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Dwight Peck

Peck slideshow
How time flies

Dwight Clark Peck, Jr is a quiet, gracefully-aging gentleman who has managed so far to keep more or less out of harm's way.

Mr Peck was an American academic and former athlete who moved to Switzerland in 1977 and, since then, has worked as head librarian and sometimes academic dean of the American College of Switzerland and, for 20 years, as Communications Officer for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Now retired, he spends his time traveling with Kristin Hagge, mostly in Europe, reading history and Nordic Noir, and hiking in the Jura mountains.

Well, no more, unfortunately. In March 2019, after 42 years in our pricey paradise, we're back in the USA, under semi-duress, in Staunton, Virginia in fact, one of a very few possibilities that looked to be congenial. And, so far, it is.

Anyway, the purpose of this website is still to host photo essays on a number of subjects and places about which Mr Peck has taken suitable photos, chiefly to do with his travels, scenic views of local Swiss towns and sights, and hiking and snowshoeing mostly in the Jura, as well as of family and friends.

Most Recent Events

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2021. National disasters but good fun locally. The summer began in early May with a road trip visiting old friends in South and North Carolina, followed by Alison’s visit & some hikes in the Blue Ridge area. Then off for Wisconsin, via a few days’ hiking at the Natural Bridge in Kentucky and a visit with Emily’s gang in Chicago. Three-plus fairly blissful months ensued of water-related frolics on the lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods, with visits to the cottage on Lake Superior photographing amusing driftwood all over the beach. On the lake we got regular viewings of loons, ducks, eagles, turtles, cats of course, and a snake, with lots of mushroom- and invasive-weed-hunting. At the seasonal end of all which, in early October we paused to accompany Emily to the Art Institute of Chicago, before scurrying on for three days of scenic walks at the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. In sum, we refused to be too despondent about the self-flushing political situation in the USA, and continued to seek out wholesome fun wherever we could find it.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2020-2021. Basically, the Nothing Year. How could we have got through it without the Trump jokes from the Late Night comic monologues? As the Trump administration of dodgy dimwits' covid death toll kept rising, we transitioned from an encouraging defeat of the Orange Freak in November to, two months later, the first armed attack on the nation's capital since 1814, and the realization by normal people that a sizable portion of the American population is distinctly abnormal. With all that tumbling in upon us, it's not easy to recall anything in our personal lives worth noting -- for us, a few rewarding hikes in the region, a few political demonstrations (masked), a few visits to nearby scenic destinations, some impromptu photos of Melvin the Doge and little Choupette, but not the postponed trip to Sicily. Things may improve soon, in the interim before the catastrophic effects of Climate Change, left too long for much mitigation now, come to stay forever. Winter 2020-2021

Summer fundotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2020. The summer of Trump's Virus. So little to report, or to recall fondly later, in the summer of 2020, in which our national leaders raised ferocious incompetence to a high art, and left all of our citizens with an IQ over 78 masked and nearly quarantined throughout the season. In one sense, it was a write-off season, but in another, it was often great fun – hydrobikes got pedaled all round the Northwoods lake nearly every afternoon, 44 books got themselves read out on the lakeshore lawn, and, with careful precautions, we didn’t fall victim to Trump's Virus despite all his regime’s lack of efforts on our behalf. We’re heartily grateful that (at this age) we’re no longer dependent on the weekly pay packet, and we’re heartily filled with sorrow for those Americans who are. Anyway, lots of cute cat antics here, and predatory eagles.

Local beautiesdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2019-2020. Still ‘settling in’. In the absence of any Italian or French cities near to hand for exploring, we’ve had to fall back on visits to such well known and worthy destinations as Boone, NC; Wytheville, Lexington, and Harrisonburg, VA; and of course our home base, Staunton, VA. Getting to know the territory; in other words, still settling in. We’ve escorted visitors to the local Frontier Culture Museum on several occasions, and adopted Sherando Lake and the Augusta Springs Wetland as attractive venues for casual walks, with one proper hike to Ragged Mountain with Alison and Mark. In March, however, the Trump Virus locked us down, and thereafter it’s been all reading and TV, masked afternoon walks in the suburbs, and a weekly dawn raid on the Kroger.

