Before the last snowflake melts

I thought I should share a few last impressions before spring comes sweeping in.

And you know what spring can bring… and if the past is any indication at all of what the future entails, it’s about to get pretty seriously crazy.

We let loose over New Year’s in Lenzerheide Switzerland, where the snow was fresh, deep and still falling. Snow angels, snow fights, snow rolling, sledding, digging, building, musing, watching, listening. It was pure joy. We even stuck our heads in to try some headstands. On New Year’s eve we sent up paper lanterns to bring us good luck in 2012.

I am wishing for peace and meaning this year, and starting off the year with close friends and family was a good, although intense, place to begin. As I work on searching for some of my basic feelings, those sticky disruptive ones, that bring me deep within myself to feel the rhythm and energy, I am learning to let go and trust that they will lead me in the right direction even when they seem in contradiction to the personality that I imagine myself to be.

It’s a new road with, what feels like, a whole lot of snow. Good thing I have a strong Aunt who is good with a shovel!

More snow fell up in Schluein than I have ever experienced in my whole long Canadian life. It was wet and thick and presented such a tempting challenge just to walk through… even though the clear intention was to get stuck and have to roll around even more in it. Mia, Nora, Tilmann, the dog Ruby and I spent an afternoon playing and digging to our heart’s delight, until we had a 3-part tunnel and a serious snowball fight completed.

Note that the tree behind Lisa and Tilmann in the above pictures is the same one… just a few hours later in the second picture after the sun came out and the snow plow also came to clear the driveway.

pure mischief preceding the 3 tongues

Back in Zurich, there were a few crystals of frost that would briefly change the light of the city, creating a sparkle in the mornings where the shade would linger while the green would strive hard to fight back.

The warm sun has certainly arrived in Zurich, but I’ll still be dreaming of the winter wonderland in the mountains for a while still.

warm fireplaces, old stories, and other essentials of a German Christmas

I celebrated Christmas this year for the first time in Southern Germany with Tilmann’s family.

A long 10 days of sleeping in until noon (I didn’t even know I had that skill), walking the happy dog in the misty hills, frequent coffee and cake breaks shortly followed by dinner, wine, stories, and games in the evening.

10 adults in total. Full-on German immersion. Thank goodness I was in wine country.

It was just my luck that Tilmann’s family is particularly traditional at Christmas. I was swept into the festivities, and here are a few of the highlights from that part of the world:

– Tree lights are often still delicate little candles in special holders.
My instincts tell me that wood is a common fuel for fire, but my ‘danger danger!’ face was told to trust in tradition…. and that only ‘a few’ accidents happen every year. Hold onto your cats and small children.

We went to Christmas Mass on the 24th. Immediately on coming home, we had to wait (im)patiently outside the living room for the tree candles to be lit for the first time (the tree is also only set up on the 24th). Upon the ringing of a bell we were allowed to enter and be absorbed into the warmth of the candle light. Carols were sung, presents were exchanged and then Christmas dinner was happily eaten.

– No traditional Christmas meal.
Believe it or not, North America has a long-standing tradition that doesn’t exist and (possibly) didn’t originate in Europe. 1 point North Am! We got 2 raclette ovens going and had an amazing session of grilling, melting, seasoning, and stuffing (ourselves that is). We heart cheese. Typical additions to the melted cheese: potatoes, mushrooms, onions, corn, pickles, beets. And of course meat, if you are into that sort of thing (see below on the effects of Christmas drinks).

– A few Christmas Carols that I know are also sung in German. Oh Holy Night, and Oh Christmas Tree, of course (Tannenbaum!)
Unbeknownst to us beforehand, this provided some nice bonding moments as I sang in English and tried to compete with the 3 singing sisters in German. No chance.

– Christmas markets never get old, unless they are of the medieval kind!
We went to a nearby town to check out the traditional market, as well as the completely authentic middle age market. I was already high on the beautiful style of the buildings surrounding the market. And then we stepped into the medieval market full of fire torches, wood stove baking, traditional leather and metal workers, and even a wood-heated hot tub wherein you could watch the crowds as they passed through. We got to try out archery, egg tossing, and plenty of mead as well, to keep the spirits high.

The mead might make you do crazy things though…. the 1-metre long sausages become very tempting for a vegetarian. Tilmann’s sister couldn’t resist.

The time in Germany passed easily, as we enjoyed a deeper sense of gratitude for having each other together that year.

And the dog appreciated a dance partner for his waltz to, of course, the Nutcracker Suite!