The Year in Pictures

As the year is winding down, I am sharing a few more photos. They either show favorite places, or activities, and have not made it into my previous posts. I am trying to embrace the motto expressed on a historic clock in downtown Colorado Springs: Dum Vivimus Vivamus. While we live, let us live.

I hope you had a good 2016, and I wish you happiness, good health, and peace for the coming twelve months.

JANUARY

Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies, near Granby, Colorado. Our preferred destination for Nordic Skiing.

Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies, near Granby, Colorado. Our preferred destination for Nordic Skiing.

My favorite view in Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado. January often does not have snow along the Front Range

My favorite view in Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado. January is often snowless along the Front Range.

FEBRUARY

Snowshoeing at Mueller State Park, Colorado, with view of the Western Mountains.

Snowshoeing at Mueller State Park, Colorado, with view of the Western Mountains.

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, one of my favorite places.

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

MARCH

Pasque Flowers, some of the earliest spring flowers along the Front Range.

Pasque Flowers, some of the earliest bloomers in Colorado’s foothills.

Heavy spring snow along Colorado's Front Range. I wonder how the Pasque Flowers fared.

Heavy spring snow along Colorado’s Front Range. I wonder how the Pasque Flowers fared. And I hope the birds will find enough to eat.

APRIL

Blooming crabapple tree and Barker House, Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Blooming white crabapple tree and Barker House, Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Blooming crabapple tree at Evergreen Cemetery, with view of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Blooming pink crabapple tree at Evergreen Cemetery, with view of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

MAY

Yellow Warbler. By virtue of its location at the border of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, springtime is a haven for migratory birds in Colorado Springs.

Yellow Warbler. By virtue of its location at the border of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, the Front Range is a haven for migratory birds in springtime.

Spring brings new generations of Cottontail Rabbits into our neighborhood.

Spring brings new generations of Cottontail Rabbits into our neighborhood.

JUNE

Manitou Lake with view of North Face of Pikes Peak. Teller County, Colorado. The snow has not been gone long at this elevation.

Manitou Lake with view of North Face of Pikes Peak, Teller County, Colorado. The snow has not been gone long at this elevation (7,700 feet).

Heron rookery near Manitou Lake.

Great Blue Heron at Heron rookery near Manitou Lake.

JULY

Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea), our state flower. June through August are best for viewing wildflowers in the mountains.

Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea), our state flower. June through August are best for viewing wildflowers in the mountains.

Mariposa Lily (Calochortus gunnisonii).

Mariposa Lily (Calochortus gunnisonii).

AUGUST

View of the Front Range during a typical afternoon thunderstorm from the plains that abut Colorado Springs.

View of the Front Range during a typical afternoon thunderstorm from the plains east of Colorado Springs.

Clark's Nutcracker in an aspen tree in the mountains of Colorado.

Clark’s Nutcracker in an aspen tree in the mountains of Colorado.

SEPTEMBER

Fortuitous photo-op during sun- and birdrise.

Fortuitous photo-op during sun- and birdrise.

Black-tailed Prairie Dog. This iconic rodent of the Great Plains often is the victim of development.

Black-tailed Prairie Dog. This iconic rodent of the Great Plains often is the victim of development.

OCTOBER

City Hall, Auxerre, France. I visited my best friend and her family.

City Hall, Auxerre, France. During my trip to Europe, I visited my best friend and her family.

Auxerre is situated along the picturesque Yonne River.

Auxerre is situated along the picturesque Yonne River.

NOVEMBER

Landscape of my childhood. Rhine River with fall colors, Germany.

Landscape of my childhood. Rhine River with fall colors, Germany.

More fall impressions from my dad's hometown in Germany.

More fall impressions from my dad’s hometown in Germany.

DECEMBER

Frosty view of Pikes Peak from the deck at Fountain Creek Nature Center, south of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Frosty view of Pikes Peak from the deck at Fountain Creek Nature Center, south of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Virginia Rail near Fountain Creek Nature Center.

Virginia Rail in Fountain Creek Regional Park.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/das-jahr-in-photos/

Paris, but not Quite

It is difficult to resist the siren song of Paris when I am so close to its attractions. I find myself with a three hour layover between my arrival from Auxerre, and my departure for Germany. Traveling on the Metro to the Gare de L’Est entails two changes, and already I begin to feel immersed in France’s capital, at least in its subterranean realm. Nonetheless, I opt not to store my suitcase at the East Train Station and hurry through one of my favorite cities for a few brief hours. I content myself instead with observing fellow travelers and merchants, alongside doves and sparrows which seem to materialize in every place where humans consume food. On a more somber note, I don’t recall heavily armed police carrying machine guns here before, a reminder of our new, sad reality.

Window at the Gare de L’Est

I reminisce about previous voyages to this metropolis on the Seine River. Whenever I am here, I feel the need to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Sacré Coeur, but during my most recent trip a year and a half ago I also retraced some of the footsteps of Gertrude Stein, and the artistic circle that gathered at her Paris Salon in the early twentieth century. My initial curiosity had been kindled by a highly entertaining Woody Allen comedy, “Midnight in Paris”, and fanned by “The Paris Wife”, by Paula McLain, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage.