Giraffes and Wizardsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2019. A New Chapter, for better or for worse. After some brisk snowshoeing in the Jura mountains in February, and a short trip over to the Canavese region in Italy, in early March we finally leapt into The Future, or into the abyss, as it might be. The big move to the USA, after all these years, to Staunton, Virginia, in fact, a grueling experience in itself, and a 5-week wait until the household stuff arrived – all of the usual headaches getting insurance, driving licenses, a bank account, a 'credit rating' so-called, etc. But we were able to begin settling in, scoping out the pleasant environment here, acquiring the devilish Choupette the Burmese kitten as a playmate for Melvin the Doge, visiting Mark and Nancy in South Carolina, before in June sprinting off on the annual pilgrimage to the lake in northern Wisconsin, where Marlowe, Dmitri, and Billy were able to find us for some fun. Following all which we road-tripped back to Staunton in time for the ‘Mischief and Magic’ festival, in celebration of Harry Potter, in late September.

Sacred blasts from the pastdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2018-2019. Emilia-Romagna; Piemonte; Liguria; Canavese; Virginia. With generally good weather in Italy in October, we got to visit Bobbio in the Trebbia Valley, along with Piacenza, with friends Teny and Joe, and then moved on to the southern Piedmont region, based in Mondoví with day trips to Cuneo, Albenga on the Ligurian shores, medieval Zuccarello in the coastal mountains, and Acqui Terme near Alessandria. After some interesting snowshoeing in the blustery Jura mountains in midwinter, with all our Worldly Stuff packed up and off towards the New World, we wedged in a brief journey to the Canavese area of the northern Piemonte, with a visit to the Borgo e Rocca Medievale and the Palazzo Madama art gallery in Torino, and then took off in early March for a sobering new chapter in life's comic book, viz., the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Draining the swampdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2018. The Langhe region in northern Italy, then Virginia, then Wisconsin. The summer began with a ten-day sightseeing visit in mid-May to the beautiful Langhe area of the Italian region of Piemonte, with stops in Alba, Saluzzo, Savigliano, Fossano, and Asti, along with a large number of castles. Then the seasonal journey back to the USA, this time with a five-day stop-off on the Delmarva Peninsula with old friends and another five days househunting in Charlottesville and Staunton. Back to the Wisconsin Northwoods in late June for the now-annual frolicking on the lake, and finally a last stop in Staunton, Virginia, before coming home in mid-September.

Ups and Downsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2017-2018. In the awful Year of Trump (hopefully the last one). Autumn got off to a good start in early October, for Alison's and Mark's visit from Hawaii, with some hiking around the 19th century alpine hotel of Rosenlaui, in the region of the Eiger north wall. Later in the month, we wedged in a visit to Lisbon, Portugal, and the nearby attractions. In mid-December we devoted a few weeks to San Marino [photo left] and other scenic wonders in the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy, including Ferrara, Rimini, Cesena, and finally Vogogna on the road home. After some good snowshoeing in mid-winter, in February we visited various spots in Lombardy, based in Lodi with side trips to the Brera in Milan, Crema, and Como. Some more good spring snowshoeing, and finally a good start for the summer with a mid-May trip to the Langhe area southeast of Torino, with its beautiful hills mostly topped by castles.

More Recent Events, 1995-2021

Special Features

Collections of various kinds of things, in no particular order and of varying degrees of potential interest, placed here from time to time in the public interest

Jura farms in winterFarms of the Jura. A photo series on the communal farms of the Swiss Jura mountains in the dead of winter -- growing like Topsy, some 75 or 80 wintry farms up now, and only one taken down because of a private-property owner's concerns about increased littering on the premises.

