Eat, shop, parasail? The travel guides encourage you to do all three in Geneva, Switzerland. Along the city streets in this international hub of agencies, embassies, and banks, the mail carriers navigate their scooters, overloaded with enormous yellow bundles of mail past the World Health Organization headquarters, the International Red Cross, United Nations, and many more.
One of my earliest memories is standing on a stool alongside my Mother, shaping bits of pie crust into little cinnamon swirls. I made noodles for Sunday dinner when I was ten years old, and my Mother was in the hospital, recovering after the birth of my baby sister. I was a flighty 15 years old when I substituted cornmeal for corn starch in a strawberry pie.
“As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.”
Versailles: Most recognized for the grand palace, the grounds play more than a supporting role; with 2100 acres of gardens, sculptures, and fountains.
Visiting Versailles is overwhelming; many people focus on exploring the palace and briefly visit the gardens. I did just the opposite, beginning my 15-hour day in the gardens. Even then, I walked only 12 miles of the garden’s 30 miles of pathways. I know I missed seeing so much of it.
I begin my day with a cup of coffee. I’ve been doing so for decades. Over the years, I’ve had it boiled, dripped, pressed, and expressed. I’ve had Cafe au Lait, New Orleans Chicory Coffee, Swedish Egg style, Turkish with cardamom, Cowboy style in an enamel pot, Italian in a tiny cup, and most recently Costa Rican brewed with a Chorreador.
There are so many delicious flavors found around the world and each taste reminds me of how interdependent we are for our pleasures of the table. I have great respect for the farmer, the harvester, the processor, which is not a dirty word but does require the dirty work of cleaning, drying, milling, and packing all done before it arrives in our kitchen.
Spring is a date on the calendar. The feeling of spring is what happens in the garden. Whenever it arrives at your door, it is a season of hope, renewal, buds swelling into blossoms, and new leaves unfurling color on the landscape. Spring summons joy in the soul. Even in this moment of COVID-19 when everything seems upside down, the garden grows, ignoring the noise and responding only to the changing light and awakening life.
We live in a world seemingly obsessed with lists; we have lists for the largest, fastest, tallest, longest, oldest, of nearly everything you can imagine. As I began my visit to the Padua Botanic Garden in northern Italy, I entered with the assumption; this is the world’s oldest known botanic garden. The small print in the garden brochure states it is the world’s oldest university garden in its original place of origin. The garden, in continuous operation since 1545, is a very old garden. Only the Botanical Garden of the University of Pisa rivals this claim as it was established in 1544 under the rule of Cosimo I de” Medici but was relocated in 1563. Making it very old but different.
Can you be dazzled by vegetables? In France, indeed you can.
Villandry is one of the most famous gardens in all of France. While Monet’s Giverny may be more familiar and Versailles more historic, Villandry is more fantastic for what it does with plants. Located some three hours southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, Villandry is best known for the carpet style bedding plants in its famous kitchen garden. Villandry dazzles you with vegetables.
As I look back at my garden travel memories of 2019 the resounding theme is color! We began the year exploring South America, took a September train trip in France, Switzerland, Italy, and took a trip to Central America and Mexico, in December. Everywhere I went I found colorful food, critters, art, and, of course, colorful flowers. These images are from Central and South America, the colors in Europe are equally wonderful but that will have to be another story.