Views of Carpenter Lake

Fall impressions of Carpenter Lake captured from a viewpoint near Pearson Ridge in Gold Bridge, BC, Canada. With a length of 50 km and width of 1 km, this artificial lake is the largest of the three reservoirs of the Bridge River Power Project, the two others being Downton Lake and Seton Lake.

The colossal reservoir quickly fills up in the spring as glaciers melt and then empties from Continue reading

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Audubon’s Artistic Vision

Book cover for Audubon's Birds of America

Book cover for Audubon’s Birds of America

Update March 6, 2015

If you are in New York City, do not miss Audubon’s Aviary: The Final Flight, an exhibition of Audubon’s splendid water colors organized by the New York Historical Society from March 6, 2015 to May 10, 2015.

More information on the museum’s website and an interesting article from the New York Times.


In 1820, John James Audubon (1785-1851) challenged himself to sketch and describe all North American avifauna, thus fully embracing his genuine, lifelong passion for birds. The result of a decade spent exploring the wild west was an impressive collection of 435 life-size plates of the various bird species encountered by the self-taught, Franco-American artist and naturalist. His genius has been to give a dynamic representation of living creatures rather than depicting them in a more static, lifeless posture, which was common usage at the time. Audubon’s original concept was rejected by many, and it is in England, not the United-States, that he found positive reception for his unconventional drawings which were eventually published in a book called Birds of America.

His artwork continues to be considered a masterpiece as proven by the considerable auction prices Continue reading

The dull life of circus elephants

Elephants

The Carl Busch Circus and its two elephants. Credit: Yalakom

The Carl Busch Circus, an old travelling circus created in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1891, was giving representations in my town this past week-end. A show was ongoing when I walked along the parking lot where the troup had temporarily settled. In the distance, I could see horses, ponies and camels waiting with their handlers at the back entrance of the white and blue tent. A few meters away, two elephants were standing in a small enclosure built from scratch on the concrete ground.

I had not seen elephants in a very long time, which after all is normal for someone who resides in Europe and keeps away from zoos. My previous and only encounter with these majestic mammals had happened in my childhood and made a profound impression on me. But instead of excitement, yesterday’s sightings gave me the blues.  Continue reading

A first-time exploration of the Mercantour from the town of Roubion (French Alps)

Mercantour - Roubion and surroundings

The Mercantour (core and peripheral area). The area discussed in the present article is contained in the black square.

Created in 1979, the Parc National du Mercantour boasts a unique mixture of nature and culture on its 685 sq km alpine territory made up of six distinctive valleys dominated by mountain tops over 3,000 m. Though omniscient and diverse, the local wilderness has long coexisted with men whose early presence in the area is attested by the scattered remnants of former human activities (rock engravings, chapels, defensive fortifications ruins, military blockhaus, old sheep/cow pens…) and a multitude of hamlets remarkably erected on the steepest slopes of the park’s buffer zone (1,465 sq km). Built in a stair-like fashion amid the lush vegetation, the traditional rock houses give the impression of having literally grown out of the mountain stone. Visitors shall feel amazed at the sighting of such surreal constructions and a little frightened when accessing some of these unconventional dwellings via curvy one-lane roads.

Roubion

View from the end of the road leading to Roubion. Credit: Yalakom

An archetype of such picturesque villages is Roubion. Perched at an altitude of 1,336 m in the Vallée de la Tinée, this charming medieval town of 125 inhabitants makes for an ideal base for those wishing to explore the multiple facets of the Mercantour. Roubion will introduce visitors to the local lifestyle, past and present, while providing easy access to the park’s core area via the hiking trails that run through its narrow, cobbled streets. Refreshing source water feeds Continue reading