Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life's Journey

off the western coast of La Réunion, France

I think life's journey is less about discovering new shores
and more about finding our way home.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blooming Friday

a cluster of elderberry flowers

These are the flowers of an elderberry. The color and shape of the cluster blooms remind me of lace. They look so fragile and pure, daintily suspended from a willowy branch. No wonder the plant is believed to be guarded by an old lady or a witch. Its fair beauty can tempt anyone in to picking them, or even cut down a branch and plant it in his garden, so a forbidding protector should stand sentry… like Rapunzel in a dauntingly high tower that is only accessible to her witch guardian.

So if anyone wants to pick a flower or cut the wood or even a twig, one has to ask first the elder mother (as the guardian is known to be called). But it’s worth asking for because carrying a twig or hanging some of them in your house can ward off evil or misfortune. It’s supposed to be a lucky charm and a good remedy for some illnesses like toothache or rheumatism… unless you anger the Elder Mother by cutting part of the plant without permission.

And on midsummer’s eve, it is believed that by standing under it, you’ll see the Elf-king
. Too bad, I didn’t know about this until recently. Maybe next year, I’ll try it. Who knows, I might just see one of the many enchanted creatures we hear of *winks*. But I’ll ask their permission first before doing it. I don’t want to displease them by “coming” uninvited. No one likes having an unwelcome guest, magical creature or not *smiles*.

Here’s wishing everyone an enchanting weekend!

source of folklore: wikipedia
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crickety Dickety Dock

crickety-dickety-dock, look at what we' ve got :)...

I found a cricket in our garden (at least, I think it is). It’s supposed to bring good luck (just like cri-kee in Mulan), so maybe in the coming days, we’ll have some good fortune coming our way *winks*. Hey, it wouldn’t hurt to think positive, right?

Come to think of it, maybe this is Jiminy Cricket (in the story of Pinocchio) or one of his cousins. And maybe it can show me the way to the Blue Fairy. Or might even bring the Blue Fairy to me! That would be grand! In that case, I’ll have to try being a good little girl so my wish will be granted!

And if I don’t see the Blue Fairy, I’ll just whisper it to our garden cricket. And I’ll wish upon a star for added measure *smiles*.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

one of the tunnels on the way to Cirque de Cilaos, La Réunion, France

an expression of the gothic in me *winks*

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The Heat Is On

coconut trees on the beach of Grand Anse, La Réunion, France

Summer is here! And whenever I think of it, I imagine coconut/palm trees, white sandy beach and of course, an azure blue sea with the foam tickling my feet. I crave the feeling of the warm sunbeams on my face and back. And I don’t mind if the air seems still, unless the sun is really, really hot. Still, I prefer the cooling effect of water on the back of my neck than a passing cold draft. But then, maybe if the air seemed heavy and humid with a sizzling hot sun, I’ll opt for a fresh mountain breeze.

Well, it maybe summer here in the northern hemisphere, but it is the cold season below the equator. And in the island of La Réunion, winter mornings can be a bit nippy, especially in the mountains, but is a good period to do hikes as the rainy season is over. Well, there would still be the occasional rain showers in some areas as there are many microclimates in the island (we actually hiked under a heavy rain on one or two occasions), but in general, it is great time to discover where the trails lead to.

And the temperature by mid-morning there is actually like summer in our area here (actually, it feels a lot warmer if you add the humidity factor), so even if it’s winter in La reunion, I actually felt like I’m having summer holidays… especially with the lush mountains, the rushing blue sea and the balmy weather *winks*.

the strong waves can take your breath away, literally and figuratively *winks*

And speaking of weather, I hope the summer temperature here would hold up for the whole duration of the season. For the past few years, our summer was usually cut short by the early coming of the cold wet November-like weather. Maybe this time, it's going to be different *cross fingers*.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blooming Friday

a rose in our garden in bloom

For today’s entry I chose a rose from our garden. I don’t know its name and the flowers don’t have any scent, but it is one of the first roses we have which bloom early. And I think it prefers the mild warmth of late spring and early autumn because come summer time, it doesn’t give us any flowers. And so these are the last for this season.

the center of the rose with its whorl of pistils

I wish everybody a sun-filled weekend. Tomorrow is the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere) and summer is officially here!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Mare à Jonc in the town of Cilaos, La Réunion

This the town of Cilaos by Mare à Jonc (the name of the pond/ small lake) in La Réunion. The view is very relaxing, especially after the long sinuous drive (with a number of hair-raising blind curves) to reach the town.

the view on the left of the house overlooking the small lake

a closer look of the house by the lake with the mountains as a backdrop

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Down The Rabbit Hole

a short flight of wooden stairs along the trail of Gol ravine (Tevelave, La Réunion, France)

So where do I start with my stories about our holidays? Well, I guess the question is more about sharing photos rather than an account of what we did. But, of course, the pictures would be more appealing if accompanied by short anecdotes or captions. Well, I’ll try my best to at least give a short description and I’ll let the photos do the rest. I just hope they give justice to the beauty of the places we’ve seen.

young frond of a tree fern (called fanjan of the family Cyatheaceae)

