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Winter beauty - the first hike of the year

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

From the start, I loved my hike today!

See what I mean? Yes, my beloved wild clematises! And a river. And trees' reflections. Lovely!

After crossing the river, I walked past the community pond, with more beautiful reflections...

The pond was next to a factory and it was a bit dirty and ugly!

But it didn't last long... and soon I was enjoying walking in beautiful nature again...

I sometimes tell my Sparkfriends who contact me saying there is nothing to see in their area that if they look around them they'll surely find beauty. The pictures that follow are a good example of a place that didn't look like much and was actually full of beauty in my opinion... See what you think. :)

I loved how the white dry flowers looked under the brown background!

At the end of the path Uny's church appeared...

I walked on the road for 20 minutes or so. I didn't mind as it was peaceful and there were very few cars.

Then I was back on paths...

It was MUDDY!!!

Wow, that was such great exercise! Most of the time, my feet were heavy, covered with mud, and it was sometimes hard work to remove them from the mud! Lots of fun!

Despoilleux was a very quiet and pretty village:

I turned in a path just after the cross (which was just a bit too realistic I felt!):

Many of the trees, small or big, were covered with mistletoe. It looked beautiful but it means the trees aren't healthy, so it is a bit sad.

Mr Horse was hoping I would give him something to eat I think. There was no grass in his meadow, poor him, only mud! :(

After walking by Cambronne-les-Clermont's cemetery...

... I saw Vaux's castle in the distance:

It was built in the 17th century and cannot be visited. It is a shame as I read on the Internet that its garden has received the label 'Jardin remarquable' from the Ministry of Culture.
I walked towards the church...

... passed by a beautiful house with impressive gates (and blue shutters! FITMAY will like it!)...

... and followed a very charming path down the hill.

After walking through more fields, I was back in Rantigny.

It was a great hike! Not very long, which was fine for me today (3.5 hours). I hope you enjoyed it too! Thank you again so much for all your wonderful comments on my last blog, your support and encouragements are very precious for me. Enjoy the end of your weekend!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    938 days ago
  • QTEALADY20031
    Claire, just Beautiful!!! I wish I was there with you. I am not getting notifications of your blogs and missed this one. I love the picture of the village. I do hope you have a memory book of your beautiful places and the scenery that you capture. Thank you again so much for sharing your moments in Parish with your Spark friends! emoticon June
    1855 days ago
    Oh so beautiful!!! I was missing the mental break of "walking" with you... Let's keep "walking" together sweet friend...
    Sending love frome the College of Charleston Library to Paris!! (See I'm studying... LOL)

    1859 days ago
    Trying to catch up on Sparking~. Loved your photos. You are so right all you need to do is look around, there is much beauty in the simplest things!
    1862 days ago
    What a magnificent walk. I love your pictures.
    1862 days ago
    Wow what a great hike, I too love to see the standing plants that are done for the year but still attractive in their own way. And I can almost feel the weight of your shoes with the mud!
    When we did an addition to our house in 1998 it was a very wet fall and the yard soon turned into a huge muddy mess. Our oldest kids thought it was great to go out in their rubber boots and slosh around until our daughter got her boot stuck and then was standing on one leg trying to get her boot back. I had to go out and pull the boot and the girl out of the mud! She was 9 at the time. Now she is in her twenties and still likes puddles and mud.

    1862 days ago
  • BEWELL48
    Thank you! Such beauty and serenity! Every season has wondrous sights to offer! emoticon emoticon
    1862 days ago
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures.
    1863 days ago
    What a lovely hike emoticon for bringing us along! I enjoyed being transported for a few minutes this morning!
    1865 days ago
    Another set of incredibly beautiful pictures, Claire - thanks again for sharing them with us. It's clear I'm not the only person who truly enjoys them! I do have good news for you, however - mistletoe on a tree does not harm it as much as was thought [except for a couple of varieties, which I think you don't have in your area] and there is some evidence it is even helpful for the tree. It is a case of symbiosis rather than parasitic action. The mistletoe depends on the tree for life and it only causes a problem if it overwhelms the tree, which it usually does not. It is an important 'keystone species' that is very important to the overall environment because so many birds and animals live on the mistletoe, esp during the time of year when other food sources are scarce. The animals that thrive on mistletoe are beneficial to the tree so the circle of life is supported by its presence in a very positive way.

    As for your other comments, I agree totally that there is beauty in many things if we just look for it. I live in Southern California where native plants turn a golden brown or a grey-brown in the hot, dry months as a survival technique. People often comment that the hills look 'dead' to them because they assume all the plants have died. Yet many of these people will also comment they like the 'changing of the seasons' when tree leaves turn yellow, red and brown before falling off the tree. That's basically the same type of process - the tree is going dormant to protect itself during the winter cold. We have a similar effect on some plants and trees, esp if we have frost [which is not common here] but our native plants have a brilliant way of adapting to various conditions. Even in areas where annual plants literally do die, I see the beauty of that because they are composting into the soil to make it richer for the next crop, whose seeds are in the soil being enriched.

