Winter delights

I’m not really much of a winter person, but there are always a few things to which I look forward when the snow starts dusting the mountains, as it did for the first time this week. Over the weekend we had a local fromage favorite which, although it is neither champagne nor whisky, goes with…

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Night Blossoms

  The Night-blooming Orchid (Bulbophyllus nocturnum) was chosen as one of the International Institute for Species Exploration Top Ten New Species 2012, one year ago this week. Bulbophyllus nocturnum, I thank you. Not for being the only known orchid species to blossom only at night, even though being so unique among the other 25,000 orchid…

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Expat Thanksgiving – Update

We spent a wonderful expat Saturday Thanksgiving with friends in London. I managed to find fragrant, delicious squash ideally suited for pumpkin pie (Crown Prince variety, for the intrepid squash pie experimenters among you), our host concocted remarkable gin cocktails (garnished with fresh cranberries, of course) with a cranberry syrup reduction made from our cranberry…

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Thank you, flying shell creatures

The pteropod Limacina helicina, a tiny sea animal that is usually under 1 cm in length, swims through the open ocean. They are a food source for birds, whales, fish, and other sea animals only slightly larger than themselves. They feed on plankton and float in large colonies, flapping their wing-like lobes. They have fragile,…

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Cider season, old-school style

My neighbor is pressing cider this week, hauling in dozens of wooden crates filled with apples from his orchards. He uses this press now, a smallish unit which is modern but still pumped by hand. He’s a huge supporter of traditional knowledge and farming practices, and takes the press around to local schools so the…

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Expat Thanksgiving

One of the things I miss most about the United States is the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s always been my favorite. No gifts, no costumes, no obligation except to spend time with family and friends, and share thanks for what we have. Expat Americans tend to feel the magnetic pull of fellow countrypeople around this time,…

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Bottles of Bubbly

Champagne & port tasting in the Pays-de-Gex, just outside Geneva: Standing in a group of people consisting of an American, a Swede, a Dane, two Brits and a German, discussing French products in French with a Portuguese port representative. Fairly typical, I’d say. The only people who didn’t really speak any English were the very…

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