Tag Archive | nature

What Little Beauties Will Appear?

20180708_0922495491600727189644411.jpg20180708_0923127802616713461733185.jpg20180708_0924051615899125882250094.jpgThis morning, I was surprised when Lila and I were out for our usual walk because we came upon a field of blossoming flowers. Walkers passed us by as I snapped some pictures.  One couple stopped and admired the field right along with us.

“Do you happen to know what kind of flower that is?” I asked as I pointed at what I thought was a poppy. Its delicate petals fluttered in the breeze.

“We think it’s a poppy,” the man and woman said in unison.

“I don’t remember this field of flowers being here last year,” I said. Lila’s nose and paws were going farther into the field as she munched on some tall grass.

“They must have planted these wild flowers last year when they were fixing up the place,” the man reminded me.

“It’s going to be fun to watch,” said the lady. We smiled and nodded at each other as we went along our way.  I thought back to when Lila and I walked about the park last summer.  The walkers and bikers were only able to travel one half of the park, and the part where the wild flowers were was unreachable because of the rebuilding.  A bike path was added to hook up with the current one, plus a wooden foot bridge was built over part of the brook.  Most people do not go down to that part of the brook anymore because of how the foot bridge was constructed.  Many large rocks now hug the shoreline there, which makes it difficult for us to climb down to the water.  We now admire the brook from the bridge.  Since there was much digging going on last year, mice, moles, and turtles scampered around the paths looking lost and missing their homes.  Sort of like us because we weren’t able to walk around our usual way either.  Once I heard what I thought was a deer bounding about in the woods, crunching bushes and bramble as he ran to find some shelter.

This year, the creatures have settled in and are back to hiding in their homes, and we get to walk around the entire park because no part of the path is blocked. The wild flowers took the place of some beautiful towering trees that are missed, but there were never any wild flowers in the park before.  It’s nice to see them growing in the July sun.  At first, I missed the natural look of things and the way they were, but now I wonder what little beauties will appear in the field by the brook when August comes along.

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers… ~ Robert Herrick

 

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Closer to the Mountains

Our next stop took us up little by little to be closer to the mountains.  The train trip to the quaint town of Grindelwald from Interlaken took 33 minutes, to be exact!  We walked a short distance to find Hotel Belvedere, where we would stay for the next three nights.  Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but the lady at reception offered us a welcome drink, which we enjoyed on the terrace.

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere

Every hotel where we stayed included breakfast, but it wasn’t just any breakfast. Large rooms greeted us with tables of food.  There were eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, lunch meats, Swiss cheeses, loaves of bread ready for slicing, cereal, yogurt, and fruit.  Some places had coffee machines with buttons where we could choose a latte or cappuccino.  The Hotel Belvedere had a beautiful restaurant where we enjoyed all this, plus seeing and tasting honey from a honeycomb.

The highlights of our stay were walking about the town to explore the restaurants and take in the picturesque views.

Another highlight was when we took a round-trip ride on a cogged wheel train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Kleine Scheidegg has an altitude of 6,761 feet and sits at the foot of the Eiger North Wall.  (The movie The Eiger Sanction was filmed here.)

From Kleine Scheidegg, travelers can take the Jungfrau Railway, which climbs to the Eiger Glacier Station. This trail travels partway through a mountain at quite the incline, with a few stops on the way.  I wasn’t sure about going on this next jaunt, but my husband talked me into it.  When we reached the top, which has an altitude of 11,332 feet, we disembarked to go to a building.  There are many tourist attractions, such as a tour, ice palace, hikes, restaurant, shops, and observation decks.  We did not stay long because my husband had a reaction to the high altitude, so we headed back down the mountain as soon as we could.  This was okay with me, because I felt a little light-headed too.  Luckily, we got our Jungfrau-Top of Europe Passport stamped before we left!

As we traveled on the Jungfrau Railway, we couldn’t help but appreciate all the work that went into its construction. The construction began in July 1896.  From our Jungfrau–Top of Europe Passport:

Swiss industrial magnate Adolf Guyer-Zeller has an audacious idea while on a hike. The “railway king” wants to blast a tunnel through the rock of the Eiger and Monch and construct a cogwheel railway to the Jungfrau summit.  Local people recognize the touristic potential and support his plan.

The workers make rapid progress in the tunnel; however the mountain takes its toll. On 26 February 1899, an accident with explosives claims the lives of six men.  A miner’s daily wage is only 4.60 francs.  Strikes break out, whereby the management reacts with dismissals.

As an incentive, a reward is offered to the shift that makes the breakthrough. On 21 February 1912, the miners use more dynamite than is permitted and blast through to daylight.  The shout of “Through!” echoes along the tunnel and the workers fall into each other’s arms.  The masterpiece has finally been achieved!

Mr. Guyer-Zeller died in 1899 from pneumonia, but his family carried out his plan. In the beginning of December 1905, there were some financial problems that forced the work to be halted for two years.  After a 16-year construction period, the final station to Jungfraujoch opened on February 21, 1912.

Here are some pictures from the cogged wheel train trip:

It was nice getting closer to the mountains, but we didn’t mind seeing them from afar either!

When we left the hotel, the hospitable lady at reception gave us this little package of Swiss chocolates!

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere Departing Treats of Chocolates

I hope you can join me next time for our last stop of the trip: Lucerne.

