Ask just about anyone in Paris how to get to the Arch, and they will quickly direct you to Arc de Triomphe, even if you specifically ask for the Arc of Defense. Visitors to the city of light focus on the iconic memorial commissioned by Napoleon in 1805 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz* but my destination was the Arc of Defense.
In the early 14th century, a covered wooden bridge was built at an angle over the Reuss River to provide convenient passage between the town ramparts (defensive walls.) The utility of the bridge was essential, but decorative elements crept into the design over the years. There are a series of paintings in the rafters depicting the history of the town. Today they are dark, and in a brief visit, it is difficult to appreciate the historical significance. In 1993 the bridge caught fire, and the bridge was severely damaged. It was carefully rebuilt, and today it draws visitors from all over the world.
For me, it was the mass planting of the dragon wing begonias, red geraniums, Swedish ivy, and vinca major that caught my attention. This ribbon of color is the power of flowers. Flowers invite everyone from all over the world to walk through a tunnel of flowers.
When I was growing up there was American Cheese & then for something fancy there was Swiss Cheese. So many decades later in Switzerland, there is no “Swiss” cheese, but there is Tilsiter, Appenzeller, Emmentaler, Le Gruyere, and many more. The uniqueness of these flavors is attributed to the mountain meadows the Brown Swiss, Simmental, Braunvieh breeds of cattle graze on to create these flavors. Today in Murren, there was a cow parade. Some of the 270,000 which have been up in the alps for the summer came down through town. This event is a celebration of the grazing traditions and cheese making Switzerland cherishes. The dairy cattle are accompanied by herdsmen who will spend the summer: milking each cow twice a day, collecting the milk, and making it into cheese in the mountains. Doing all of this high in the Alps is quite a remarkable, physical, and logistical endeavor.
Murren, Switzerland is a village where flowers and gardening in the summer appear to be a passion equal to snow sports in the winter. Visiting here for a few days I’m staggered by the beautiful displays of flowers seen everywhere I turn.
Murren is a popular destination for travelers, so it would be easy to assume this is done just for the tourists who come. Though the visitors speak a multitude of languages, nearly everyone understands the language of beauty in the window boxes and small gardens terraced on the slopes.
Fontainebleau, home of French Royalty for over 700 years, including a series of Louie, Louie, Louie’s, Emperor Napoleon, Josephine, and more survives as an architectural and artistic history of France. There are 1500 rooms, w/ marble halls, gilded ceilings and paintings larger than a two-car garage door. I’d always heard of this place, I’ve seen the view of the grounds from the sky while watching the Tour de France. It is magnificent. The famous double staircase is a historical architectural feature built during the reign of Louis XIII (1610-43) by Androuet du Cerceau. The staircase leads to the entry of the Chapel. Since the French Kings saw themselves as God, I suppose guests who were invited to arrive at this grand stair would be expected to worship the King. The enormity overwhelms you. It helps to focus on the tiny decorative features such as these tiny carved hearts and the colors of the cape in yet another portrait of someone obviously famous but unknown to me.
July and August are hot months in Phoenix, AZ, severe hot like Minnesota is cold in January and February. So for me, it is an excellent time to stay inside and do some summer reading. I started with a novel, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Richard Powers, The Overstory and it is all about trees!
As the summer heat continued I was having so much fun I read Mark Lynas, Seeds of Science Why we got it so wrong on GMO’s
The world seems to be in a complete frenzy over the scientific efforts to genetically modify living things.
Add a Cemetery to Your Travel Plans? Here’s the one you shouldn’t miss!
A cemetery may not be one of the first things you think of when it comes to visiting new cities, but I encourage you to reconsider. If you visit Buenos Aires, Argentina, don’t miss Recoleta Cemetery. It is one of the most famous and elaborate cemeteries in the world. Here is a walled city filled with grand architecture, riveting stories, and intricate symbols. Since 1888 an Argentinian living in a grand house in Buenos Aires knew the only place to reside in death would be in the Cementerio de la Recoleta. Recoleta is 13.5 acres crammed with mausoleums, and the residents are in their final resting place. Overlooking the view from the rooftop of our hotel, the cemetery structures fascinate both at sunrise and sundown.
Weather is an element of gardening. The sun, temperature, and moisture are alongside us as we work to create our own piece of paradise. Late snow in Spring, a dry spell in Summer, an early frost in Fall are events that can throw us off course. A weather event, yet one we can work through.
I go out early in my garden and wander through slowly, looking closely at the blooms and the leaves of the plants and trees. I like to watch the light breaking on the horizon. Some days I find things. It might be a tiny feather, a broken bird egg, or a dragonfly that will hover no more. I pick them up, and over time, create my cabinet of curiosities. I like this chance to look more closely at my garden residents.