    If we recognize the full definition of beauty, whether you credit it to God or nature or anything else, we can begin to see the amazing beauty in everything. If we narrow our definition to a small portion of life, then we limit our experience of beauty and life, which is sad. So my wish for the world is that we learn to see BEAUTY in all things - not just thin, blond 20-year-old models with perfect skin and teeth but realize that a wrinkled, toothless 'old person' shows a different type of beauty, that of rich experience and a perspective that the 20-yr-old models of the world can't begin to fathom yet.

    Anyway, end of my babbling - thanks again for posting such a fantastic blog - it was exactly what I needed to start this morning off the right way!
    1865 days ago
    Beautiful as always.....Thanks for taking us along!
    1866 days ago
    The landscapes were very varied! All your pictures look especially peaceful. It must have been quite quiet.
    I really like the white tree trunk contrasting with his bright green leaves - I think it's beautiful!
    What's your next hike?
    1866 days ago
    Your photos are stunningly beautiful, as usual. Wishing you the best in 2013.
    1867 days ago
    I'm so glad your weather allowed you to get out and enjoy the fresh air. What a beautiful hike. Clematis is a pretty plant. I have been thinking of getting one to grow over our trellis. The plant has so many colors to chose from. The pond pictures are gorgeous. It's always so nice when reflections show up in pictures. The dry flowers are so dainty looking. I remember loving them as a child, and I still do. The Cross is realistic, but I do admire the art. Such talent, who ever created the piece. You need to start carrying Carrots in your pockets lol. Pretty horse. Thank you for taking us along with your walk!
    1867 days ago
    I loved the pics and it really is a beautiful hike. But one thing that really really struck me and that I agree with so completely is that if you look around, there is beauty. Sometimes when I post blogs of my hikes I feel like I'm posting the same type of scenerey in some of them over and over and wonder if people get bored. High desert areas that seem like they don't show so well in pictures I get responses from people who live in totally different areas that say how lucky I am and how beautiful it is, and it amazes me. I love it, because I love the serenity of being out there. But sometimes I don't think some of my areas would look that great to others. But it does. I also find that the more I take pictures, I look for those little things that are beautiful in the midst of all that is around them. A flower or the particular color of a bush that has turned reddish because of the season change (even with no leaves or anything) or certain rock formations, or other little things that I see more closely when I am looking through a camera lens. And as I think about blogging about my hike, I see other things I want to share. And I believe that every place has it's own unique beauty, whether it's desert or dried bushes or beautiful trees or giant redrock formations or whatever. I love trees, water, streams, etc, but I find so much beauty in other things that might be considered stark or drab sometimes. It's just amazing what we can see beauty in if we really look.
    1867 days ago
    Seeing the world through your eyes is always beautiful, Claire! Not everyone is able to notice the beauty around them.
    I hope 2013 is filled with lots of long, beautiful and rewarding hikes for you!
    1867 days ago
    So beautiful in the dead of winter! Thank you for sharing.
    1867 days ago
    I had not been receiving notification of your blogs and just came looking today to visit. It was a perfect treat as I realized that my grandson just arrived in France this morning on his way to Grenoble for a couple of weeks. Oh how I wish I wereable to visit. If he were going to be there longer, I'd certainly be visiting. But in the meantime, your blogs will allow me to share it with him. Actually, I'm sure I'm getting a better tour than he is. Have a blessed day.
    1868 days ago
    Enjoyed your walk! I admire you for going ahead and walking in the mud! It does want to suck your feet into it, so that was a very physically demanding walk you took! Thanks for sharing.
    1868 days ago
  • DAWN14163
    Beautiful photow, lovely walk! This is just how I imagine France to be, especially the blue shutters, rivers and castles!
    1868 days ago
    Wow, Claire, another beautiful hike! You are right, there is beauty everywhere there is nature. We just need to open our eyes! Even in a crowded city there is beauty -- clouds, sky, people, kids, and color. The flowers looked like snow to me!

    Also thank you for your kind comments on my blog, your support is much appreciated.
    1868 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    Lovely as ever. You are right that there is beauty in most things if you take the time to look:) Thank you.
    1868 days ago
  • NAN041
    Claire...So lovely, many thanks.

