While Zurich remains grey all day, at least up in the mountains the endless depth of the blue sky can be found. But the sun sinks early, and the darkness consumes the mountains and surrounding villages- just a few points of light, of life, remind that there is someone out there (or at least some flowing electrons) on the other side of the river.
Mia and I brought paper bags and candles out into the field. The little lights carved out a tiny sphere in the darkness, though we could still barely see each other or where we were walking. The lit bags were floating over the land as we tried out how we could light up these mountains.
The barn and trough, waiting for the ponies to come over the winter, added some depth, texture and boundaries.
But some boundaries are better left open.
Oh these two… they fill my heart indeed.
‘Darkness is your candle. Boundaries are your quest’ – Rumi
Regular classes were finished, but we were all still busy with our short ‘block’ courses. I was finishing up the case study (see the school page) and others were on educational adventures to the forests and nature reserves in Switzerland.
It was great to be done the bulk of the year’s work, and there were certainly a few celebrations as it was well into barbecue weather. So a few photos can capture the aspects of what my friends and I did in June, outside of the extra school work.
Flowers were in full bloom quite early, and the number of roses astonished me. As you walked through the streets you could catch little whiffs of floral scents from the various trees and shrubs in the city. I often saw locals collecting the wild flowers along the river to bring home. In this respect, the city has a thriving natural environment.
One weekend I went up to the mountains to be with Lisa, Freddi, Nora and Mia. We went up to an old ruin near Flims (along the face of the Flims stone) for lunch. There were spectacular views over the valley which was checkered with forests, farming fields, and grazing land.
I hadn’t been for a few months and it is amazing how this curious babe can change. As sweet as ever, Nora is now walking and babbling but hasn’t quite grasped her 4 languages that she is hearing (German, English, French, and the local language, Romansch), but it is coming.
The other young lady in the house is Mia. Strong-minded, bright and detail oriented, I foresee an engineer in this girl. Sigh 🙂
The two sisters- I loved how Nora stared at Mia, with full trust that the chocolate bar would end up in her mouth.
Since I have known her, Nora has loved textures. She will happily sit and feel the grass and leaves. Sometimes she finds a flower and plays with the petals.
As the weather inevitably got nicer, the get-togethers were always outside. I discovered the inner courtyard of my building and the free barbecue stove. We’ve had a couple of evenings there now, with kids and cats playing around us in the warm evenings as we enjoy out white wine spritzers and cream cheese stuffed mushrooms.
A few last photos from other days and nights.
This final one is the old viaduct into the city centre, and is now part of the bridge for the trains entering the centre. I just catch a glimpse of it from my bedroom. I hear this is being done in other cities as well, but the space below the bridge has been renovated into retail and restaurant space- very funky and a great use of prime real estate in an area full of young people and parks. Each store is numbered, to enhance the simplicity of the concept.
Following my Christmas experiences in Zurich, I headed up to the mountains for the real stuff: family!
With all 4 kids, a mountain guide, a tired ETH student, and one excited dog, my Aunt was Wonder Woman and created a truly memorable Christmas for all of us!
Christmas dinner in Switzerland is not as grand a production as in Canada. This is mainly because the tree is only decorated on the 24th (also the night of the dinner) which is a feat in itself. So after surveying most of my Swiss friends, the conclusion was that they tended to have a simpler meal on the 24th before or after opening the gifts.
Up in the mountains, we had a very cool alternative Swiss dinner- personal pizzas using the raclette grill!
Just to clarify, raclette is a traditional Swiss meal where you warm up cheese in little pans (about the size of your palm) on a communal grill in the middle of the table. The cheese is then added to bread, potatoes, or meat etc. For the pizzas, we used the little pans with fresh pizza dough, and a pile of toppings. Everyone could make them as they pleased and waiting for them to ‘cook’ built up the suspense between pieces. Yum.
In terms of gifts, Lisa maintains some Canadian traditions even after 20 or so Christmases here and so we opened the gifts on the morning of the 25th- definitely bringing back some of my favourite memories of Claire and I waking up early, opening our stockings and hanging around in pajamas until the afternoon. In the mix of presents was a Wii for the whole family! I would never have guessed how much fun/exercise you can get from some of those games! My favourite: Just Dance where you have to dance in time to some fun 80’s hits, competing against a partner. When looking at the pictures below, please note that these are not professional dancers and there were some sore bodies the following day.
A few photos to give you an idea of the fun with all 7 of us and the dog!
The town of Schluein also organized advent windows where you can do a loop through the town to see 24 windows dressed up for Christmas. Lisa and Freddi had number 19, and of course a deer had to make it in there too. Adevnt windows are a pretty common tradition and are very fun to see as you walk around.
Even though I was away from my friends and close family, it was a really special Christmas!