Dancing

What is a nature prescription? Why do you need it? Political or health albatross around your neck? A walk out past the edge of town?…just like Dancing in the Moonlight. Take a break.

Should your ‘nature prescription’ be more like taking aspirin or Dancing in the Moonlight? Take a walk in a place like this–that’s a nature prescription. Aspirin? Dancing in the Moonlight? It’s both and more. You’ve got to go beyond the edge of town or village–outside that downtown buzz–and breathe deeply–let your walls down–open all your senses. And the portals will open.

What’s missing here?

How can I get free of this stinking political and health fear-stuffed albatross?

Suppose this page is about you…and suppose you are wound up tighter than a drum by the tension of world wide and local politics and health. This page is your wayfinder.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BLOG AND ALL MY WRITING is to assist you the visitor to begin taking steps along a path toward discovering the regenerative existential cures to be freely found in plants, gardens and the landscape.

THE FIRST STEP is what could be called ‘nature prescriptions’–calibrated doses of time outside. Take a walk. But does the walk heal? What actually happens?  What is on the path that takes you on a journey? Where do landscape journeys take you?

And why even take that path and that journey?

A walk, a journey just for the landscape?–heh, I know what you are thinking–we all know what landscape is, right? Same old, same old, right?

flahertylandscape contends it is more–consider this:

The landscape can be a private cocoon to rest the restless.

On the walk you may weave dreams full of surprise and delight yielding true moments of repose.

It can be a journey to unwind, to regenerate, to reconnect with inner peace, to nest away from the daily hustle and bustle.

What’s missing from this photo? If you want to take that first regenerative walk on a landscape journey, here is what should be missing. Mobile, and any digital intrusion, mechanical noise from the city, from autos, any miscellaneous connectivity kit–that’s right don’t bring modern noise with you. Missing out all th is an essential part of your nature prescription.

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.

I’m ok, if…

…I can’t tell the difference between the onset of old age and covid19, 20 or whatever*.

No matter how I look at it…

IMG_1071

…up close, can’t tell one from the other.

IMG_1077

…or from distance, don’t know the source or destination. Just in the flow.

And ahead,

IMG_1085

There still are challenges, mysteries, discoveries…if I just take a step forward.

*covid, China virus, Kung flu, Wang Chung?!! Everybody have fun tonight.

 

It’s out there…somewhere

Stroked out. Just about three years ago that I was no better than a ‘side of beef’ on a gurney in the back of an ambulance. Four weeks later I was in a wheelchair on the way to a neuro-rehabilitation clinic in the Berner Oberland.

When I arrived, my wife wheeled me to the end of the hallway for a look out through the window. This is what I saw.

IMG_0636

Magic in the landscape

What I thought? Only to be able to walk this path. Well it happened. First time sitting up. First time getting out of bed by myself. First time standing. First time with rollator. First time standing without rollator. First step on stairs. First time up one flight of stairs. First time down one flight of stairs. I don’t understand how. Great physiotherapists. Great ergotherapists. A miracle. Faith.

I walk every day now in the Berner Oberland–no rollator–no sticks. Unbelievable.

And that image, that path–magic in the landscape. Thankful.

Hope, I hoped I could take that walk. Hope can be grasped. Step by step. Every morning.

Short story about a strange…

…garden and its even stranger keepers…in Tangier.

The Story

Click the orange circle above to listen. This story is 30 minutes about Moroccan landscape, a strange garden, absinthe, chocolate and its plants.

DSC05246

Date palms and mimosa in Morocco (Phoenix dactylifera and Acacia dealbata). Ever wonder about the magic of fragrance? Try mimosa, in its natural habitat, in the winter.

The Background

Anyone who has worked in a garden–suffered blisters and callouses in a garden for fruit, vegetables, flowers, medicine–knows there is something more in those gardens. This is for you.

Gardens? Chocolate? Yes, definitely…but I never thought to combine them until the email I received quite recently from an almost forgotten friend. Donkeys’ years ago when I was in Tangier, we worked together on the Baie de Tanger–it was a tourist destination development project.

Now, my friend’s still in Tangier, but as an antique dealer, using as an income cover, a store of second hand furniture. This story is a found antique.

In ‘Christopher and the Hibiscus House’, Christopher tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s keepers, a Brit and a Ruskie, to undergo a special ordeal of chocolate and absinthe before walking at sunset in the garden. Christopher first had to visit the land of the green fairies before he could enter their Oval Garden. This is that story.

Readers…by now you know that my blog, flahertylandscape, is all about plants and people–landscape journeys. Sounds fair and safe enough; but what I  share with you in the above story goes beyond ethnobotany, beyond strange.

 

DSC05800

The Moroccan dream.

TangierMap

…for millennia…Tangier has been a nexus of Mediterranean, African and European cultures…a classic melting pot that is still on the boil.

This is in part a freshly edited re-post of  a 2015 post I made, entitled Chocolate, Gardens and Magic, which, if I might say so, was a too long read; but it is fortunately well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics.

Upper Balconies

Deep in the back row of the upper, upper balconies, which are all full today, you can do whatever you want because no one will see you. Can you hear the sonata?

IMG_0046

Clouds fill the upper balconies. 

Mountains Birthing Clouds

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

What more can I say?

IMG_0682

At 1400 meters above sea level, amongst the forests.

IMG_0670

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