Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not a place, but a very special state of mind

     ...from a photographer's notebook

"Patschifig"     ©2011 Steve Ember
I was delighted to have my Swiss landscape "Patschifig" selected for inclusion in the Annual Landscape Show at the Art League Gallery in Old Town Alexandria. It will be on display through September 2 in a 20x14 inch print. If you are reading this in the Washington D.C. area, I hope you can join us for the Opening Reception Thursday evening, August 9, from 7 to 9 PM. The Gallery is on the Alexandria waterfront, on the first floor of the Torpedo Factory, at the corner of King and North Union Streets.

You may recall reading about "Patschifig"  in a previous post. On the other hand, perhaps something "Alpine" will prove a good antidote to the unremitting steam bath we've been slogging through this summer.

I normally title my Swiss landscapes according to where they were taken. But this one called out for something different. The moment I  saw  it on my monitor, while editing images from my last trip, I knew there was only one thing I could call it: Patschifig.

Patschifig is a word well known to the people of Canton Graubünden in Switzerland. It's about as difficult to define in mere words as is the more conventional German "Gemütlichkeit," but one absolutely knows its meaning when one experiences it. 

I first experienced it in 1989, in the autumn afternoon sunshine, high in the Bernina Alps. I’d experience it again and again on future visits to my beloved Graubünden, in 1994 and 2010, whether riding the bright red trains of the Rhätische Bahn, hiking with my cameras in the Bündner Alps, strolling the cobblestone streets of ancient Chur, or reflecting on such activities at the end of the day, while dining on hearty Bündner Gerstensuppe (the regional barley soup) and other tasty fare.

I was certainly feeling “patschifig.” I just didn’t know it ;-)

Until last October. Because, on that particular trip, I not only enjoyed my favorite region in Switzerland, but I got to do so, for the first time, with lifelong residents of Graubünden, my friends, Beatrice and Ruedi.

Beatrice, also a photographer, decided it was time to "up the ante" on my rudimentary and somewhat rusty spoken German by coaching me not only in Schwyzerdütsch, but the Bündnerdialekt as well!

So, over heaping platters of Bündnerfleisch – along with ample amounts of Calandabräu (to chase away any last vestiges of reserve in trying out some of those initially intimidating “sounds”) – the classes in Bündnersprache took place.

And it was then that I finally learned the name for that easy-going, Gemütlich feeling of well-being I always experience the moment I arrive in Canton Graubünden -- Patschifig!

So…while I normally identify my photos by place name, this one I simply chose to identify by the term that immediately springs to mind when I remember this particular early autumn Graubünden afternoon in 2011.

I(ch) mag Patschifig!

"Patschifig" will also be joining my line of custom printed Photo Note Cards. For sizes and pricing, please be in touch.

And, if you'd like a higher definition look at "Patschifig," please follow this link to my images on Foto-Community. Click on "To the photos of SE" and navigate to the "Swiss Alps" folder.

Photo, Narrative, and Design ©2011/2012 Steve Ember  

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