Kris à Genève

A Canadian living in Switzerland

Spring renewal

with one comment

I have now seen six springs in Geneva. Although this does not qualify me to write for the Swiss version of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, I have begun to form my own expectations for the different seasons. For example, winter 2013-4 was stubborn and refused to step aside until June. This year, winter was more polite, giving way in March to a middling spring that has balanced sunny days with rainy ones.

Spring floods Geneva with greenery and flowers. The city is quite green throughout the year, but is downright lush in spring. The green sprouts in its tree-lined streets and network of parks, trails and green belts. Flower gardens are not as ubiquitous as green spaces, but the parks service tends flower beds in selected public spaces.

To enjoy the spring bloom, we do not even need to leave our apartment. In fact, the bloom crowds in on the views from our windows and balcony. The following photo shows a flower box on our balcony – tended by Eileen, not the city – and the street obscured by the green canopy that runs along our street.

Spring view from our balcony

Spring view from our balcony

Although we see a lot of green in our neighbourhood, we do not see many well tended gardens. For that, I am fortunate to work at the Palais des Nations, which has an ambitious staff of landscapers and gardeners. The Palais sits on a larger piece of land called the Parc Ariana, which the staff tends into various landscapes: mowed grass, gardens, trails, woods and wild grasses. When I walk to work, I do not meander through all of these zones. I enter the grounds at the Place des Nations gate, pass the iconic flags and then through the southern gate, into a large courtyard with a variety of flower beds. The following photo shows the view out from the southern courtyard, toward the flags, the three-legged chair and the Place des Nations, with a few of the central flower beds in the foreground.

South gate, Palais des Nations

South gate, Palais des Nations

Springtime flowers are one of the rare subjects that motivate me to bring out my little-used macro lens. I wait especially for the morning after a rainy night, when big water drops still wobble on the petals. This weather also helps with macro photography, which is more demanding than shooting at greater distances from a subject. The macro focussing motor allows you to focus at less than a metre, using smaller adjustments. This also means that the focus is very fine and can be upset by wind or shake. Tricky focus is compounded by the effect of proximity on depth of field: the closer you are to a subject, the narrower aperture you need to achieve the same depth of field. This requires a slower shutter speed, making the shot even more susceptible to wind and shake. Using a tripod on a windless day is best.

Another consideration is light: since my camera and I are often hovering over the subject, direct sunlight can result in my shadow falling right where I am shooting, creating stark contrast with the sunlit areas around. Clouds provide a more diffuse light, another advantage of the morning after a nighttime rainfall.

Here are a couple of macro shots on a windless, cloudy morning, albeit without a tripod. They show tulips in the flower bed from the above photo.

Red tulip

Red tulip

Purple tulip

Purple tulip

A couple of the other beds in the southern courtyard are filled with flowers from the allium family. I looked online for the exact variety, but the closest matches have silly names, such as “purple sensation,” “globemaster” and “millenium,” so I prefer just “allium flower.” The following photos were all shot on the same morning and show allium flowers in progressive stages of opening.

Allium sequence 1

Allium sequence 2

Allium sequence 3

Allium sequence 4

Allium sequence 5

The welcomest effect of spring has been its curative one on Juniper’s mood. She turned 18 months and began daycare in December. Those two developments contributed to a disagreeable winter for Juniper. Eileen and I still enjoyed moments of joy with her, but they were fewer than before and spaced between more regular tantrums and whining. This lasted until Easter weekend – Good Friday morning, to be exact – when she woke in a renewed happy mood.

So spring is rich with life, plants, flowers, colours… yeah, yeah. Not having my daughter throw a tantrum, flat on her belly, legs and fists pounding the floor, because I said she had to wear a jacket to go out in the snow – THAT is my favourite springtime renewal!

Here are a few photos of our expressive, toddling Juniper since her Easter renewal:

“I will come, but I will not like it!”

Hunting for Easter chocolates

Hunting for Easter chocolates

Running against the wind in Ouchy

Running into the wind in Ouchy

Juniper slides by herself, although still cautiously

Juniper slides by herself, although still cautiously

Three rebellious friends under four years of age

Three rebellious friends under four years of age

Flying is Juni's favourite mode of travel

Flying is Juni’s favourite mode of travel

“That cow is so awesome, it is blowing my MIND!”

Just don't turn right

Just don’t turn right

A cute mess

A cute mess

May sunshine and happy children carry on into summer!

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Written by Kris Terauds

May 22, 2015 at 14:09

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Hi Kris: Really impressed with the floral shots: we grew allium in the front yard for a year or two before something ate the bulbs. but they are a beautiful flower. Once again, your work is great! PS Who’s the little trouble-maker?

    Mike P

    May 24, 2015 at 04:05


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