Midwinter 2018

On Friday 21 December
it was the Winter Soltice, also known as Midwinter.
The next day was a full moon although the sky was not clear enough for me to see it.

It's also the time of the year when candlelight brings in a warming cosy atmosphere
and there is a wish to decorate with delicate seasonal things.
This tiny crystal snowflake is perfect!

This festive red candle represents the return of light which has just begun
with each day increasing by a few seconds!
The reflection can be seen in my window against the night sky!

The same window in the daytime brings in softness created by the winter's sky.

There have been rainy days and sunny ones and even snow flurries which didn't settle for long.
A few leaves hang on and make pretty silhouettes against the sky.

Like fingers which hold
fuzzy balls against the sky
touching tenderness.

Whenever the weather is dry and not too blustery, I go walking to be
amazed by nature in this wintry season.
These catkins tell me that spring will follow in good time.

I take one of the dried hydrangea flowers from my plant on the balcony.
It remains beautiful even as in this state of maturity.

Now we're leading up to Christmas which can be a little overwhelming
with the stores pushing us to buy and then buy some more
with lights that are a little over the top and a bit too bright!

I do love to keep things rather simple and really liked this elegant balsam wood
hanging decoration with a shiny crystal ball.
The night sky shows up the details the best.
I saw them at the Christmas Market in Lucerne when I visited at the beginning of  December.
You can see it here

A Christmas tree bauble speaks of Christmas which will be in two days' time.
It's a time when families like to be all together.

This year, I made a Christmas garland to hang up in my living room!
It looks very festive!

You can see them better here.
The different patterns have been collected over time from different sources.
The four blue snowflakes on the bottom row are a smaller version of the one here:
The yellow stars are from here:

whatever this present moment holds for you, embrace it,
enjoy it or learn from it.
As often as you can, keep smiling - it can make someone's day
and it embellishes our whole attitude to life
and the world around us!

Please click on each photo to enlarge them so they fill the screen!

Lucerne in December: Part 2

Let's look through the glass door to discover more of Lucerne's
lovely festive atmosphere in December in the Hotel Wilden Mann.
This double doorway is the entrance to the hotel's breakfast room
It's so welcoming!

So is the decorated tree next to the breakfast buffet.

As soon as you get out of the lift to go and have breakfast,
you walk past these beautifully decorated rooms
like these little 'salons' (sitting rooms).

This one has another lovely Christmas tree.

The warm lighting and attention to detail
makes it a joy to walk through every morning.

Being an early bird, I can take a photo of the breakfast room 
before other guests arrive.

But now it's time to go outside again and enjoy the town itself,
especially as we were blessed with blue skies on this particular day.
The jagged edge on the upper left is the overhanging roof
of the Chapel Bridge from where I took this photo.

The immense charm of Lucerne is the River Reuss which is a beautiful setting
whatever the weather.
Though I have to admit that blue skies and night-time shots are  especially beautiful.
Two buildings seem to stand out among all others.
One of them is the City Hall with clock tower
and the other is the Jesuit Church with twin spires on the preceding photo.

On the hill against the horizon,
there is a rather grand looking light-coloured building called
Château Gütsch which is another well-known landmark of Lucerne.
This is a luxury hotel and has a spectacular view over the historic city of Lucerne,
the Vierwaldstätter Lake and the mountains.

It would be nice to go up there on the hill just for the view,
but that can be for another visit!

The River Reusse running all through the town creates gorgeous reflections
even when the sky is grey.
The bridges join one part of the old town to the next.
Many of the trees are cobbled so I was glad of my comfortable walking shoes.

I especially loved this beautifully decorated house.

This view shows the bottom half of the church on the left
and a small pedestrian street which leads to our hotel.

In the late afternoon.
the atmosphere changes and the reflections deepen.

Lucerne is a town that I am planning on visiting again in the warmer months of the year,
it will look very different without all the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations,
but there will be further afield to discover and a cruise on the lake to look forward to!

Lucerne in December: Part 1

There's something very special about windows
especially warm and welcoming ones like this.
The Christmas lights are artfully arranged behind the sheer curtains
and that is perfect for my first photo of this blog entry.

A birthday gift from my daughter was a voucher for an Historic Hotel
in Switzerland this year!
What a great idea!
I chose the lakeside town of Lucerne as I hadn't been there for many years.
There is a very charming old part of town with paved streets
and many interesting and beautiful buildings.
This is the hotel called 'Wilden Mann',

Here is the outside sign.

Lucerne's most famous landmark is certainly the Chapel Bridge
or the Kapellbrücke as it's called in this German-speaking part of Switzerland.
This bridge stretches across the River Reuss and is almost 203 metres.
It was built in 1365 and is the oldest covered wooden bridge, still standing, 
in Europe.

Here is a different capture after the mist cleared,
to show the mountains behind above the lake.

The Christmas market stands were already open.
Some of them had lovely hand-crafted gifts.
I bought a few for Christmas presents.

My usual travelling companion was celebrating a birthday at the beginning of the month,
so it seemed perfect to spend a few days away to coincide with that celebration.
We travelled by train to our destination
and on the very first evening, there were lovely traditional celebrations
which started in the afternoon and went on till the evening.
The photo above shows a procession of cow-bell ringers!

