Northern Hemisphere Only

The end of the day, the beginning of tomorrow.

The end of the old year, the beginning of the new year.

The end of the winter, the beginning of spring.

In the Northern Hemisphere all of these have resonant overlays.

The last weeks have been cold. The ground has frozen but not covered with snow. Winter is heavily just around the corner. It has its beauties, its discoveries; but it inevitably drags before it finishes. That is when I kling to the hopes of spring.

Kenneth Grahame—consummate observer of nature and seasonal changes in ‘The Wind in the Willows’—captures those spring hopes in reality through his character ‘Mole’. In the attached audio file, I read 90 seconds of Kenneth Grahame’s work wherein he describes how Mole becomes overwhelmed by excessive joy in the arrival of spring.

Mole embodies how we all endure the long winter—endure the hard life without the warmth and light of the sun. And, how we all feel such joy and relief in those first warm days of spring, when, in the meadow, hopes come true.

On Ecology–Kenneth Grahame

International Authors' DayBetween 14-18 July 2015, on each day, I will be making a post in celebration of International Authors’ Day, featuring review of works by Kenneth Grahame, J.L. Borges and Algernon Blackwood, authors whose works have been formative inspirations for me.

These posts will be made as part of a Blog Hop as can be seen and visited through the links at the bottom of each post.

Today is 15July2015.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Ecology–Kenneth Grahame
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kenneth Grahame, 1859-1932, access to his works at Gutenberg.

…now where is that portal…

Especially in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, E.H. Shepard’s illustrations imparted the author’s deep feelings for the forest landscape and its inhabitants.

While many think of Wind in the Willows (1908) as Toad of Toad Hall–it really is an intimate picture of the landscape around which Kenneth Grahame grew up and always loved.

I think of him as the first Ecologist. Most of us, when we think of ecology, think first of the Odum brothers in the 1950s. But for me, it was the observational powers of Kenneth Grahame–how the flora and fauna intimately interacted on diurnal and seasonal bases in his own local patch.

The following two minute sound clip documents Kenneth Grahame’s heartfelt understanding of the landscape.

I respect, I highly value his powers of observation. Unfortunately his efforts have been blacklisted, by some cultural revisionists, as anthropomorphic, but…that bit of censoring is only as transient in time as a slight breeze on a hot, still, summer day.

Kenneth Grahame’s work will return–be it Wind in the Willows, 1908 or Pagan Papers, 1893 when he was already asking ‘Are we irrevocably cut off from the natural world, or might there still be a way back to it?’

He knew of the power in the landscape.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Plants: how do they inspire you?
Please answer that question because on the last day of this International Authors’ Day Blog Hop, I will randomly select a winner to receive The 23 Club, Beta 6, a free giveaway for your reading enjoyment.

Landscape Story–what is it?

International Authors' DayBetween 14-18 July 2015, on each day, I will be making a post in celebration of International Authors’ Day, featuring review of works by Kenneth Grahame, J.L. Borges and Algernon Blackwood, authors whose works have been formative inspirations for me.

These posts will be made as part of a Blog Hop as can be seen and visited through the links at the bottom of each post.

 

 

Today is 14July2015.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Landscape Story–what is it?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
These landscape stories are classic quests–journeys. Maybe a landscape story should start with some context, some definition.

On the earth, humans see the surface and what they see is landscape. The difference between landscape and garden is that a garden is cultivated by humans, is protected by humans and is relatively safe from threats of death to humans. Whereas in the larger landscape, the threat of death, by other life forms including humans, known or unknown, may be just ‘around the corner’, or even ‘in your face’.

Myself, I always have looked at it like this from a larger historical perspective: in the beginning humans moved in the landscape–hunting and gathering, I think is the currently popular way to describe their activities. When humans found the dangers in the landscape, when they found the threat of death in the landscape too great, they built shelters–the realm of architects today, shelters.

Then humans put fences around their shelters, cultivated plants and called those outdoor areas, gardens. Gardens are places dominated by plants, places where humans offer some personal service to plants. Gardens are places relatively safe from the danger of death. In the garden, there is protection. In the garden, the intense human energy for self defense can be suspended, enabling finer instincts of humans to be accessed.

Gardens and landscapes both are essentially the environment of plants. And plants  are the domain where the most dynamic interactions remain to be discovered by humans. Landscape stories explore dynamic interactions between humans and plants in gardens and landscapes.

A landscape story moves beyond furniture and setting. The plants, gardens and landscapes begin to have lives of their own…kind of like real life…and beyond. In the works of literature, arts and music, plants, gardens and landscapes have forever been the source of seemingly unlimited human inspirations. Of particularly rich inspirations for me have been works by Kenneth Grahame, by Algernon Blackwood, by J.L. Borges. Inspirations of sensual thresholds, of emotion, of intellect, of design, of beauty, of spirit, of existential uncertainty, of connecting essence, of source, of…

In The 23 Club, Erik Chalmers, a landscape architect, follows his obsession to build beautiful and captivating gardens in strange places…this time to the Empty Quarter in the Arabian Peninsula. On his way, he stops over in Bahrain and, in a kismet moment, bumps into an old friend, Jean-Claude Thibaut.

Jean-Claude Thibaut, an ethnobotanist, was born in the Belgian Congo and had built his career around exploring ‘borderline’ human cultures, Bedu, Gypsies, Berbers and their interactions with plants and landscapes. Erik finds out that Jean-Claude had recently been to the Empty Quarter to advise an Emirati on his masters thesis–a study of how people from the Liwa Oasis traditionally used plants in their extremely arid sand desert environment.

In the following 4 minute sound clip, Jean-Claude explains some of the unmappable experiences he had during his nine months driving everyday from Abu Dhabi to the Liwa Oasis, in the heart of the Empty Quarter–the very location of Erik’s new Liwa Qsar project, a five star resort destination series of courtyard gardens.

Then there is another facet to these landscape stories. They are fiction, but they use geography, history and botany to give the stories some ‘real life’ anchors, as in the following three minute clip where Erik Chalmers and Jean-Claude discuss the Spice Route over a plate of biryani at a truck stop in the middle of the ‘almost’ Empty Quarter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

…inspiration…

…where is it…

Plants: how do they inspire you?
Please answer that question because on the last day of this International Authors’ Day Blog Hop, I will randomly select a winner to receive The 23 Club, Beta 6, a free giveaway for your reading enjoyment.

International Authors’ Day

International Authors' DayBetween 14-18 July 2015, on each day, I will be making a post in celebration of International Authors’ Day, featuring reviews of works by Kenneth Grahame, J.L. Borges and Algernon Blackwood, authors whose works have been formative inspirations for me.

These posts will be made as part of a Blog Hop as can be seen and visited through the links at the bottom of each post.

Also at the bottom of each post please find the giveaway question:

Plants: how do they inspire you?

Please answer that question in the comments section. On the last day of this International Authors’ Day Blog Hop, I will randomly select a winner to receive The 23 Club, Beta 6, a free giveaway for your reading enjoyment

Landscape Story–what is it?

14July 2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Ecology–Kenneth Grahame

15July2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Landscape Mysteries–Algernon Blackwood

16July2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Existential Garden Visits–JL Borges

17July2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 23 Club, Beta 6 Giveaway

18July2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In The 23 Club, Erik Chalmers, a landscape architect, follows his obsession to build beautiful and captivating gardens--this time to The Empty Quarter.

In The 23 Club, Erik Chalmers, a landscape architect, follows his obsession to build beautiful and captivating gardens–this time to The Empty Quarter.