Inadvertent Sabotage

Not long ago, a news story went around the world about a weasel that shut down CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, forcing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to go offline for a few days. As it turns out, it was actually a beech marten (Martes foina), a cousin of the weasel. The animal…

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Pleasant Perspectives (Mostly)

I picked my first garden bouquet for the office vase. It’s the only flower vase in the house due to a flower-unfriendly feline, although at this point she’s getting too old to get at the highest shelves, so maybe we can allow a few more vases this year. Forget-me-nots and rosemary in bloom, two of…

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Soft Palette Distraction

I was hustling to get a run in before nightfall – my usual loop has a couple of kilometers that are uneven farm track, stony and rutted, perfect for the occasional sprained ankle due to inattentiveness. So I run, eyes on the rutted road just a few strides ahead, avoiding the rocks and grooves misplaced…

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Gumdrop Moon

Different cultures have different names for the full moons of the year, and January’s is called anything from Wolf Moon to Snow Moon to Winter Moon to Moon of the Terrible. But the moon that rose over Lake Geneva last night, caught here as we drove across Mont Blanc Bridge, was nothing so fearsome as…

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Speaking the Language

I went to bed late last night, it was easily midnight or beyond, and as I lay there on the edge of sleep, I heard an unaccustomed sound. It sounded like…birdsong. I listened closely. It was, indeed, birdsong. And not just little chirps or the otherworldly radar sounds of an owl. There were two birds,…

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Field Clocks

There’s something reassuring in the routine of sowing and harvest. It’s not just the crucial aspect of food security. It’s one way we, as humans, keep time. A vast clock that we make every year anew. It’s blazing hot here, and as I wrote yesterday, the local farmers are using the heatwave to cut, dry…

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Shady Ladies and Elderflower Cordial

A small herd of new cattle appeared along my running path a few weeks ago, several cows and a single bull. All of them have thick, dark red hair that tufts up in waves like a field of wheat in the wind. And within a short time, there were small calves. They graze in a…

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The Spoils of the Day

Sometimes the constant presence of natural beauty can lead to a certain forgetfulness of the visual bounty all around. We’ve lived near Lake Geneva for a long time, and while I revel in the views of mountain and lake, I don’t always appreciate just how lovely the area can be. Fortunately, friend, writer and local…

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A Few Beginnings and a Couple of Ends

The weather turned cold this week, grey skies and a chill wind after two weeks of balmy temperatures. Two steps forward, one step back. No excuse not to get some garden work done, though. Last week was all bumblebees and sunshine, this week I found this fellow, a little black cricket, taking shelter from the…

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The Urge to Affiliate

I was out on a run yesterday, my usual loop, when I found this piece of tree bark lying across the path. Here along the border between France and Switzerland, we’re in the midst of a bise blanche, a fierce wind that blows down through the Geneva basin from the north. A bise blanche weather…

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