Landscape Visualization

Not so long ago, I participated in a survey by an American specialist in landscape visualization. The survey focussed on the inclusion of visual utility infrastructure as it is built through the landscape.

At the close of the survey a question was asked for each to identify the ideal image of landscape visualization. Well, it would have been easy to say–landscape without any infrastructure visual intrusion would have been my preference.

Could not do that. But I did add that since humans had been living with and using the landscape as long as written history, the ideal landscape image should include successful use, accomodation and management of the landscape.

Just recently, I found a photogenic example that expressed my ideal. The images follow below.

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This foreground field, occurring at the confluence of three mountain valleys and two mountain lakes, was for decades a central air field for national self-defence. When that defence was transferred from props to jets, the airfield became community pasture and recreation for 25,000 local people. The red circle, enlarged in the image below, shows how well major electrical infrastructure has been brought through the adjacent forest.

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This is an enlargement of the red circle shown in the above image.  I should note that this landscape, incredibly photogenic, is regularly photographed by me in all seasons. And despite the well camouflaged electrical power line infrastructure, I always try to frame my photos without any visible infrastructure. We put up with that infrastructure to ameliorate climate, daylight and communications. That is our way of life.

Quarantine at the edge of town

All of us are experiencing quarantine in one form or another. 

But the edge of town? What is that? Traditionally the edge of town was the place where fertile flat lands were cultivated for agriculture that was more valuable than town housing. And necessary.

So, yesterday I took a walk–quarantine all around. Walked by myself. As I walked across town, I saw an open bakery, an open grocery store and an open drug store.  Everything else was closed.

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The town had plenty signs of spring–the forsythias always shout with joy.

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At the edge of town, I saw the agricultural landscape, the spring green of willow trees and the hopeful construction of a tree house.

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Then I saw the farmhouse–so many activities related to food. Farms are amazing producers and guardians.

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At one entry to the farmhouse, I was reminded of the simplest of their products–available almost any day of the year. Direct from the farm: eggs, jams, Alp cheese, goat cheese.

Quarantined? Take a walk. Check out the edge of town.

Old Age

As I observe old age taking interest in my body, it shades my observations of the landscape.

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This apple tree is also under the influence of old age; yet it has retained a balance even though having experienced extreme events during its lifetime. Everybody struggles through life. But how to achieve balance? That is a mystery. Faith? Hope?

 

Free Beer

Most of the time I take photos of plants, gardens or landscapes where I attempt to share something beyond sense perception. That is my fun.

The other day, not far away, I found this sign. Tomorrow is when? Tomorrow never comes. Now isn’t that the funny truth?

And after all, it is not a stretch to say beer is the ideal people and plants linkage. Ethnobotany at its finest.

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See you there tomorrow for free beer.

Landrace Clouds

What are landrace clouds? I made it up. Combination of words to describe the reality of cloud appearance in my neighborhood.

My neighborhood. According to the Swiss National Meteorological office, my Swiss neighborhood is the Northern Alps, the north facing slopes of the northernmost range of Alps in Switzerland. Using more common tourist and environmentally friendly vocabulary, my neighborhood is in the Jungfrau Region of the Berner Oberland around Interlaken. I live in the north-facing drainage basin of the famous Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountain triumvirate.

Now all that aside, over my years of walking this neighborhood, I have noticed that barely observable, minimal fluctuations in temperature, humidity, pressure and wind create quite dramatic formation and dissolution of very low level clouds. Please do not confuse them with fog. For a patient viewer, a dance reveals itself. And where there is dance, there is music. Not in astronomical time, but in real time. See it. Feel it. Hear it. 

Unmistakeable to a person on foot.

So for me, landrace clouds are very specific, locally generated occurrences. That is my starting point. That is real. Then the fiction begins. I call it fiction because of the reality that what we call ‘fixed’ or ‘settled’ science is not really fixed or settled or permanent. I like working and writing on the edge of the fixed because every edge is fuzzy and invites exploration, as do these landrace cloud phenomena.

I ask myself, what really happens at the point where a cloud begins its formation in touch with the earth? My response is a bit alchemical, a bit old school. I theorise that point as the interaction of earth, air, water…kind of special already, no? But what about ether? What happens at the moment of generation and the final moment of dissolution?

So, I go hunting in my neighborhood for generation points of landrace clouds. Following are eleven images from recent forays.

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1. Here is a generic shot of clouds in my neighborhood. Note the lake(water), the mountains(earth) and the sky(air). Note the cloud varieties.  Anybody sense the presence of ethereal?

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2. Here is a closer view showing certain cloud interactions with the earth.

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3. In this partially zoomed view, note the implied dynamics of the landrace cloud edges.

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4. In this zoomed view it is clear to see the scale of the landscape and the recently generated landrace cloud.

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5. And now the landrace cloud hunt begins–first person–on the ground–in your face.

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6. I learned the landrace cloud dynamics first hand. They always move. Their edges always change. The harder I looked, the further away they were.

