The Marks We Leave

In keeping with this year’s trend of hot weather and no rain, October in our neck of the woods is, well, hot and dry. The lawn has the consistency of shredded wheat, and a pair of Eurasian magpies has been busily digging it up for insects. I’m still watering plants to help them stay alive…

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Dry Run

Just when I thought autumn had finally arrived with a two-day rainstorm, the winds changed and summer is back. It’s as dry as ever, and no end in sight. In keeping with this year’s extreme weather, I noticed something different on my running loop. Earlier this year, after a wet spring, a local meadow was…

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Dried Acorns and Mirabelle Vodka

Of all the things dropping to the ground this summer, rain was particularly scarce. The area of eastern France where we live is always hot in August. This year, though, after a rainy spring, June started heating up. And then July was hotter. As hot as August, but weeks early. The minimal amounts of rain…

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Making The Rounds

People ask me how I don’t get bored running the same loop after over twenty years. Out the door, up the road that leads out of the village towards the Jura mountains, past the little ch√Ęteau and then up through the fields that skirt the French border to Switzerland. The loop is a little over…

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After The Rain, Before The Storm

The nightly storms that send rain pelting down upon our humble home and illuminate the sky with lightning are impressive. More surprising though, is waking up every morning to blue skies. It’s not that we aren’t used to wild weather here in the Lake Geneva region; when you live between two mountain ranges, you expect…

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Tough Puffs

Dandelions are one of those plants that people love to hate. They’re tenacious, perennial, copious; their tap roots run deep and even cut blossoms will still turn to seed heads if they aren’t culled early enough. Their leaves spread flat and wide, smothering anything beneath. If we didn’t hate them, we’d love them for their…

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Spring Pops

The past 48 hours or so have brought about several changes. Most of them I expected. One of them I didn’t. First, the mirabelle plum tree in the garden. In just the space of less than two days, it went from this: To this: And someone must have told the bees, because the entire tree…

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Long Shadows, Long Light

We’ve had a break from all the clouds, torrential rain, intermittent hail and nights of snow – so I went for a run. At this time of the year, the sun is low at 4:30 in the afternoon and sets only 20 minutes later. It casts long, reaching shadows from its last point of illumination…

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Swift Moment

A cloudless evening and the shrill cries of a small group of European swifts on an evening hunt for insects. A summer concert told in sharp notes. The swift has a wide range and enough numbers to be merit a population status of Least Concern from the IUCN. Considering the slow but persistent declines in…

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Summer Field Moment

I was out running yesterday and there was a cushion of sound, a papery hum, that accompanied me for a long stretch. At first I thought it was the standard ambient noise of my run: a bit of mountain wind, shards of birdsong, maybe an underlying rush of water from the creek in the middle…

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