub Al Khali Coastal
  • Rub Al Khali Inland
  • Liwa Qsar
  • The Nursery
  • Finding Majlis
  • Library Majlis
  • Villa Majlis
  • Long and Short
  • Pilgrimage

               The Last Kilometer

Chalmers was returning after eight months on his own. Nobody in the UAE called him Erik. It had been eight months of Chalmers. Eight months of taking care of his own meals, his own shopping, his own laundry. It was the little stuff that informed his daily life culture. It was the little stuff that built up…big time.

As the train took Chalmers closer to his stop, his thoughts turned to Madge. He was returning to his shared spaces, his shared life. Chalmers was becoming Erik again. He missed Madge; but he was uncertain how this return would be. Long distance communications always filtered, always blurred emotions.

Chalmers recalled the worst of his time away…he had not been able to hide his week in the hospital from Madge. He was supposed to have gone to Singapore for silk; but her worst fear came true. He had been injured in an automobile accident and hospitalized. She suffered to hear about it from distance. Sorry just did not cover it…from either side.

He arrived at Lauterbrunnen and thought, it won’t be long now.

He transferred from the train to the funicular. It was late in the afternoon and the sky was overcast. This time of year there was little difference between the valley village and the small plateau up where he and Madge lived. Fall plants were already naked of leaves. The first big snow could come any day. The temperature 5ºC or below; frost threatened.

As the funicular rose, Chalmers recalled his excitement nearly nine months ago when he was asked to help fix the first five star resort destination deep in the Empty Quarter. It had been about the challenge. It had been about his joy in providing beautiful gardens for people.

Now the job was complete. The gardens were a success. The owner was satisfied, happy. That world was finished. Now he was home.

And he was worried. Had he traded off something of emotion and trust, something he had held closely with Madge, just to build a couple gardens?

  • Wanderweg
  • Appendix 1:  Berner Oberland Back Story
  • Author’s Notes
  • Plant List
  • Colophon


(to be continued)

© 2015 Edward Flaherty

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