Holes of Mind the step! the Jura. The Swiss Jura, in the Mont Tendre region, is made largely of limestone and in many places has washed out in dark holes and chimneys small, medium-sized, and frequently gigantic. There's great sport to be had in seeking them out in the snow, darting up close for a snapshot, and backpedaling frantically, giggling in triumph. The Grand Search for Holes. [gazing in fascination into a hole, photo right]

Snowshoeing in the Jura. Rudimentary lessons on how to go about enjoying this popular winter sport, and also on how not to.

Swiss towns and villages (some of which we've dwelt in). Right here.

All aboard!Tourist trains of Europe. Spotting the ubiquitous Dotto Trains from Italy, and the more elusive Tschu-Tschu trains from Germany, in the fashionable tourist destinations all over Europe. Clang clang.

Steamships of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). The fleet of eight "Belle Epoque" lake steamers and assorted other vessels, on Lake Geneva and selected other lakes elsewhere. Climb aboard.

Little bundles of attitudeForest refuges of the Jura. Photos and descriptions of a bunch of little one-room huts stuck out in the forest, good to memorize in case you twist your knee someday out there whilst hiking along dreaming of your future career triumphs and not watching where you're going. Crawl in here.

Cats with character. Melvin the Doge (b. 10/2016), subsequently joined by Choupette (b. 11/2018), vying playfully for dominance. Here they come!

Some running pix, from back in the day. A few world relay records, half a century ago, and assorted other sporty escapades. Huff puff.

Prepare for the worstCollectibles: Odds and Ends. Photos of various things we thought were pretty funny at the time, like Beheadings, Martyr-Saints, Nursing Madonna, The Twelve Mile StareFunny Baby Jesus, Last Supper Menu, Kristin & the Lions, Penitential Mary Magdalene, and Joachim Beuckelaer. Maybe good for a laugh.

Various travels. Despite exceptionally strong instincts towards gazing for long hours off the balcony at Swiss scenic vistas with a chilled bottle of beer firmly in hand, from time to time Mr Peck has been gratefully dragged away to other venues. Selected travels and visits since about 1980.

Physiognomy (Herr Peck's and a few others). An essay on faces and what they sometimes reveal or don't. (And Kristin's as well.)

Something else

Castle-Come-DownBig story. Castle-Come-Down - faith and doubt in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Rather a lengthy tale of nasty court politics in England in the 1570s and 1580s and, in France, espionage, murder, and general mayhem in aid of Mary Queen of Scots and/or the Spanish Armada. It's a "true story", too, or meant to be, sort of. Illustrations included in the Web version (not in the 1.7mb PDF). Advance to the index page (no credit cards or adult authentication required).

DerborenceSlightly smaller but still pretty big story. Derborence - a new translation (by Dwight) of Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz's classic tale (1934) of peasant life in the Swiss Alps in the 18th century, when the back half of the Diablerets mountains fell off and buried all of the summer high-mountain livestock grazers -- but, months later, one of them came home! And then went back! The great plan was to illustrate the story with lots of evocative photos of the place today, but for the moment the haunting Ramuzian prose will have to suffice. This is a must read for all sentimental mountaineers, nostalgic peasants, and unashamed poetical spirits who admire family values and ghostlike apparitions. Advance to the Intro page.

ccd-leicesterhead1.jpg (9571 bytes)Quite a few more stories, some perhaps semi-true. Robert Dudley (1532?-1588), Earl of Leicester and Queen Elizabeth's long-time favorite, was the subject of scandal from the very beginnings of the Elizabethan era in England (1558-1603). Study of the black legends surrounding his life, times, and putative crimes provides insights into the political, social, religious, and administrative history of Britain and lots and lots of furtive and ribald fun. Mr Peck spent many pleasant hours pursuing these matters and writing up his results, quite a few years ago, and somewhat later, scanning them and posting them all here. At least all of them that can still be found under piles of NYRBs and behind the sofa cushions. Here is a menu of 16th century diatribes, libels, and screeds, parental guidance encouraged for some of them.

  Q.: Do you know why you're here?
A.: No, I'm afraid not.
Q.: Well, do you have any questions then?
A.: No. Can't really think of any.

Dwight Peck
Last updated, 5 December 2021

The view from home, 2014-February 2019

The view from home, March 2019 -

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