Windows

On a recent hike in the canton of Jura, Switzerland, we ended in the town of St. Ursanne, a medieval walled-in town with a 12 century church.  This unique area is considered the Jewel of the Jura, and a quick visit, it is easy to see why.  Fascinating architecture, set in the midst of the Jura white stone mountains, is almost a step back in time.  Below are the windows of the cloister next to the church.

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This post is part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

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Women Who Hike – Trek 2

“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” – Unknown

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Under a looming gray sky, six ladies piled into a mini van and drove to the gorgeous Appenzell area.   We eagerly anticipated a weekend of hiking, conversing, and escaping, because let’s face it; moms need to escape every once in awhile! Amen to that!

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Despite some rain and less than balmy temps, we hiked up mountains all of Saturday, finally reaching our destination (Schäfler Berghaus). This remarkable Berghaus is perched perfectly on the top of a hill (no small feat), making it the ideal oasis as the temperatures fell and night casted a shadow upon us.

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We piled in the warmth of the house, peeled off our wet clothes, hung them to dry, checked out our cozy room, put warm clothes on and headed downstairs for drinks, and dinner. Hovering cozily next to a glowing heater, we spent hours wrapped around a table chatting and feeling the joy of being removed from our normal routines.

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The next morning, with bleary eyes, we threw open the shutters only to welcome our first snowfall of the season. With fluffy white flakes making their decent on the earth, we smiled in delight, and pushed away our concerns over having to hike back down the mountain in snow.  Adventure awaits we smiled and pressed on!

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After two days of hiking, eating and bonding, it was time to return home. Six ladies once again crammed back into the car, music softly playing in the background, and silence fell upon us as our bodies melted into the warmth and the comfort of the cars’ seats. We toggled between the sound of silence, and frenzied chatter, wanting to fit in all of our thoughts prior to reaching our final destination.

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As the dusty green hills rolled on in front of us, I felt a surge of happiness. Content that I achieved what I had silently set out to do;  share camaraderie on trails with a group of women that inspire each other through their own stories, their unique lives and their genuine ambition.

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48 hours perfectly spent!

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Interested in continuing the adventure?  Everyone is welcome!  A day hike is in the works, so stay tuned for more details.  My hope is that in late October we will take a day trip to the Jura.

Thought of the Day

Inspired by a gorgeous banner hanging in a tiny Berghaus situated on the edge of a mountain, I share this thought provoking quote from the Dalai Lama XIV with you.  A perfect reminder during this transitioning of seasons.

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“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

Glaciers Will Break Your Heart

“The glacier is the tremendous climate indicator showing the global effect of diverse factors over decades and balancing simultaneously accumulation and ablation over years and decades. In cold and wet years the glacier stores hundreds of million cubic meters of water in the form of ice and feeds our rivers in warm and dry periods with it.” – Albert Hein, 1916

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Standing at the base of the Rhone Glacier, I grasped my children tightly in my arms. The narrative in my mind was swirling, grateful that the glacier still existed to show my children before its demise, saddened at the clear evidence the human footprint has had and continues to have on our landscape.  The power of the glacier’s retreat was felt and the glacier proved to be a visual representation of what our consumption and production were and are doing to our planet.  “My God, what are we doing?”

Alestch Glacier, Bettmeralp, More2Explore, More 2 Explore, Glaciers, Swiss Alps

White sheets draped over the ice-providing make – shift protection, were hardly working. The scientists dedicated to the glacier are making every attempt to preserve what is left, their efforts admirable, the feat enormous.

Why are glaciers retreating at such rapid rates? Great question and one I have asked myself especially after witnessing their retreat this past summer on more than one occassion . Some scientists contribute the change to the Industrial Revolution which started in 1760 in Great Britain . Moving away from human created resources, we quickly moved to the use of machines to produce faster, quicker and more goods than before.  While the Industrial Revolution was responsible for the increase in the quality of life for many, the long – term environmental impacts due to heavy reliance on petroleum, coal, and chemicals, all contribute(d) to the degradation of our planet in ways we are only now beginning to understand.

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Perhaps all those that deny climate change, are those that don’t spend adequate time outside. For those that do walk in the mountains, touch the rivers, and walk the shores of any ocean, are able to grasp how our world is changing. For if you stand at the base of a glacier and witness first – hand the ice retreating, the visible line along the mountain of what used to be, it is not hard to understand that we are in a period of grave change.

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Switzerland’s landscape is rich with glaciers, 43 to be exact, with the Aletsch Glacier being the largest of them all. To see how these glaciers are retreating first hand, visit one of the glaciers and learn more. The Aletsch Glacier offers a great deal of helpful information regarding the history of the glacier and the future of where the glacier is headed. The Alpmuseum at Hohfluh located at the top of the lift is free of charge and offers tremendous insight on the past, present and future of glaciers.

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“Plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest.” – Plastic Coalition        

 Another thing to consider aside from the tragedy of melting glaciers, is the amount of plastic made, consumed and discarded in our world. According the Roland Geyer, an industrial ecologist based out of UCSB, “Virtually all of the plastic we ever made is non-degradable.” Exactly how much plastic has been produced since its inception? We, as humans have produced over, “Eight point three billion metric tons of plastics produced so far.” Plastic is polluting our oceans and water sources, killing our birds and destroying our environment. Not only is plastic in our environment, but it is also showing up in our bodies.  We must ask ourselves if we can sustain this way of life and when the answer arrives, we then must be willing to make  drastic shifts in our choices and ultimately our behavior.

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What can be done?

  • Say no to plastic water bottles and instead bring your own refillable bottle.
  • Do your best to avoid plastic all together. Be creative and demand better solutions. When a company is doing the right thing in the way of creating less pollution, thank them for their efforts.
  • San Francisco has banned Styrofoam, and the rest of the world should too.
  • Bring your own bags and reject the use of plastic bags.
  • Teach your children the value of enjoying experiences over things. By educating the next generation, hopefully we teach individuals that happiness can never be bought and that excess consumerism wreaks havoc on our planet.
  • Take your children outside and into nature. Let them witness the seasons, take care of the landscape and become advocates for the Earth.
  • Support companies that are doing their best to make an environmental shift, one such company is Patagonia.  Their mission statement seems to say it all.  “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”  Oh, and one more thing, if you want to define a hero, check out Yvon Chouinard, what an incredible inspiration.
  • Purchase used clothes and items, which keeps perfectly good items out of the trash and preserves the environment by not having to use the Earth’s resources for items we don’t need.
  • Take the time to think about what you purchase, what you actually need, where your stuff is made and where it will ultimately end up. Say no to shopping as a past time activity.
  • Take public transportation and if you reside in Switzerland, that choice is very, very easy to make.  Just ask us, we have been car free for 10 years!

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I realize I have only touched the surface of environmental pollution, however, now that I am educating, raising and ultimately turning over the next generation of people to the planet, I feel compelled to share and hopefully inspire others to make a small difference. I am not claiming to be perfect or even plastic free, but I am trying to be more aware. Aware of my choices, the items I bring into our home and into the lives of the people I love the most.

2017-07-02-Swdal_235To continue the education, I have listed some helpful resources below. View, listen and read at your leisure, but let’s all commit to making one small change that can benefit the future of our planet and the lives of us as human beings.

“Health to the ocean means health to us.” -Sylvia Earle

Listen to a podcast with Jack Johnson:

Outside Podcast

Watch a short film:

Plastic Oceans

Pollution in the Maldives

Plastic Pollution

Read a book:

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

“All About Glaciers.” National Snow and Ice Data Center. Accessed 1 February 2016. https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/glaciers.

Plastic Free Life

Oh, and if you love shell fish, consider the food that shows up on your plate.

Let’s continue the dialogue!

 

 

Römerfest MMXVII (2017)

The annual Römerfest takes place in the town of Augst, Switzerland every August.  A short 20 minute bus ride from Basel will get you to the town of Augst, a modern town built on the roman ruins of Augusta Raurica, the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine river.  Römerfest, is a two day event which provides visitors with much to see and do including family chariot races, concerts, dancing, crafts, war training, history and archeology, and gladiator fights.  It is certainly an interesting event to witness, and if you have ever read the cartoons Asterix and Obelix, then you may find yourself naming the many participants.  A bit of fun in the captions below.  If you are in the Basel area in August, be sure to make your way to this event!