Leave a Trail

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A couple of Saturdays ago, it snowed about six inches, and the thought of walking the dog on Sunday seemed like a challenge. I knew the sidewalk to the park was not plowed yet, but I put on my boots with the yak tracks and set off with Lila by my side.  As we walked along the snowy path, there was only one set of people tracks made by a person with smaller boots than mine.  It looked like the person marched through the snow lifting their knees with each step.  I tried to follow the footsteps because it would be easier than making my own.  The person who had gone this way before me did not appear to drag their feet.  I tried to do the same.

Lila didn’t worry about following someone else’s tracks. She walked and ran along and made her own path and didn’t care about ruining the blanket of pristine snow with her scattered trail.  Every so often, she stopped and put her nose straight in the snow in search of whatever had caught her attention.  When her snout was out from underneath the pile, her face was speckled with white flakes, and I wondered how she could tolerate that cold up her nostrils.  It didn’t bother her because she continued to do that all along the way.

Traveling was easier when we finally got to the plowed part of the park. Lila stayed to the side to walk on a tiny path of snow.  A lot of people were walking that afternoon enjoying how the fresh snow made everything spotless.  The clouds were light and fluffy too, drifting by like a summer day.

Lila was excited when we got back to the snowy path leading us on our way home. The path I’d followed about 45 minutes earlier was still there, but someone had walked over the tracks I made.  Even though we walked farther along the same way, I did not see the crisscross pattern of my yak tracks.  Every step was covered by someone else’s, but Lila’s tracks were where she left them.

Even if a path has already been made, we don’t have to follow it, even though it might be easier. Sometimes we have to make our own new tracks.  Be like Lila, and make your own trail.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where
there is no path and leave a trail.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hanging On . . .

While on walks at the preserve with Lila our dog this fall, I snapped a few pictures.  Seeing some of the leaves still hanging on during mid-November was quite a change to what we’re used to in Minnesota – our fall weather was so nice this year.  Now that Mr. Frost has visited us, almost all of the leaves are resting on the ground waiting for the snow to fall.

In autumn, don’t go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks! ~Mehmet Murat ildan

With the Light

Camp Fire

The stack of logs was perfectly arranged. Each one stood at an angle resting on its neighbor like a stack of playing cards waiting to be made into a house.  A match was struck to the tinder below.  We watched as sparks slowly ignited.  As each spark grew to a flame, each log became part of the fire.  The smoke gently blew towards me but quickly jumped to make another route.  The smoky trail chased away the ones in its path.  They moved to breathe in the more pristine air that was untouched by what the flames left behind.

I watched the tiny fragments that fell away from the log. The fire embraced the embers surrounding it inside and out.  Even though it burns, the ember doesn’t disappear quickly.  It sits and waits as if it enjoys the hot flame.  Does it know the beautiful colors it’s made by being with the light?  Deep red and orange flickers travel up towards the sky to make a yellow glow.  That light illuminated the pine trees that surrounded us and sprang towards the sky.  I imagined the glimmering tower of brightness could be seen in the darkness from many miles away.

“Look how beautiful the fire is now,” I said to my family. I grabbed my camera to take a picture.  Just before I was ready to snap a photo, the stack crumbled.  We giggled at the timing.  I didn’t get the perfect picture I hoped to get.  Even though the stacks of firewood fell in a pattern of their own, it still made a pretty picture.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop:  Write a blog post inspired by the word “light.”  Check out other blog posts by clicking on the link below. 

mama kat's button

 

 

To Walk Along the Jagged Rocks

“Let’s run over to Itasca before they get here,” my son-in-law Michael said. The four of us grabbed what we needed and went to the car. Michael drove while Laura, Matt and I watched the scenery go by. As we bumped along the highway, we listened to some old tunes back from when I was growing up, and no one wanted to change the station!

The day was just like the others since the four of us got there. It felt a little warm even though the sun wasn’t shining down on us. The smoke from the fires in Canada floated to northern Minnesota making the sky hazy. Some could smell the smoke, and I felt like I got a whiff once in a while, but I think that might have been my imagination. We sort of enjoyed the blanket of protection from what would have been a steamy summer day.

“This is the road I took to get here,” said Matt. “I think I went around the lake the other way.”

“Ya, this is the way you should go home,” we chimed in together. I thought about how our family get together was a hodgepodge of an event. Laura, Michael and I arrived at the resort on Wednesday night, Matt drove in on Thursday morning, and the rest of us were waiting for Dad and Katie to arrive that afternoon.

“I think I’ve been here before a long time ago with my family when I was growing up,” I said. When we entered the state park, trees towered high above us. Pristine lakes with names of women poked out to show us not only trees grow there. We only saw a few of the 100 lakes during our short stay.

After parking, we headed toward the path, and the Headwaters – Caretaker Woman greeted us:

We read the sign above to learn that the woman is “releasing a clutch of small turtles from a basket, renewing the seasons and continuing the waters of life.  Her flowing hair is like that of flowing water.  The turtles, strong water symbols, also symbolize the universal cycles of life in Anishinabe (Ojibwe) belief.”  Then I understood why all the lakes are named after women.  Click on the picture of the sign to learn more!

A few more steps down the road, we found the spot where the mighty Mississippi starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s traditional for visitors to walk over the jagged rocks just to say you crossed the spot where the Mississippi River begins, but for some reason we didn’t even think to make that little journey. Funny that we traveled so far and didn’t do what everyone else does when they get there. That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the view.

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We continued to walk down a path along Lake Itasca. Just as we were on our way back to the parking lot, the phone rang. Katie let us know they were waiting for us at the cabin. We left just as quickly as we arrived anxious to all be together again.

Maybe another time we’ll all get to walk along the jagged rocks together.

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. ~George Santayana