Blue/White

Delicate yellow and pink blossoms are popping up around Zurich. Piercing through the crisp air, grey fog and the dark concrete, I am reminded of the changing season in a most gentle yet impatient sort of way. It is definitely not yet Spring here. But those tiny early flowers are definitely gracefully impatient to show their selves.

However, my heart is still in a winter sleep. Patient, it demands little of colour and form. Luxurious round piles of sparkling snow, the sun reflecting diamonds on the surface. An ever shifting sky of blue and grey, and maybe even glorious and surprising gold from a low sun. Nights spent indoors, around a table, with a candle and wine glasses, simple darks and lights. And of course, a little chocolate to make it through the cold.

Swiss mountains:

Schächental (translated, ~ shadow valley)

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Weissberg (translated, white mountain)

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Zurich

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Finland:

Lapland

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…well we didn’t always stay inside at night, when the lights and darks were happening outside in the sky.

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three

In Japan, 3 is a very auspicious number.

… and after looking auspicious up in the dictionary, I’m thinking it fits perfectly with this nostalgic post.

Auspicious: attended by good fortune, suggesting that future success is likely

I am blessed to have had the experiences to make this compilation of 3 x 3, and I’m hoping the winds of fate will bring more…

(please click the small horizontal pictures for the full effect, as these were the original design but the blog format makes them tiny)

Cat love: 
Sassy, Montreal
Rosa, Zurich
Fluffy, Calgary

Connecting over water: 
Zurich, Switzerland
Prague, Czech Republic
Takayama, Japan

(below: Prague, Zurich, Takayama)

Remembrance:
 Mont Royal, Montreal, Canada
Reipa, Norway 
Daioji Temple, Takayama, Japan

Autumn sights in Zurich

After a few last attempts to hold onto summer (see: Saturday afternoons by the lake), the bright oranges, reds and yellows around Zurich started to tell the story of cooler nights, foggy mornings, and the crisp breeze causing people to get cozy and bring out the winter comforter. It is definitely autumn!

Late summer sun at the lake

With the fog lifting up by the afternoon, the bright blue sky has been an exquisite complement to the symbols of the season: late harvest plants, lingering flowers, plump pumpkins, and the changing of the leaves. I’ve been walking around the ‘m0untain’ near my apartment and marveling at the final stages of summer blending seamlessly into one of my favourite times of year. As a self-declared jacket addict, this is a great time of year since I’m assured of the need for a great long spy trench coat and a cozy wool scarf before venturing out.

pursuing sun

gardening yoga

And as the growing season wraps up, the plot farmers are hard at work preparing their garden for the winter crops and bringing in the last of the summer’s. This, of course, means pumpkins are ready!¬†To fully embrace this I biked out of Zurich to a nearby you-pick farm called Jucker Farmart. Here they not only display the winning pumpkins in the annual ‘biggest’ competition, there are also pumpkin-made displays with a new theme every year. It just so happened that I decided to visit the farm when the theme was particularly original: Switzerland. Yep, we are talking about displays complete with a gigantic cow, Heidi, the Matterhorn, an alp horn and more made from various shapes, colours and sizes of pumpkin. You couldn’t help but smile at the fun displays, the history and symbols they chose, and the faces of the kids who were totally entranced by the pure quantity of pumpkins and all their alien forms.

700 kg winner and contenders

The three-canton vote to unite Switzerland... in pumpkin form
Pumpkin carver

And along with pumpkins, also comes apples. And in Switzerland they make a fresh pressed apple juice, mixed with pear as well, called Most (pronounced Moescht)

pouring fresh Most into bottles

And one final impression from another ‘mountain’ above Zurich (they are really more like hills but have the name of -berg, meaning mountain. Hmm… they don’t quite look like the mountains I know) looking out towards the Alps and the surrounding towns. The sun was setting and casting a glow that lit the oranges of the hill and the purple of the horizon.

Spinning lights, Jumping bodies

Happy Saturday!

I have so much to post about- trips, pumpkins, friends and music. But I couldn’t find the inspiration to bring it all together just yet. After a great dinner and a night out yestarday with the usual suspects, I ended up with a bunch of the standard crazy party pictures. These are often deemed the worst offence for facebook/blog posting, but let me make my case first before you expect a slew of flashed out faces or questionable dance moves caught on film. In any case ¬†as a group who don’t ‘get out much’ therein avoiding paying outrageous entrance fee at the Zurich clubs, I don’t know where we fall in terms of tearing up the dance floor.¬†Can’t say we fall into the group of¬†poorly coordinated young people, but we were not fox trotting on the dance floor either.

In their own raw energetic blurry way I felt that I should put these pictures out into the world. There is just something about capturing a smile within the spinning lights and jumping bodies which is a bit magical and crystallizes the joy of the moment as everyone lets go of their own inhibitions and sings at the top of their lungs finding their own groove to the music. It is also something I cherish about yoga, a bonding through using the whole physical body as a way of expressing yourself beyond the conversation around the dinner table. Communication happens through eye contact, some synchronous hip shaking, and incoherent hand signals (good thing they are only usually representing two actions- bathroom or beer).

 

Needless to say, more stories to come with a little more ‘focus’

 

Wrapping up

Back from the village markets in the dry and dusty north of Burkina, and packing my bag to head back to Switzerland! A quick turn around from the simple life to increasing degrees of luxury. In Ouaga,¬†I’m currently impressed by the abundance of things like cheese, street lights and traffic, and the lack of chickens, pigs, and shoeless children.

A few quick snaps of the markets and the Ouaga life with the family in ‘Paradise’.

Wheeling and dealing...
sun setting after a long hot day
lunch in the field provided by one of the villages
Made a few new friends- Alma, Abidjail and Maimouna
not rice! back in Ouaga
Ensemble direct from the tailors... wrong colour, wrong cut, perfect photo opportunity
some of the family in Paradise

Tourist weekend

Before taking off for the field trips, my house mates and I had an intense weekend of trying to be a little local, as well as a lot tourist .

Saturday at the big market of Ouaga-¬†my female house mate and I¬†bargained hard for some jewellery, scarfs and leather sandals. The 10 men that accompanied us were always aiming to please as they searched the far corners of the huge market to find the exact belt, design or print that we desired. It was an intense 5 hours of people calling and pulling us into their stands. We were continually brought into¬†‘confidential’ council¬†while negotiating prices. And we¬†did well not to get too flustered and remain calm and patient… A success for the 2 ‘blancs’, I feel.

Sunday was a tour out of Ouaga to the village of Tiébélé, close to the Ghana border in the south. An amazing traditional culture of house building involving unique shapes based on marital status, and painted designs on the inside and out, also with symbolic meanings. I will make a post on it all when I return, but for now a few quick glimpses of what we saw.

Lunch en route
connected to the earth
here comes trouble- they were very interested in the visitors to the village
symbolic paintings at the 'local gym' (our guide's joke)
almost ran out of fuel on the way back. good thing you can buy it from a street stand, and take a cigarette break too.