Nature's Wild Garden 2

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Comments (12)

Ian Stehbens on February 1, 2008

This is not some domestic garden - this is the bush. Photographed in Blue Mountains National Park along Undercliff Track.

Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 2, 2008

The paved stones must then be a way to walk along through the bush. Except that I am afraid of poisonous snakes and such animals, I would enjoy it greatly. Thanks to you we can do so without any danger. :) Beautiful, Ian!

Greetings, May

Ian Stehbens on February 4, 2008

And if you were here, you would soon discover that the snakes are few and far between and go away from you were you to approach them. I would accompany you anyway, so that you could enjoy it greatly, without any danger, May. It is a safe as a Swiss bank, to wander the paths in this beautiful wild garden.



Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 4, 2008

Ian, you made me laughing, when I read about our safe Swiss banks. The UBS, one of the biggest banks got quite in trouble. ;-)

Once, in my youth I met a snake (viper) on the stony slope of a mountain in the Engadin. I think I could have won in a discipline at the olympics, the way I ran downhill like a capricorn, without stopping until I was in the village . ;-)

I mean, the snakes have certainly the same right to enjoy life as I do, it's just that I wouldn't want to meet them, if possible. With your generous promise, I wouldn't hesitate of course - not much anyway. :-) May

Ian Stehbens on February 4, 2008

May, I have just had to visit Engadin. That was a new name for me, though I know the Inn River in Austria. I have seen a little of it in Wikipedia and on GE. No wonder you were walking among the vipers - it really is another spectacular area of Switzerland.

But I thought of the Sydney southern suburb called Engadine. There you might be able to find a snake and if you did I am sure you would set off down hill, at least you might have in your youthful days. Today you know better, just trust, watch quietly and it'll go away from any danger that it fears. You can bank on it.

The promise stands. Enough of the thought of snakes. Even I have to go to a zoo to see venomous snakes.


Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 5, 2008

Ian, the Engadin in the Grisons is the most beautiful place I know of. I stayed there for half a year all in all. The upper part of the valley, where the source of the En (Inn) is, lies 1800 m above sealevel. The scenery with the blueblue lakes is breathtaking. Beautiful southern sun. Seven of the most extreme and impressing high mountain passes lead into the valley. Wonderful old houses with thick walls look like they were carved. Healthy air - it's paradise! The other side of the medal is that St. Moritz has become a place of and for tourists, especially the Jet Set tourists.

If you look from GE you as a geographer will see the fantastic difference of height, which especially the Malojapass in the West and Uppervalley and the Bernina on the South have to overcome, from the glaciers down to the palm trees. The Engadin and its beauties is surely the place I would love to show you.

Btw, I often went for a hike in the Engadin and it was the only time, I met a snake, probably it rushed off like I did. :-)


Ian Stehbens on February 5, 2008

May, you are wonderful, and a generous ambassador for one of the most majestic and colourful landscapes on our planet. I used to imagine a journey down the Rhine from its source to the sea, and that had me exploring areas in the far east of Switzeralnd on maps. Nowadays we can do that through GE and Panoramio in a way that far exceeds what was possible before. Perhaps the past required more imagination, but allowed also for more misconceptions. But I was never wide of the mark on how stunning such areas as the Engadin were.

Then along came Sound of Music and the Tirol lifted us from our theatre seats in awe.

During our 1978 travels, we saw lots of western Europe, but were not able to do a great deal in Switzerland, for we found the prices more than we could afford and as I told you during one of our weeks there, the valleys were filled with pollution from some aluminium smelters. But that meant we spent more time in the Pyrenees, which we never regretted.

So if I get the opportunity to travel in Europe again in the next few years, be assured that Emmental and Engadine as well as the Lauterbrunnen Valley will be generously photographed and explored by an awestruck but sensitive Aussie.



Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 6, 2008

Ian, it is fantastic to travel around by Google Earth! I'd so much like to show you the beauties of nature here and the fantastic constructios of bridges in the mountains, if not in real, than by the satellite pictures in telling you what worth seeing may be where to find. Probably the misconceptions still exist. The Sound of Music doesn't actually represent the Alpine regions and people of what they really are like. It rather represents what people abroad think it is like in those regions. It's all too sweet and sentimental. It makes us smile mildly, when tourists from overseas expect all of us to yodel and to dance the Polka in wooden shoes, dirndls and leather trousers and to live in places like seen in the film.

It saddens my heart what you write about your little Swiss experience. It's just an example of a bad perception of one or a few days, which has formed your image of Switzerland. In the lower region of the Wallis are the Alu-works. It must have been a very bad constellation of air pressure that day, which concentrated and kept the fumes in the Rhone valley, so that you got this impression. We are in the heart of Europe, in the Ticino we get all the smog of the metropole Milano and when the North-East wind blows, we get the haze and dust of the countries in the Northeast. And besides the very heavy traffic from North to South. However, it's not valleys as you say, that are polluted, but it was just in the lower region of the one Rhone valley.