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7. On another day, I learned that if I just stood still long enough, the landrace clouds came to me. But on this day no such luck.

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8. Without the opportunity to be at the point of cloud generation, I had so satisfy the walk by appreciating such details as here.

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9. Spring wild flowers in Alp pastures never cease to amaze.

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10. But as I was looking for the landrace cloud points of generation, I saw this hut at the edge of the forest.

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11. And at the peak of the roof,  protecting this hut, was…

All of the above represent a ‘typical’ walk in my neighborhood. And that is why fiction is just too close to fact. 

Lunch

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I had lunch, with a couple chums, over at my friend’s place today.

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In case you think it was too early to have a picnic…just nearby the first spring hay was being cut. And, oh how I wish I could share with you that sweet spring green fragrance.

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This is the pasture the morning before it was cut.

Corner Store

I grew up on the East Side of Detroit, post WW2, near the City Airport. Then, Detroit was booming, steel and autos, proud and popular. At the corner of our block, there was a store where, if I had a note from my mum, I could buy her a package of cigarettes. The real grocery shopping though, was done with my dad’s car taking us to Kroger super market about a mile away. And that is how I grew up for some 25 years. Groceries came from a well kept super market. Cigarettes and spur of the moment snacks from the corner store.

Then I found myself living in North Africa. No super markets and lots of corner stores, called bakals. We bought almost all our groceries for daily sustenance at the bakal. Convenient and efficient.

Time travel to the present, in Switzerland–no bakals, no corner stores but there, to serve local small populations, are local mini supermarkets–downsized versions of supermarkets. Very convenient. They are the smallest in scale of stores increasing in size as the surrounding populations increase in size. Yes, there are supermarkets. Yes, there are regional sized superstores.

Yet, even with all that, there exists these days an annual excitement like we use to have 50 years ago in Detroit when we would go downtown once a year for a special shopping festival–like the Christmas season. Here, once a year, end of the harvest season, in the capital city of Bern, there is an onion festival. There are two images in this post. Above is the 2018 festival itself. Below is the content of a shopping bag from the festival. The shopping bag collection of goods can not be found in local stores now, or fifty years ago, or in North African bakals.

Not bragging–just amazed at the range of goods. Pain d’épices from France. Onions and garlic from Germany and France. Decorative garlic, onions and peppers from Switzerland. Honeys and blood orange marmalade from Southern Italy and magenbrot from Switzerland. 

Holiday season is upon us like no corner store could imagine.

Best wishes to all.

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Shopping bag content.

The promise is yet to come

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Corylus avellana, 600 meters above sea level, 12June2010, North facing slope, Bernese Highlands, Swiss Alps.

Hazelnut or filbert. At the risk of sounding too much like an oldtimer…

Once upon a time, before European mass produced chocolate became common in the United States, if you wanted chocolate with nuts, you had primarily chocolate with peanuts. Then if you took the big voyage to Europe and tried to find chocolate and peanuts…impossible.  Chocolate and nuts in Europe meant chocolate and hazelnuts. Need I say mouth watering?  

600 m above sea level

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Swiss Alps spring pastures

At 600 meters above sea level, early May in the Bernese Highlands, grassland pastures are full with first wild flowers. Imagine in the air, the fragrance of fresh green pasture spring.

Real Life or Dream

I have had a difficult time writing this. Not only because it is personal, but because it is also unsettling, unique, even frightening. Some of you may be aware that I suffered a stroke just about a year ago. Lots of people suffer strokes. I have been fortunate in my rehabilitation. I can talk. I can walk. I can write. I can take care of myself. These were not the case in the first three weeks following the stroke. So let me say to all my medical support, nurses and therapists thank you very much. Now, it is just me and the daily mental battle of rehab vs retrogression. No big deal. Humans seem to need battles to excel, to live. Strange as it seems.

For me, it is the first three weeks that perplex me, that put me into some kind of twilight zone between dreams and real life. It had been signed off at the time as stroke induced dreams but they came in such volume, in such intensity, with such fear. Then a couple days after a full night dream wherein I had violently struggled to free myself from entrapment, I noticed an horrendous bruise on my thigh at a place that could have easily occurred in my dream, so I had to ask myself dream or real life? And if it was real life why do I not recall my activities that night? I only recall the ‘dream’ and that ‘dream’ did not occur in the hospital.

Because of these uncertainties, I feel obliged to recall them in detail. Those ‘dreams’ in detail will become a series of short stories, if I have the fortitude to work through them. Fortitude? Well, since the stroke, one of the lingering effects has been my inability to even come close to multi-tasking. So I have stepped away from what many of us see as the natural multi-tasking complexities of the modern Western world.

The following set  of photos exemplify what I find as simply satisfying in life these days. And when I try to resolve the awkward and fearful complexities of the first three weeks after my stroke…I rarely have the will power to remember or the endurance to examine. Rather I go out for a walk in the fresh air. The therapists call it looking to the future instead of the past. I can live with that; but the dream versus real life intrigues me.

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