There was also St.Nicholas walking round the streets with gifts for the children.

It rained at the start of our stay, but luckily not all the time
and we were able to walk in the streets and enjoy the architecture.

Here's one of the other bridges and we crossed several different ones
just for the fun of it!

The Christmas lights looked lovely as the evening came in.
Here is the Jesuit church of St. Francis Xavier
which is in the Baroque style.
The river shows off the reflections so prettily.

I took so many photographs, that I didn't quite know where to begin.
So here are the first ones and I will be showing you more in a few days!

30 Days of Perception: 21 - 30

Day 21: Reciprocal
"Hello little leaf, said I, you've found the perfect soft place to land! If I floated down from a tree, I would certainly look for a flowery landing!"
I just know that nature loves to be noticed and spoken too! An exchange takes place.

Day 21: Reciprocal
Whenever I walk along, especially on well-known paths, I connect with all the things I see. This rusting fence is a great favourite throughout all seasons when the scene changes accordingly. I say hello and run my hand along the rungs as I take in the changing scene. 
I feel that whenever I take notice of something, or someone, a silent exchange takes place. There is always a feeling of give and take.

Day 22: Silence and Stillness
I feel silence and stillness the best when I'm in nature, preferably in the presence of trees. they emanate serenity.

Day 23: Contrast
I love textures and colours and this capture expresses the contrast between them both. Even the soft netting plays a role in texture. 

Day 23: Contrast
Back to the park and away from the city's streets to be in nature and to seek out contrasts.
 I liked the contrast of colours of the bright pink of the chrysanthemums and the golden yellow of the Ginkgo leaves.
The contrast between the softness of the flowers and the grey granite steps leading up to another part of the park. We can also see a grassy slope covered in leaves and beyond that, 
a small slice of the pathway above.
Contrasts are what give a scene impact and presence and very often harmony.
 I like them very much.

Day 24: Patterns
Pattern perception, inspired by the natural world around us. Patterns are everywhere both in nature, in our bodies and in our behaviour. There's something reassuring about patterns, they give a feeling of equilibrium and inner harmony which can be seen in this sea-shell.

Day 25: Depth
A single bird sits on the crane. Beyond the city, the clouds part to reveal blue skies and gorgeous fresh snow on the surrounding mountains!
I love being able to see clear views of the horizon. It makes me feel uncluttered inside and free and encourages deep, slow breathing which is very calming. Such a view takes clears all the little thought forms from twirling inside my head! I feel renewed from head to toe and I have touched on the essential of existence!

Day 26: Rhythm
There is definite rhythm in the way the tiny black seeds are place in the pods, but also in the random way the seed pods seem to have fallen. It makes me think of jazz music!
As someone said to me: "seed-pod jazz!"

Day 26: Rhythm
When I look at the curves in these tablecloths, I see rhythm in the repeated curved shapes
like a slow dance with a sway to it!

Day 27: Change
This is a difficult challenge since the weather is uniform grey. The best I could do was to show photos taken through my kitchen window at different times of the day:
 Morning, noon and at night with the lights on in the building opposite mine.
These are the changes of lighting throughout the day.

Day 28: Wonder
I always wonder how leaves arrange themselves so gracefully when they fall from a tree. This particular one landed between two different patterns as if to draw attention to itself. It did! Wondrous!
I don't need a stunning sunset to feel a sense of wonder. The simplest of scenes all around me fill my heart with joy!

Day 28: Wonder
Seeing the eternal, infinite nature of everything around me.
When we truly see, we experience the spark of wonder that makes us connect.
I took this photo of the waxing moon early in the morning before it was really daylight.

Day 29: Interdependence
Whenever I prepare a meal or eat a fruit. I think about which country grows that food, how it grows and in which season. 
How dependent we are on the elements necessary to produce our food like: the quality of the soil, the rain and the sunshine. Then there are the people who harvest our food and the markets that sell the fresh produce. I am certainly grateful for all these different stages and feel a connection to each step and to the countries and the people
 which enables me to cook a delicious, healthy and tasty meal.
Just on one plate, I have pasta and Parmesan cheese from Italy, Chickpeas from Africa or Asia, Greek olives and vegetables from Switzerland and Spain. The basil topping comes from my own homegrown plant.
We are all interconnected and interdependent on each other.

The Italian pasta dish is called 'Cinque Pi' (Five Ps)
That means that the pasta sauce is made up of five elements beginning with the letter P:
Pomodoro (tomato)
Panna (cream)
Parmigiano (Parmesan cheese)
Pepe (pepper)
Pressemolo (parsley)

Day 30: Wholeness
When I think of the word 'Wholeness', I think of everything that surrounds me and that is part of my world: 
the sky, the clouds, the sunrise and sunset, the trees and the flowers, the buildings and everything I see that is part of me.
I am aware of all that and how I feel connected to all I see and experience.

Photography develops my awareness. It allows me to see things beyond simply looking.

This is the last part of the online course with Kim Manley Ort