Saturday, October 31, 2015

Indian Summer

I may not be on the East coast of the USA where the phrase was originally coined, but it so fits today’s weather: one would think that we were in mid-September or the beginning of October, not its last day!

I started out on my walk dressed as I have been for a month, but it took only 100 steps for the sleeveless jacket to come off and it was early on in the forest that the sweatshirt also ended up around my waist. We haven’t enjoyed weather this warm for quite some time.

The oranges are basically gone – a cushion of brown underfoot; some yellows linger and there is even the odd red leaf, mostly strawberry or blackberry.

the leaves cushion the path

strawberries are long gone

 Oh the beauty though of being able to see further in the forest, to notice the light shining on the moss and ferns: as usual I needed to do no staging, mother nature arranges things so well.

and yes ferns can live in cold climates

parts of the forest have a lot of moss

Believe it or not, I found this patch of moss with that leaf turning it into a heart just like that!

There was the noise as well: of me shuffling leaves or if I stood very still, I could hear the sound of the larch needles falling onto the other leaves – the sound of rain without the wet or the gray – I’ll take it!

Larch needles falling on dried leaves sounds like rain drops.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Off the beaten path

Which I could just as well have entitled “detour” or “wandering” or “once again I took the path less traveled”.

Yesterday when I set out for my last weekend in the mountains I had no intended plan other than delivering some flyers on the way. My last stop was just in front of the border at the Café de la Frontière restaurant, run by one of our favorite waiters from years ago at another restaurant. Now although I was just depositing some flyers I wanted to at least say hi (he is the other person who gives hugs as good as my younger son) so peeked into the restaurant instead of just leaving the flyers on the sideboard of the entry. Not only did I get my usual hug, but another of our favorite waitresses from the same restaurant of days past was there having a cocktail before lunch (she now is the manager in yet another restaurant – one that myself and the boys really like, but as they are both less available, we have not yet found the time to go back there). Ah, the beauty of it all – so stopped for some conversation and a tomato juice – after all I was getting on the road, right? She and I made a date for lunch next week.

So it was almost an hour later before I again got in the car and headed on. I didn’t need to stop for lunch as had grabbed a sandwich before stopping with the intent of number one not being tired when I finally drove (big meals see me needing what my husband used to call a “pause”) and number two of not having to stop.

It was another of our glorious fall days so when I had to stop at the traffic light after having passed beautiful fields with rolling mountains still covered in orange and yellow, I made a snap decision and turned right instead of going straight!

A narrow road led through a small village up the hill and through the woods until I came out on a plateau overlooking Lac Léman on the one side and the back country of France on the other: wow would be about the only word that I can use to describe it. I returned through the small village of Ballaison – had always wondered where it was and how it looked when I passed the signs on the lower road, but had never bothered to stop – and continued on my way.

the scenery that had me turning off the main road

I do love my reflections

wandering through the woods

Although not wonderful sites in themselves, the views are extraordinary

The view overlooking the lake

quirky? out in the middle of nowhere someone got clever!
Ballaison's church, which I am going to have to go back and explore

the trees lining the road in Evian as I drove through

Vineyards and the mountains still covered in colors!

Today the weather is holding so yet another walk in the woods, yet another train adding color, yet another dip into my past as a child as I shuffled leaves to my heart’s content.

the yellows are predominent now, most of the orange is gone

This bird was re-introduced to the Swiss alps several years ago

I do like fall!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shoes and words of wisdom

     The last bit added on just so all would know that this is not a blog about different types of shoes, nor about acquiring, wearing or otherwise worshipping shoes.
At my age it’s all about the comfort, but I was very pleased the other day to have finally found a pair of walking shoes that are actually more feminine than my usual black or white. These have roses printed on them, making me cheerier just by putting them on.

new sneakers

No, it is about the famous Indian saying that teaches empathy for another:
Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.” Or sometimes “Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.”

Whatever the case may be, we would all do well to keep this saying foremost in our minds as none can know the path another walks: some complain so one can rather guess; others recount in great detail their current trials or health problems (and we all promised when we were younger to never follow in our mother’s, father’s, aunt’s or uncle’s way of talking only about health problems, yet we find ourselves now doing so –ah age is a great help in becoming “normal”); yet there are many who silently carry their burdens, who cheerfully face disaster, who calmly deal with tragedy – all without a word to indicate the trials that they are enduring.

