On the path of a meaningful life

Texts, photographs and videos by Claire B.

Sustainable buildling and light habitats. to transform the act of building and rethink our relationship with living things.
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Creative approach. photographic work and videos.

30 April 2019

A breath of Spring

End of my stay in Chamonix. Spring is back, I find motivation again and I take the opportunity to do a few activities.
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The cherry trees have blossomed in the valley. Spring is back. The snow is slowly melting and a calm atmosphere envelops the passing days. I changed my work schedules. I have moved to the morning now. I start at five o’clock am and finish around two o’clock pm. I managed the breakfast most of the week. Louis, the restaurant manager, takes care of the other services and I replace him during his days off. It is much better for me. After the difficult months of January, February and March and my depression, I could not continue in the same way. Fortunately, the food & beverages manager and the restaurant manager accepted my request to change my hours. So here I am starting a more regular rhythm of life and enjoying my afternoons.

Despite the same problems and the fast pace of the breakfast service, I slowly regain strength. The prospect of finishing my contract at the Alpina in a month and my renewed creativity do me good. And then the good weather is back. The valley is slowly recovering colors and pink spots light up the landscape. The cherry and plum trees felt the warmth and the return of happy days.

I took the opportunity to go skiing for the last time of the season. There is not much snow left. I went to Tour / La Balme, the ski area above Vallorcine, just on the Swiss border. The view of the Chamonix valley was magnificent. At the top of the pass, the grass, yellowed by winter, is reappearing. This is where the famous Tour du Mont-Blanc passes, a ten-day hike around the massif crossing France, Switzerland and Italy. I really want to do it. But for the moment there is still too much snow. And the snowfields can survive in some places all summer. I will have to wait until July, maybe even later. The ideal is to do the trek in September, October. The snow has completely disappeared, the weather is generally fine, the temperatures not too hot and the vast majority of tourists have left. The idea of doing it this summer is planted in my mind and I slowly start to set up the post-Chamonix.

At the ski domain of Les Houches, at the beginning of the valley completely opposite to Vallorcine, a large part of the slopes are closed. The snow has melted. The weather is magnificent and I take advantage of the that to appreciate the view of the Mont-Blanc. It glows up there, 3500 meters above me. Rounded mountain covered with eternal snow and the highest peak in Europe. The sun is shining on the metal sheets of The Gouter refuge. Tiny construction hanging to the ridge on the way to the summit. Will I ever be able to climb it?

The Mer de Glace is covered with gray dust. It is not very pretty. But it does not matter. To be in the presence of this monstrous glacier that descends from La Vallée Blanche is impressive. I hear the glacier creaking with a slight rumble, testifying to the constant evolution of nature. A cave has been dug in the ice and a small cable car with red skips followed by a long staircase leads there. I descend along the walls dug by the passage of the glacier. At regular intervals, a plaque reveals the height of the glacier according to the years. The more time passes, the more the Mer de Glace shrinks. In 1823, the glacier proudly descended into the valley. Today, the snowy tongue barely reaches the Montenvers station at 1900m. With global warming, the Mer de Glace has lost 30 meters in length per year since 2003. And it is not the only one to be impacted. The Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers are also affected. This year was not a good year for snow and I have heard many people talk about climate change and the impact on the valley. In the very near future, the Chamonix valley, its ecosystem and its tourist activities linked to the presence of snow will probably be facing major changes.

The view over the valley from the Aiguille du Midi is impressive. This is the second time I go up there. The first time was in perfect weather. Today, the valley is covered with a sea of clouds. It is splendid. A sort of cottony mattress that seems so soft, so attractive. Some skiers cross the immense white expanse of the Vallée Blanche which stretches behind me. The glacial valley at 3400 meters above sea level is one of the most famous places for high mountain off piste skiing. A multitude of ski hikes start from the Aiguille. It is possible to descend to the Mer de Glace and reach the Montenvers station from here.

I get lost in the contemplation of the landscape. I only have a few days left in the valley. My contract is coming to an end. I think back to my seven months spent here. I think back to the problems, the difficulties but also to what it taught me and the discoveries. Many things disappointed me while working at Le Vista but I think that the experience was nevertheless formative. It is in difficulty that we learn. And then it allowed me to open my eyes to several of my behaviors that I absolutely have to change. Become more peaceful, more detached, less perfectionist and knowing how to let go. And then I have to learn to always see the bright side of things. To see the light in the dark. Knowing how to take advantage of a situation to learn, progress and develop my skills.

I am not sure if I will continue in the restauration business. Many things do not please me too much (cut schedules, teams of young and inexperienced seasonal workers, big budget limitations, etc.). But as I still have no precise idea concerning my future, I do not close the door to a possible return. The advantage of catering is that it is easy to find a job all over the world. Perfect for continuing to travel while earning money. But I still have to face the facts, my multitudes catering experiences, whether in Japan, New Zealand, Australia or France, were not fun. It is an exhausting, demanding and repetitive work and I do not think I am cut out for that.

For now I have decided to go on a journey. First with a six-week trip from June to mid-July across the Alps in four countries: Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France. To cross the Mont-Blanc range, the Dolomites and some of the Swiss peaks. I see it as a rebirth, a physical and mental fitness and a return to creation. Followed by a three-month trip, from August to October, in Iceland, by bike and on foot where the driving idea will be to confront myself mentally and physically to the elements. I do not know what the future holds for me but I know that I will, very soon, have to choose a professional path to follow to built a more regular future. So to clear my spirit after these seven difficult months and to get started, I engrave in my mind the beauty of the landscape dotted with snow and spring colors that surrounds me before going back down in the valley.

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Chapter IV. Home spleen home

The Vallée Blanche, Chamonix, France © Claire Blumenfeld

The Alps

The Alps are a very large mountain range with diversified relief spanning across Europe.

South Tyrol, Italy © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Glimpses of the Italian Tyrol

At the beginning of June 2019 I embarked on the exploration of the Dolomites. But personal problems forced me to shorten my trip. Here are some photos from my week in Italy.

Interval in Provence

After seven months in Chamonix, I returned to Provence to visit my parents and prepare my next travels.

A breath of Spring

End of my stay in Chamonix. Spring is back, I find motivation again and I take the opportunity to do a few activities.

The black hole

The first months of 2019 are difficult. Winter is passing in Chamonix and I am facing depression.

In the arms of winter

The good weather has passed, the tourists are back in the streets of Chamonix and my morale is playing hide and seek.

Chamonix, France © Claire Blumenfeld

An autumn in Chamonix

The autumn season in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley is a festival of beautiful colors.

Lac Blanc, Aiguilles Rouges massif, Chamonix valley, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Enchanted hikes

The Chamonix valley is ideal for hiking and I take advantage of the perfect weather to explore it.

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