Portals

I have talked about, that is, written about portals…portals and plants.

What do I mean when I say portals? It is more about what words can not describe. What?

Perhaps you remember some TV shows, Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond…but this is about real life. That’s right, real life.

For centuries, dare I say, millennia, people, humans have spoken about, written and explored the indescribable relationships between plants and humans. Portals is my effort to continue that chain of communication.

GnomeAdvent

This last week I had a birthday. I received from my dearest friend two books of illustrations by the Swiss, Ernst Kreidolf. Both images in this post are his work. He spent his lifetime addressing the communication relationship between people and plants.

Ernst used gnomes and elves to describe these indescribable relationships.

Let me share some of Ernst Kreidolf’s life story.

He was born over one hundred years ago in Switzerland. He was a classic artist, a pioneer of children’s illustration and picture books…and gnomes in the popular imagination! His magical illustrations have a timeless quality. To this day, his art is still very popular in Switzerland.

Ernst Kreidolf und die Pflanzen

Kreidolf’s famous books first appeared in 1901 Die schlafenden Bäume (The Sleeping Trees), in 1902 Die Wiesenzwerge (The Meadow Dwarves), and in 1903 Schwaetzchen fuer Kinder (Chit Chat for Children).  In 1904 Kreidolf was involved in Richard Dehmel’s Buntscheck, ein Sammelbuch für Kinder (Patchwork, a Scrap-book for Children).  In 1905 the book Alte Kinderreime (Old Nursery Rhymes) appeared followed by in 1908 Sommervoegel (Butterflies).  The latter was highly acclaimed by Hermann Hesse.  In 1911 Der Gartentraum (The Garden Dream) was published.

In 1920 Blumen Ritornelle (Flower Chorus), in 1922 Alpenblumenmaerchen (Alpine Flower Fairy-tales), in 1924 Ein Wintermaerchen (A Winter’s Fairy-tale), in 1926 Lenzgesind (Servants of the Spring), in 1928 Das Hundefest (The Dogs’ Party), in 1929 Bei den Gnomen und Elfen (With the Gnomes and Elves), in 1931 Grashupfer (The Grasshopper), in 1932 Aus versunk´nen Gärten (From the Sunken Gardens) and in 1935 Die Himmelreich-Wiese (The Kingdom of Heaven Meadow).

 His illustrations carry us off to the world of fairytales and dreams, where plants play a leading role.

Snognomobile

One cannot but wonder at his ability in both identifying the key characteristics of plants and giving humans a unique interaction with them.

His legacy endures as a tender ode to Mother Nature’s glory. The best illustrated web site with Kreidolf biography–a fantastic display of his water-color work.

And portals? His work was all about portals.

Vegan World

Here is a collection of images I have taken of plants and landscapes the past days as winter descends and the first frost arrives.

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Winter descends. Previously we had snow only 2000 meters elevation and above. Last night, I fell asleep listening to the slow and peaceful pitter patter of rain falling softly on the roof. I woke up this morning to find the snow had snuck down to 700 meters elevation.

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After this tree’s branches and trunk have built barns, built and heated homes, the remnants have become the nourishment for how many other living entities? Everything gets eaten in the end.

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Frost bite, frost burn, yet there is some beauty in this image. Is there a lesson to be learned?

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The frost is not the end but a tell that the end is near. In the background, the babbling brook runs away from that truth.

The Right Altitude

May Snow

A week ago I posted Wisteria photo taken the same day, so enamoured I was of its floriferous and fragrant presence. I called it a mature spring dream.

Today, just one week later I had the opportunity to observe a unique scientific reality—that is—higher elevations have cooler temperatures. And that dramatically affects the visual coming of spring.

I live in essentially the same easting and northing for the Wisteria photo and these weather photos below. All have been taken within a 5 mile by 5 mile square on a map. I can observe the weather at 500 meters above sea level—the Wisteria–no snow fall at all–only a cold spring rain.

And I can observe the weather at 1,500 meters above sea level which I did today. My easy access to these very different elevations is possible due to the well developed cog-wheel train system in operation year round in all weather conditions.

Today, at 1,500 meters and higher, I saw no crocus, no dandelion, no green. But I did have the joyous fun of a snowfall in mid Spring—large flakes in blizzard-like conditions up to 12” deep and sticking to all coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs.

Good fun.

…high…

800 meters above sea level–at this elevation there was no snowfall but you can see the dynamic cloud activity–up the faces of the cliffs–along the  valley floor–and the entire valley is covered and darkened by the low overcast.

 

…higher…

1,500 meters above sea level–at this elevation I have entered the low overcast layer that caused the reduced light at 800 meters. Inside the overcast layer was snowing.

 

…highest…

2,300 meters above sea level–at this level I have risen above the first overcast snowing and am now in snowfall from a higher overcast. This is where 12″ of snow had already fallen and the snow was still falling. A cog-wheel train at left.

 

Snort…what?

…Act 1 of 3…Snow?

The temperature lowered, the clouds lowered, the precipitation began…then the gray. Lower and lower came that crazy gray infinite, reducing my vision…that enveloping grayness, proving how limited is our human sense of sight. Grayed out–sense of sight, sense of balance, even sense of gravity…dissolving…bit by bit…

…Act 2 of 3…

…then the snow. I have carried a dream, maybe just a memory for decades, more than fifty years–strangely vivid–I was told to count backwards from 10 and inhale slowly and deeply–it was a black mask over my nose and mouth and it was ether that I inhaled–I saw the gray background turn darker to almost black and gradually it became filled with white dots–soft white dots–like snowflakes not quite in focus–that is the dream and each time it returns, it has a comforting subtitle–this is how death will come, quietly like a snowfall beginning.

…Act 3 of 3…

Oh, but this is just a late spring snowfall–it’s not death–it’s not the return of winter…but, oh, for the briefest of moments, it was strangely exciting to feel, but inevitably, not sustainable.

…too busy…I almost missed Spring…11…next…last

…winter tries to make a comeback…

…shrinks back, creeps uphill…The snow shrinks back, it creeps uphill leaving behind a wet death–soaked yellow and brown grasses which had long before succumbed to winter’s cold grip.

…creeps downhill…But winter tries to make a comeback. The snow descends, lower and lower–winter tries vainly to re-establish its deathly grip…but I wonder, is it death, or is it purity? When about winter, how can the deaths of so many plants be so beautiful to behold when covered in white?

…too busy…almost missed Spring…2…lastnext

…on a landscape journey…

Winter path

On a path within a landscape journey…and up ahead, around the corner…

Nobody truly knows just what may be around the next corner…can’t see, can’t hear, don’t know…such are our limitations.

Friday, 24Jan2014, I was, on foot, taking a landscape journey–a split second of which is in the above photograph.

As I took the photo, I thought just as we do not know what lies around the next corner at anytime, we do not know either the time of death or thereafter…but we put the best shine on it.

So I took the photograph, smiled and continued walking.

It was beautiful on the day…and the memories still are beautiful!