The Secret Gardener (for Miss S.)

I have a friend who has the loveliest garden. A simple allotment garden, it fills itself each Spring and Summer with flowers and provides delicious fruit and vegetables for their table along with a satisfying sense of accomplishment. What makes it even lovelier, is to think of what it looked like several years ago when she first started out; tangled weeds waist-high, rock-hard soil and bolted vegetables running riot. Through perserverence, patience, planting and inspired hard work, the garden has now been transformed into something really special. There is nothing better for the soul than digging outside in the sunshine, getting one’s hands into the soil. I love being there!

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I was thinking of this friend (and wishing she was here to see this!) on Friday when I was out walking through a historic part of Jerusalem. Finding a street-side flower bed, I was taking pictures when the owner of the house came out and looked at what I was doing. I complimented him on his flowers and he said, “if you want to see some really special flowers, you must see my garden.” Inviting me inside the gate, I found a whole new, secret world behind the high stone walls surrounding the house. The flowers were magnificent and the passion and effort that has gone into making this spectacular oasis in the middle of the city was astounding.

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…just one more page???…

Jerusalem is in the middle of replacing its older bus shelters with a new modern design; complete with LED arrival boards and more comfortable benches. These new urban street furnishings are a welcome addition to a thriving city where the ancint meets the old, the old meets the new.

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But what do you do with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of old bus shelters and benches?

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Turn them into community reading stations! At the end of the street where I am staying, (by the old train tracks that have been skillfully ‘upcycled’ into walking paths), there is a new addition since my last visit. Two old bus shelters, complete with benches, have appeared and are now filled with books! Local residents are free to donate or take any books they like and there are benches to sit and peruse new treasures. Volunteers from nearby tidy up and check on the book stations daily.

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There are people there all the time; looking for books, driving up to drop off boxes of books and sitting with friends with a cup of coffee. Genres run the gamut from cookbooks to crime thrillers, art albums to childrens storybooks printed in a world of languages; English, Hebrew, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, German… and even Japanese!

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Love it!  So far, I’ve picked up quite a few new titles to schlepp back in my suitcase! Maybe this is an idea you can use to start a reading station in your community??

By the way, I am trying something new in this post – adding a slideshow.  Please let me know how you like this feature in a photo blog (or is it better just to display all of the photos “gallery” style??).

How I feel today…

Photography has a powerful influence in my life and thinking – it helps my confidence and self-esteem to grow, allows me to explore my thoughts and relationships to the places where I live and the people I know, and provokes me to challenge the conceptions and opinions I hold in new and bolder ways. My camera can be a mask, a magnifiying glass to society or a window on the the world.

Lately, with the sudden and unexpected loss of several very special people in my life, including my father, my camera has been a valuable tool for exploring my emotions and feelings in ways that words cannot. This capture happened quite by accident and I didn’t even notice it until I downloaded some old photos. It captures the way I am feeling lately. Each time I look at it, I can see myself as each of the ‘characters’; am I the one needing support and feeling alone or the one walking away, so lost in their own thoughts that they can’t notice someone else’s needs?

There is a lot of grainy ‘noise’ in this photo and I think that it is symbolic of the formless, grey ‘noise’ that can fill our thoughts and hearts in times of saddness and loss. It think I will keep it in this one.

….oh and by the way, it is a beautiful, sunny, warm day today – I think it is time to get out into the light now and find some happy things to capture this morning!

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Wanderweg in Wengen

One of the great delights in Switzerland is being able to take a cog railway up to the top of the mountains. Two hours out of the city and suddenly you are transported to a completely different world; one full of magic, breathtaking views and time to wonder….oh, and the strangest UFO-looking clouds I have ever seen!

Wengen is a beautiful car-less village, favoured for decades by the British and full of skiiers and holiday-makers. A few minutes walk outside the village, past the sport shops and cafes favouring tourists, takes you up to alpine meadows, barns full of mooing cows and wooden mountain huts reminiscent of Heidi.

I guess it would be difficult not to take a memorable capture in such a photogenic landscape, so I am cheating a bit today. But now that the snow is long-gone from the cities, the mountain snow is a refreshing reminder that it is still early-ish Spring.