Switzerland is actually known as an example of having strong pollution regulations and the accepted limits to Ozon for instance are much stronger than in the EU, though I think, we as well as all the world's community should do more. We work hard for this aim, for example the construction of the longest tunnel in the world, in order to put all the traffic for goods on the train through the mountains.

The prices in Switzerland are really lower than in the UK and Ireland for years now. - Btw., the Canton of Wallis has the most beautiful, clean and sunny side valleys and the Rhone valley in the higher region is very beautiful with clean air. Have a look at Norbert Burgener's page, if you are interested. You find him in my favourites, he lives in the Wallis and he has many beautiful photos of the scenery of his canton. I have only a few from the Engadin, a region, which can't be compared to anything in any other Alpine regions, except maybe to some other high situated places in Switzerland. I have only one photo uploaded by now, done with my old digital camera, many others I have, are done with my good old analogue Canon.

Many greetings, May

Ian Stehbens on February 6, 2008

Dear May,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and encouraging me to put aside the memories of that week in Switzerland 30 years ago. Let me assure you that neither the smelter nor the affordability have created a negative perception or misconception of Switzerland, for us. While they were both realities then, I understand the bigger picture in terms of time, geography and of weather. Another aspect that may help you to understand our little experience was that we were in a campervan and the high country wasn't particularly suitable for me to take our vehicle up the more narrow or steep roads, so I was content to stay on the more major roads, and in the valleys rather than up on the alps or even to the mountains. It was also rather early in the season for tourists and most of the caravan/camping parks were not yet open. We were the very first and only guests at Aosta, for example. Later that year we revisited Switzerland, and had the clearest of weather. That time we were on the Rhine side of Switzerland...and loved every moment, again.

A photo taken high up the road after entering from Aosta has been posted, and two taken in Lausanne also: each of them from our first visit. (I have real difficulty in geo-locating them, now. But maybe someone will correct them for me.)

As I said when posting some of the 1978 pictures taken in Spain, I hesitated to put them up, not only as it was 30 years ago, but because I was a mere tourist that spent say a week or so in the country. The truth is that we loved Switzerland before we arrived, more so after having been there on that visit and subsequent visits, and am truthfully in awe of its magnificent landscapes. And your images are just marvellous revelations of place, people and culture.

One of the issues facing Switzerland in regard to pollution is similar in some respects to that which Singapore and Korea face, for example. Singapore has to deal with the burning of forests in Sumatra, and Korea sits on the eastern edge of not only the industrial NE of China, but the whole of the winter monsoonal system of Asia.

It is good to have the referral to Norbert Burgener's gallery, and I will certainly find time to explore it, with delight.

There really is much we could chat about. Thank you for your indepth sharing.



Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 8, 2008

Thank you for your answer, Ian! I am sure we will gradually find insight in the life of people living in the places we discover across the photos and descriptions. Maybe we even get a closer look like that as if we went there as tourists and live in hotels or camping sites. I haven't been in so many places as you have, but I always tried to share with people their everyday life. I am happy to know you and Palmina and to learn, how people live in the places of Australia, where you live. I get to see all I can through GE and documentary films.

I wouldn't compare Switzerland to the places you did concerning pollution. I would never blame other countries, since we do our share just as much. I only wanted to show you the geographical situation, which on the other hand presents us with the best air up in the higher regions and very nice water. I think pollution is a matter which concerns the whole globe and I do wish, ALL governments would finally do their share to cope with it. It's a shame that everybody points at India and maybe China, where the pollution gets very bad and even worse if they attempt the same luxury as we do. Considered per person, they are still far from using energy as much as all first-world-countries do (what an impossible term, which shows the arrogance of our civilization).

Switzerland is so very small indeed, we are never very far from any of our neighbours. We are on good terms with them, though we don't belong to the EU, owing to our democratic system, which allows the people to take decisions, which the government is carrying out.

Ian, I am happy to know you and to exchange thoughts with you.

Greetings, May

Ian Stehbens on February 9, 2008

Again, May, it has been very special to read your thoughts. There is 100% concurrence from me.

In regard to First World: Third World, and similarly for North:South, I think we will soon find that those concepts will be quickly forgotten as for the Iron Curtain:Bamboo Curtain language. I say this for the emergence of both China and India as economic super-powers is and will change the way the world sees itself.

As you recognize the excellent relationships between your country and all its neighbours, I seek to contribute to the same in our region, but at the moment the inequities between countries here makes that quite difficult to achieve.

I not only love your photography and your country but also your ideas and conversations.

What a special conversation we have had while walking a pathway among the ferns.

Thanks so much.


Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 9, 2008

Yes, I do agree in all points about China and India, Ian. Regarding the inequities between countries and for that matter between people in the same country, that's a worldwide problem, I think and it will become more so in the future.

Europe is like a family and the problems are similar as with siblings. Everybody tries to get the bigger piece of cake, but at the same time, people know, that they depend on each other, if peace shall remain.

Yes, I love the conversations as well with you, so after the fern we may walk on a hiking trail in the alps and continue. :-)

Greetings, May

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on February 1, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens