Looking back over the last few years, I notice that each Spring is highlighted by an abnormally high level of chaos and challenge. Whether it was spending hundreds of hours designing a water treatment plant for my final year design project at McGill, or deciding to quit a great job and pack up 20 years of my life to move away to a new ‘old’ world in Zurich, or survive through my hardest academic semester yet as I work towards a Master’s in Environmental Science; the Summer, Autumn and Winter do not seem to be marked with such extreme or unexpected changes to my regularly scheduled life.
This spring was no exception as I wandered my way through an academic/professional/personal interest semester which is just finishing up, of course, with a (bagpipe) toot and bang.
Due to my impeccable ability to plan or possibly a subconscious will to explode, during the final week of the semester and while preparing for a final wrap-up workshop for another research course, both my parents and two friends from Canada, Tina and Julian, came over to visit. For me it was a whole new level of management as I coordinated people in and out of my apartment, juggled clean sheets and fresh bread, hopped on trains up and down the mountains, and pointed people off in the most beautiful/tasty/relaxing directions. (Oh perhaps I know how my Aunt feels!) Despite the chaos, it was a wonderfully fun few weeks and it is now starting to wind down as Tina and Julian just left today, and my parents head back to the other side of the world next week.
And finally, for those who were witness to this saga, I have a new camera! The acquisition of this one is another story, but in short I made a new friend and saved a pretty Swiss penny, and am now the happy owner of a Panasonic LX-5. I’m still getting a feel for it and the increased sophistication as I move into more manual controls and effects, but I captured some moments from these past weeks in order to, once again, file another intense Spring into the history books.
The first part of the visits were up in the mountains, where we could have all the family together- cousins, sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, dog! There were 8 of us at one point, and sometimes it got a little tiring. But my Mom always kept everyone entertained with endless projects- helping young Mia with a freshly picked cherry compote, keeping the dogs back from a newly painted red wall on the terrace, and endless cooking. But there was some spare time to visit and take in the beautiful panoramas of Zurich and the mountain valley where my Aunt lives.
But sometimes it did get a little exhausting as well.
My Dad and I have a notorious sweet tooth, essentially non-existent in my Mom, so after being solely with her for the first few days I needed to get my fix! Luckily I have been following a local food blogger (http://mykugelhopf.ch/) who adores sweets and has created a tour around some of Zurich’s finest sugar havens. So for a lovely drizzling afternoon, my Dad and I had our palettes sweetened with artisanal chocolates from Switzerland, followed by American-style cupcakes, and ending at one of the oldest bakeries of Zurich- cafe Schober- full of french pastries, secret sitting nooks, and deeply rich hot chocolate. It was a delightful tour and we left with a glimpse into the family history of chocolate making in Switzerland by some of the big names such as Lindt, Sprungli, Tobler, and Nestle, to name a few.
And Tina and Julian also got into the sweet fun when I introduced them to the famous Luxemburgli of Zurich. Little cream fillings squished between two meringues in an array of colours and flavours like white peach, champagne, lemon, and caramel salt.
Energized from the combination of crispy meringue and fresh fruit cream, we criss-crossed the old town of Zurich, checking out the fish of the Limmat and the cobble stones of the winding streets.
For many reasons, including the presence of all these Canadians, we held a surprise party for Tilmann. I can’t remember ever being so nervous with anticipation- for the food, the people and, of course, the element of surprise! I had a few indispensable helpers whipping up hummus and roasted vegetables, opening bottles of wine and entertaining the crowd, as we all patiently waited until the last guest, Tilmann, unknowingly walked through the door to a room full of friends and bagpipe tunes. No photos of that moment unfortunately, but you’ll just have to imagine the shock and excitement of everyone there.
A few photos below of the waiting game and the final relaxed conversations later into the night.
As everyone slowly trickles out and the hum of activity in my apartment becomes quieter and my schedule doesn’t include such details like airport trips, fondue making, or afternoon beers, I realize the wonder that visitors add to the regular schedule of life. It wouldn’t have been Spring without them!