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.

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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.

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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.

 

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The Moroccan dream.

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…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?

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Clouds fill the upper balconies. 

Mountains Birthing Clouds

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

What more can I say?

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At 1400 meters above sea level, amongst the forests.

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

Tree

Every so often something makes me take a photo–something?

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Walnut tree–Juglans nigra

Is it my eyes, is it my heart, is it paranormal?

I don’t know. But Alfred Joyce Kilmer wrote, in his poem ‘Trees’:

I think that I shall never see 

A poem as lovely as a tree.

My photos may not be technically the best but they do have my heart in them. And I love living in the Swiss Highlands because such simple things as the beauty of a tree have become embedded in their culture for all to appreciate.

A few years back, I posted a story here entitled ‘Landscapeyness’. The title was not so accurate related to its content about trees and culture in the Swiss Highlands. The following image shares the flavor.

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Forest, animals, people, nurture, rest, music, landscape…

The artwork is called Schnerenschnit.

Probably don’t…

 …want to hear about this stroke update. That’s ok because you don’t have to read it. I want to put words to what I felt today.

About 18 months ago I was in bed, a vegetable in a windowless and clockless emergency ward. Tubes everywhere. Nothing that worked before was working. 

Gradually things sank in, internal clouds started lifting and I started thinking. Still unable to get out of bed. If only I could speak again. If only I could clean myself again. I dreamed if only I could walk in the country…oh such a dream. Then the rehab began. Then the hard discipline became essential. Little step by little step.

Below is where I walked today. I almost melted with joy and happiness. Wish fulfilled.  So many to thank.

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Who wouldn’t want to take this walk?

Butterscotch or Toffee?

I am looking at a bosque of Plane trees planted next to the Interlaken Ost train station. In the recent afternoon sun, I could call them butterscotch or toffee and be happy.

Often, in the urban public realm, simpler is better.

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Platanus acerifolia?

To Farm or Not

I was born and grew up in the urban and suburban Midwest USA—Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland—had to drive for miles to see farms, the places where we could buy fresh corn on the cob and watermelon from small makeshift roadside stands. These were grown on huge extensive plains. A consumer, I was a consumer.

I had no idea what farmers had to do over a 12 month or more cycle so that they would have ‘produce’ to sell to me from their roadside stand.

Decades later, I am still a consumer; but I live in a community that has been for generations small scale farmers. Each and every farm house has apple trees and walnut trees growing close by. Even the generations who have moved into the dense village have planted small fruit and nut trees. Why?

This first image reflects a spiritual understanding that nature is unpredictable and a reverence for a greater power is essential for farmers. So many things can go wrong with weather, climate and the geophysical that a season, a year may come anytime to take away the food necessary for farmer life. Imagine no grocery store with well stocked shelves, imagine no 7-11/24-7-365 convenience. Imagine if you had no access to food. Farmers make plans that their families never have to suffer such a hardship.

This means long hours everyday, year round. Just grab a short bit of relaxation from time to time. Hard life. I can see it all around me these days. Yet, I, as a consumer with a second-hand sympathy for farmers, sometimes feel envious of how much determination, commitment and practical knowledge they bring with them day-in, day-out to solve problems beset on them by nature and changing government regulations.

So this year, I have enjoyed observing the ripening process of fruits and nuts—apples and walnuts.

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The Alphorn is a conduit providing mystic connections between music, people and the landscape.

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Walnut trees on every farm.

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The apple of my eye on every farm.

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Walnuts in green—the husks in first stages of ripening.

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Signs that ripening is progressing—the husk prepares to break open.

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The walnut reveal.

Apple and walnut torte or apple and walnut kuchen…your choice.:)

Chocolate Gardens

This is about Moroccan gardens and landscape.

Earlier today, I prepared to record the revised draft of one of my novels to perform a sentence by sentence prose edit. To my surprise, as I set up a folder for the audio, I found an old .aif file entitled Chocolate Gardens. On that 30 minute file I heard myself reading what appeared to be a post publication recall of events.

Well, since my stroke I am finding quite a few things I had completely forgotten. That’s kinda fun. Maybe sad, but still fun. We all have imperfect memories, but as a stroke victim, I seem to have now a greater worrisome sense about forgetfulness. Oh well, time continues. No harm done.

The Chocolate Gardens tells the story of a Tangier, Morocco garden, as recorded by Christopher two decades ago. In order to visit the garden he was required by the garden’s owners, 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 am about to share with you goes beyond strange.

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.

I have attached a link to a 30 min. SoundCloud file that tells the rest of the story. I hope you like it.

Image 18.04.18 at 17.47

…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 well illustrated with Art Nouveau graphics.