landscape

Posted by Ellen

There are places in Switzerland that lack the scenic drama of Alpine crags and cliffs. Still and all, Switzerland is Switzerland, what with the daisies and the rolling meadows and the happy, happy cows. The postcard is complete. There's probably chocolate in those villages off in the distance.

Posted by Ellen

Girls grooming a very small horse in Gibbston, New Zealand.

Posted by Ellen

All it took was a few days of bad weather like this, every year for maybe half a million years, and most of the sediment that used to blanket this part of South Dakota has washed on down the White River and then into the Missouri and the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.

This was an ancient seabed, back in the day, deeply mucky, collecting sand and silt and mud from the Black Hills nearby and the Rockies beyond. The sediments piled up in layers hundreds of feet thick, but when the ancient sea drained and the lithified muck was exposed to the elements, wind and rain and frost proved to be powerful chisels. 

It's believed that in another half million years, the remaining spires and parapets will have crumbled down into the gullies, and it'll be curtains for the scenery hereabouts.

Posted by Ellen

Up the road a ways past Casablanca in Morocco is the ancient Berber city of Marrakech, famed for its gardens and palaces and especially for its sprawling, labyrinthine markets.

Click on the picture to, um, biggenize it, to glimpse what's on display in this souk and also, perhaps, to check the accuracy of our unofficial count: mounted on rooftops visible here are at least 104 satellite dishes.

Posted by Ellen

Here in a Zodiac, scooting across Milford Sound, a fjord on New Zealand's remote southwest coast, on a cold wet summer day this past December, is Helen Ruskin Stein Behr with her three sons. Not pictured is her daughter, who visited Milford Sound a few days earlier.

The impetus for the journey to New Zealand was the awesome wedding of one of the granddaughters, Gillian, who emigrated to New Zealand seven years ago with her parents, Richard and Arleigh, and her sister Avi.

Today is Helen's birthday, as she turns eighty-something-and-who's-counting, to our great joy. Wishing her many happy returns of the day.

Posted by Ellen

The Dreamlifter, world's largest cargo plane, stops off regularly in Anchorage, Alaska, en route from parts suppliers in Japan to a Boeing aircraft assembly plant in Everett, Washington.

Some of the parts that travel by Dreamlifter are large modular sections of Boeing 787 jetliners, known as Dreamliners. The sub-assemblies, much too large for other cargo planes, used to be transported by ship, which could take thirty days or more and sometimes led to delays in final assembly.

In 2005, four 747 passenger planes were remodeled to fly as cargo planes carrying the sub-assemblies, which are loaded through a wide hatch at the stern. Other cargo planes can carry more weight, but none can match the four puffed-up Dreamlifters for sheer volume of storage space.

Posted by Ellen

This year in Philadelphia, spring is coming ridiculously late, but it's coming. One sign that gives us high confidence in spring's imminence involves the tips of the crocus stalks, which are just now beginning to poke their way up out of the cold, wet ground. They'll be blooming soon, maybe within the week.

In the high meadows of Bulgaria's Rila Mountains, tallest peaks in the Balkan Peninsula (2925 m), spring always comes late, and crocuses don't bloom till the middle of June. This picture was taken two springs ago on June 19, 2012.

To catch the bright red glow on the ridge rocks, photographer Evgeni Dinev had to climb up here the day before, hauling up a tent, tripod, and all his camera gear. He snapped the shot at sunrise.

Posted by Ellen

As today's contribution to the occasional series "Places We've Not Been and Have No Business Trying to Write Anything About," please consider this roofscape scene taken in Lijiang village, a UNESCO World Heritage site high in the hills of southwest China, near the border with Myanmar.

Human habitation in Lijiang has been continuous since before there was such a thing as a roofscape, or even a roof; paleolithic cave-dwellers were here. The ancient Silk Road passed through here. Townspeople grew wealthy through trade and tribute, and they began to rebuild their town in more elaborate, decorative styles.

Civilization was flourishing here in the thirteenth century. And fortunately for some, within about eight hundred years, give or take, the tourists showed up.

Posted by Ellen

The cold and the storms both showed up in Philadelphia this week, but somehow the effect we see here in a high mountain valley in the Tyrolean Alps is a little more dramatic and astonishing than it is out on the streets and sidewalks of Brotherly Love. Pretty much all we've got in town right now are slashing rains and chill.