Gertrude, an American expatriate, was unconventional, to say the least. Independent, lesbian, progressive, modernist are only a few of her epithets. An avid art collector, she recognized the potential of diverse painters before they found fame, for example of Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. Pablo Picasso and Dali, too, frequented her social circle. She assembled around her future literary greats as well, among them Ernest Hemingway whom she mentored in his formative years, even though they later had a falling out. He represents the prototypical “American in Paris” whose life was forever altered by the cultural mecca Paris has always been. Some of his experiences are immortalized in his first novel, “The Sun also Rises.”

img_0943

Hemingway’s apartment in Paris, 74, Rue du Cardinal Lemoine

Seeing the sites of these seminal happenings was inspiring. Hemingway’s apartment was on the same street as James Joyce’s, the Rue du Cardinal Lemoine which likely facilitated their legendary drinking sprees.

img_0942

Commemorative plaque on Hemingway’s erstwhile home in Paris

Sylvia Beach, another American expatriate and owner of the original bookstore “Shakespeare and Company” published Joyce’s “Ulysses” at great financial and professional risk because no publisher was willing to touch his manuscript. Unfortunately, all these dwellings are in private hands, affording the present-day visitor only external glances. One exception is the successor to Beach’s venerable book shop. Though situated in a new location on the left bank of the Seine, it still invites the potential reader or writer to linger and interact with kindred spirits.

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

Gertrude Stein harbored her own literary aspirations and published essays, poems, novels and plays, mostly written in experimental styles. In the works I tackled, I found her stream-of-consciousness technique challenging, and threw up my arms in frustration more than once. Because of Gertrude’s presupposition that her long-term partner would never write her own life story, she composed “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” in Alice’s stead. Neither Gertrude who died in 1946, nor Alice who survived her by 21 years returned to America, but chose to be buried at the city’s largest cemetery, Père Lachaise, in the company of many with whom they had mingled in life.

img_0961

Commemorative plaque on the former home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

As my train gathers speeds through the suburbs, I am slightly wistful, can relate to the desire of never wanting to leave this fabled locale. Even so: Au revoir, Paris. Au revoir, la France . I hope to return some other time.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/paris-fast/

Merci Mes Amis

Whenever my travels take me back to Germany, a journey to France is an added bonus, in particular a journey to a hamlet near Auxerre, in Burgundy. It harbors the residence of Heike, my best friend since high school days, her husband, Pascal, and their son. Their two daughters have already fledged the nest.

The Enchanted Garden

The Enchanted Garden

A cozy nest indeed. Their remodeled farm house and barn sit on a generous plot of land, amid a grassy expanse surrounded by and dotted with diverse deciduous trees and decorative plants, and separated from the neighborhood by tall hedges. Several weeks into fall the tree crowns are braided with rusty streaks yet the canopy continues to conceal a variety of chattering birds more vocal than I expect so late in the season.

img_5939

Garden Art

Heike’s numerous flowers are fading, but a few late bloomers continue to color the landscape. After cool nights we awaken to frost in the morning. Luckily, the logs in the fireplace warm our hands and hearts.

Former stable, remodeled into a vacation cottage, available for rent

Former stable, remodeled into a vacation cottage, available for rent

Following a fortifying breakfast Heike and I set out with their dog, Loupo. His name connotes his wolfish genealogy (le loup means wolf in French) and, phonetically, fits his amusingly loopy character. A French Beauceron, theoretically a herding breed, he is less of a herder than a hunter who, in his second year of life, still struts with puppy power and keeps reminding us not only of his need of, but also his right to attention.

img_5953

Loupo

On our walks we pass the nearby dairy which supplies Heike’s family with raw milk, stroll along pastures with grazing cows, horses, and an occasional assembly of deer, and wind in and out of parcels of forest interspersed with fields of feed corn, while we watch layers of mist dissipate slowly in the rising sun.

img_6012

Morning Glory

Heike has known and supported me through many stages of life and remains my most cherished friend. We fell in love with and married our respective husbands at about the same period. In her case, Eros led her to France, me to the United States, making our reunions sadly rare, but all the more precious. My visits usually fly by. Many days I tag along with Heike during her activities, many horse-related. It is a special treat, and a revival of my adolescent horse obsession when we get to ride out together, she on her mare, I on a borrowed mount.

img_5970

Curious ponies

An excursion to Auxerre is likewise part of the program. The town which predates the Roman conquest of Gaul hovers above the picturesque valley of the Yonne River. Besides its wines, it is known for the white limestone Gothic Cathedral St. Étienne and former Benedictine abbey St. Germain whose crypt contains the oldest known frescoes in France from the ninth century, even though they were not detected until 1927.

img_6053

Cathedral St. Étienne, Auxerre

I also savor Heike’s culinary creations, with copious amounts of baguette and cheese, and benefit from Pascal’s impeccable taste in wine. Often I simply take in the serene setting of their home, or soak up the sun in the garden like their cat, Esso. I always leave in a state of peace and equanimity, nourished in body and soul.

img_6014

Esso, waiting for the sun to melt the frost on the grass

Heike and Pascal, thank you and your children for always welcoming me/us with open arms. After many years of this unidirectional traffic, it is high time you made a trip to Colorado. I only hope we can repay your kindness and hospitality.

Á bientôt!

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/merci-mes-amis/