    Isn't it amazing how the lovely Ivy can cling to most common, but a lovely addition to everything...
    emoticon Peace, Nan
    1868 days ago
    What a lovely walk! I've been exploring D.C. as if I am a tourist again and love it! I do that on my "rest days" from kickboxing (Turbofire). I hope you found a yoga dvd you like. Happy New Year!
    1868 days ago
    Thank you for the lovely walk. Do a lot of people live in the castles Claire in France? That is surprising about the one place where the garden is & they do not allow the public to visit the grounds.Take care
    1868 days ago
  • BAKER1009
    3.5 hours seems long to me! Wish I could have went with you! It's icey outside and I fear it's too dangerous for me right now. It's suppose to warm up this week though, so hopefully I can get out walking soon!
    The pictures, as always, are just beautiful!! Love the horse...poor thing in all that mud!

    1868 days ago
    Thanks for letting us join your hike again. Very beautiful and peaceful.
    1868 days ago
    So very beautiful!!! emoticon for letting me come along on your wonderful hike.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1868 days ago
    What a wonderful hike! Thank you so much for sharing this story and your beautiful photos. I love the path down the hill. It's so lovely to 'experience' the hike with you!

    emoticon emoticon
    1868 days ago
    Thank you for taking me on a beautiful walk again.
    I really feel as though I am hiking right beside you and no
    we can wash off all the mud from our boots! The clematis is
    lovely. emoticon
    1868 days ago
    I really enjoyed our hike today emoticon emoticon Now we need to go clean all that mud off our shoes!! emoticon
    1868 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    I always look forward to the beautiful pictures of your hikes. Loved them all especially the picture with the clematis and the church. All the clematis seeds must really fly in the wind, must be magical to see.
    Thank you Claire I do agree that you should rest your eyes for the computer, take care of yourself. emoticon
    1868 days ago
    Lovely, lovely, lovely as always. Your photographs are spectacularly beautiful, melancholy in some ways, and always provoke lots of interesting comments. Your blogs are a blessing to so many of us.
    1868 days ago
    Claire, I agree that there is beauty to be found everywhere but you have a greater gift than most people at seeing and capturing it and then sharing it with the rest of us. We are very fortunate that you let us see things through your eyes.
    1868 days ago
  • KAREN91
    As always I enjoyed your hike. You are right about being able to find beauty everywhere. If 3.5 hours is a short hike you must be in wonderful shape. Is the winter mild where you are? Thanks for taking us with you on your walk. I will look for the beauty around my area because of your inspiration. Now that its too snowy here to ride my bike which is my favorite exercise I'm going to go on more walks. I dont know if I'll ever walk as far as you but you inspire me to try. I know you will rock 2013. Your blogs always make me smile. By the way thanks for visiting and commenting on my blogs. Your support means alot to me. emoticon
    1868 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/5/2013 9:17:23 PM
  • CHRIS3874
    Tres Belle
    1869 days ago
  • KATYDID412
    Beautiful. I agree with you -- there's usually beauty to be found all around us if we look for it.
    1869 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    Wow, what a grey looking day. As always, you managed to find beauty. That cross is very realistic. That would have terrified me as a child!

    The mistletoe is beautiful even if it does kill the trees. We are constantly battling mistletoe here, too. That picture of the ivy is beautiful. The ivy can be deadly for the trees, too! We used to live in an historic area and one of the historic houses we would frequently pass was covered with ivy. My husband would cringe. He knew the ivy was ruining the house but it was pretty.

    Glad you had a good hike!
    1869 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    It was a great hike!! Simply lovely. Thank you and may you enjoy many more wonderful hikes this year.
    1869 days ago
    Thank you, Clare. Many lovely pictures! My favorite is the ivy on the tree - boldly graphic. And, I loved the mud and your description of same. It reminded me of the line from the e.e. cummings poem: "... When the world is mud luscious and puddle wonderful."

    1869 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/5/2013 7:51:51 PM
    What a lovely walk I could almsot take a breath of the crisp air it was magical. Vaux Castle is gorgeous too.

    thanks for letting me come too. emoticon emoticon
    1869 days ago
    lovely, claire - thanks for sharing!
    1869 days ago
    Great walk. I can just feel the squelch of the mud. If it was me, I'd probably be sitting in it :)
    1869 days ago
    Claire, you can make even a gray day look beautiful. I am so glad you had such a wonderful hike today. Even with all the mud, it looks llike a beautiful place to hike. The poor horse, I hope it has hay somewhere. Thanks for sharing your day with us!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!
    1869 days ago
  • GAMMY98
    so pretty looks like a great walk except for the mud. Thanks so much for sharing emoticon
    1869 days ago
  • DALID414
    I agree, the cross looks very realistic.
    1869 days ago
    Dear Clqire - I have been very happy to discover your blog. I am new to SparkPeople. Your photos are so poetic and I love seeing the details that you share with us. Thank you! Darla
    1869 days ago
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