I’ll begin with photos taken during our first short hike. It was in the Tevelave forest that extends from around 1500m to 2000m above sea level in the western part of La Réunion. There are many hiking trails in the area but we chose the trail of Gol ravine (sentier de la ravine du Gol) which leads to a view point of the village of Les Makes.

lichens growing on trees

One of the main floras in Tevelave is the tamarind trees. They are quite adapted to many of the forest areas here as they can survive cyclones and fire (which could happen when Piton la Fournaise, the active volcano of the island, erupts). Their survival is due to tamarind seeds capacity to germinate even after a long period of time and the flexibility of its limbs that prevents the trees from being uprooted / broken by strong wind and cyclones. Then, of course, there other curious-looking plants (and animals) endemic to the island that makes the area quite interesting for animal and plant lovers alike.

as the mist covers the forest

It was a wonderful hike as it was rendered cool by the towering trees that seem to form a natural arch, protecting one from the harsh sunrays. And because of its altitude, it is periodically covered in mist which brings an eerie atmosphere to the already mystical forest. I was thinking it won’t come as a surprise if one sees small winged fairies or elves peeping out from the thick foliage. And that would make the hike even more enchanting *winks.*

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blooming Friday

little yellow flowers of a tree in our yard

These are the yellow flowers of a tree in our garden. I don't know the name of this tree (we "inherited" it from the previous owner of the house) but it's golden yellow flowers are a delight to see (hmmm... this sentence has a good rhyme to it... maybe i should try to make a poem out of it *winks*).

when the flowers turn into seedpods

When these flowers are pollinated (bees love them), they give us these seedpods that usually burst when they turn brown. And right now, we both have seedpods and flowers that sway gaily with a passing breeze and scintillate when they catch sunbeams.

And speaking of sunbeams, i wish everybody a nice sunny weekend. A week from now, it will be the June solstice and summer will be in full swing in our part of the hemisphere *smiles*.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

waves after a strong rain in Grande Anse (between St. Pierre and St. Joseph), La Réunion

And then, the unspeakable purity and freshness of the air!
There was just enough heat to enhance the value of the breeze,
and just enough wind to keep the whole sea in motion,
to make the waves come bounding to the shore,
foaming and sparkling, as if wild with glee.

- from Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
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Friday, June 5, 2009

Blooming Friday

bougainvillea in La Reunion, France

Here are some photos of a bougainvillea taken in La Reunion Island. How I would love to grow them, but since they require a lot of sun and we don’t have a greenhouse, I just have to content myself with looking at them when visiting places with a warm climate or in botanical parks.

The gay colors of their flowers (white, red, orange, yellow, etc) reflect the high-spirit of tourists on vacation… especially on a lush, breezy place by the sea. And speaking of flowers, I didn’t know that the real flowers of a bougainvillea are the three, tiny, generally white flowers in the center. The “petals” around it are actually bracts --- specialized leaf to attract pollinators. Well, they are certainly fulfilling their function quite well!

And to those living in a temperate climate, having them on your walls and trellises will not only attract bees and butterflies but will also lend a tropical air to your surroundings... even for only a few months *smiles*.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where Art Thou?

terrace of the place where we stayed with its wonderful view of the village on the foothills

Whew! It’s been a while since I updated this blog… and even more when it comes to visiting my fellow bloggers. Well, with the 3 long weekends we’ve had last month (May 1- Labor day; May 8 –WWII Victory Day; May 21 Ascension Day) and the summer-like weather, we tried to make the most of it by spending time outdoors… and going on holidays! We generally take our vacation in either May or early autumn to avoid the throng of tourists and the high prices of everything related to "holidays" during summer and other peak seasons. Plus, the weather is usually better --- not too hot, not too cold, not to mention the changing hues of plants (I prefer “spring” green rather than “summer” green and the first burst of summer bloom… and of course, autumn colors are very picturesque!)

a circa 1900 map of La Reunion from the Domaine du Grand Hazier, St. Suzanne, La Reunion

And since we’ve reached an important milestone in our life together, we decided to take our holidays in La Reunion, an overseas department of France between Madagascar and Mauritius. This island has left a big impression on me because aside from being beautiful, this is where my husband asked my hand for marriage years ago. So, we have wonderful memories of this place. And we thought it’s quite appropriate to celebrate one of our most (actually it's three) meaningful events in our life together. So, for the second time around, we visited this marvelous region – with towering mountains inland, bordered by the great blue sea and the remarkable Piton la Fournaise (an active volcano) which seems endlessly trying to connect the land and the sea with its lava flow whenever it wakes up from its short slumber.

village of Grand Ilet, Cirque de Salazie, La Reunion

I’ll be posting more entries and pictures later… and of course catching up with what’s new with my fellow bloggers. I just want to say “coucou” (hello) after several weeks of hiatus. Holidays are great, but they always end. And there are a lot of things to do BEFORE (hence, no update in my blog) and AFTER a vacation. So, I might not seem visible even if we are back here but rest assured I’ll be visiting your sites soon. And of course, I’ll try my best to put this blog "back on track" *cross fingers*.

when the sky meets the sea