But I actually digress – what brought this on was a trip to the storage space above the garage (looking for the screws, nuts and bolts belonging to the bed frame that younger son has transferred to his new flat) – didn’t find a trace of anything that could be use for the bed frame, but did come across a wonderful wooden mold that same son had done as an art project at some point – of his shoe.

If I tried to walk even a few steps in either of my son’s shoes, first of all they would fall off, secondly I would probably trip and sprain and ankle and thirdly I would get nowhere so guess I will have to exercise philosophical “walking in their shoes” instead of a true physical try.

the wooden "mold"

my foot in his footstep!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Alone or…

On one’s own.
What a difference there is depending upon how one describes the state of being alone:
The first has a rather negative sound, like it wasn’t something to be wished for, even welcomed at times; the second a much more positive spin, something one perhaps chooses to indulge in – at least for a time.

Yesterday I was on my own and had a wonderful time!

The following pictures reflect unique objects that were also “alone” in their site: some we wouldn’t even every want to be multiplied!

the last one standing - nothing for miles around but this lone sunflower

couldn't quite make out what kind of hunting bird, but alone

one of the three chose to keep its' leaves

far away in the middle of a field - no others in sights

there were several "alone" along the lake

two suns or two Jet d'Eaux wouldn't have the same impact at all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Construction in the alps

Only 30 or so years ago the sound of a helicopter in the alps signaled an emergency: someone who had fallen whilst mountain climbing; someone lost in the mountains; and often the outcome was not positive. Similar to my parent’s generation and their relationship to the telephone – if it rang, it bode no good: it took my siblings many years and many calls before my mother was not 100% sure that there was bad news on the other end of the line and today in the alps for the older generation the sound of helicopters still make for disquiet in their hearts.

However, today almost all construction is undertaken via helicopter and I have had the pleasure of following a few deliveries of roofing, of tiles, or pre-fab slabs of concrete.

This year where I rent has been a constant ballet of helicopters as they are undertaking a long-term change in the electrical lines: the old 220 volt ones are going to be replaced by more powerful 380 volt lines and they are also lowering them further down into the deep gorged valley so that they will be not only less exposed to the elements, but also less visible to the tourists and inhabitants of the mountain villages along the way.

However, this time it was a much more prosaic task: they were filling in holes in the road and in particular near the train station in Trétien with asphalt.  The truck with the asphalt was stationed on a parking about a kilometer away and a helicopter transferred a bucket of asphalt to the train station, returning with the empty, waiting for a re-fill and so on. They had it down to a science and although I didn’t count the number of trips I was able to determine that when the helicopter returned to the parking lot for his next load it took under a minute! He would come in nose facing left, turn and have his nose facing back to the right whilst the workers on the ground first unhooked the empty bucket then hooked up the full one – and off he went. This only stopped on the hour when the next lot of trains was expected.

parking lot in the bend before the village

unhooking the empty bucket

hooking up the full bucket

lowering it towards the trains station

hovering whilst the full is unhooked and the empty put back on

repeat: unhook



take off

and away it goes whilst the workers re-position the empty to be filled

back to the train station

coming in - nose pointed towards the valley

turning whilst the buckets are swapped

re-positioned for the next delivery: the whole process was about 30 seconds!

It was fun watching and probably a lot more ecological than trying to bring up big trucks then transfer to smaller, then smaller, then buckets. Also much quicker thus probably largely compensating for the price of the helicopter.

Still observing as I walked back up the mountain

In the distance the ballet continues until the next train

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Small is beautiful

Where else can one go from an international city to my mountains (normally an approx. two hour drive) via another set of mountains? Experiencing many types of terrain, the beauty of fall colors, the first frosting of snow, the cows in their pastures, small villages all in the space of a few hours.

Left home leisurely, drove along beautiful Lake Leman through France. Once the corner is turned I crossed a small valley and up into the alps on one side.

Once one turns into the valley from France there are part of the alps

animals along the way

mushrooms galore

more interesting sheep

love the horns
Stopped for lunch – delicious – then went over another pass down into a different valley (towards Gruyère) for coffee and a visit in Charmey. Back over the same passes then back down off that lot of alps into the valley and on to my mountains.

up the first mountain looking back


alpine meadows and tree stands
cows are hardy - out in spite of the cold

first frosting - gone by day's end

why did they leave one last plant?


One of the postal car stops

Lovely experience, wonderful day, ending with a sliver of a moon above my village.