Thursday, 30 September 2010

They'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

So imagine you are a Canadian girl who has a weird obsession with Swiss cows.

The obsession began long ago, in 2007, when she stepped off her first mountain train and heard the 'clang, clang, clang' of those brass bells, as the cows were munching on the tender spears of alpine blades. Imagine you turned to your (then) boyfriend (now husband) and exclaimed:

"OH MY GOD! That's the best sound I've ever heard!"

And you meant it.

Then you actually *saw* the cows, and they didn't look anything like the cows you are used to in your part of Canada. Namely because most of the alpine creatures you saw were milking mothers and not beef bovines.

It was official: you were obsessed.

During your hikes you have seen them driven to higher pastures; you have seen an older man on his three legged stool milk his herd of five, carefully pouring the frothy cream into tin pails; you have seen families in their old jeeps, piled into the car with the morning milk pails carefully secured in a trailer attached to the jeep, as they bump down the mountain and into the village to the milk station; you have seen the cheese huts, where the morning milk isn't rattled down the mountain but rather kept on site, poured into giant copper vats, bacteria cultures are added, and cheese making begins.

You see where your milk is coming from; you see where your cheese is coming from; and at some mountain farms you can also see where your butter is coming. And as heard clanging around the mountain meadows, you can see the source of this bounty.

How could you not be obsessed?

So can you imagine it? Can you imagine you're this girl?

Okay, great. Now imagine you're this girl, and you find out that it is a Swiss tradition that these cows (and sheep and goats) after their summer of dining alfresco in mountain meadows, are driven down the mountain in traditional fashion: flowers on their heads, show bells around their necks, farmers and shepherds costumed as they bring--in high fashion--their charges to the valley for winter boarding.


Because this girl sure did.

Two weeks ago (maybe it was three? Or four? Where does the time go??) I heard that there was going to be a farmer's festival in Bern, and the procession would include one family's herd of cows being marched from the mountain and through the streets of Bern to parliament, for it was in parliament square that the farmer's festival was happening.

Then I remembered I had a doctors appointment the same day.


I couldn't check out much of the farmer's festival, but I did get to briefly see the cows and I was excited about that.

But before I get to the pictures, I want to elaborate on something that I thought was really cool: the cow procession was literally one Bernese family's herd; there were only about twelve cows in total. Hundreds of people lined the street to see these twelve cows, in all their finery, march to their pen in front of the parliament building. Then as I was frantically trying to take pictures, it struck me that this farmer's festival was happening a cow patty away from Switzerland's national governing house. That, to me, was really cool. One little family was chosen to represent the entire region, and they got to do so in the shadow of their nation's capital. I guess why I thought this was so cool is because at that moment I fully realized how accessible Switzerland is. I haven't been able to fully put my finger on what it is I like so much about this country, but if I had to choose a word it would be that: accessible.

So on with the pictures. I was able to squeeze myself in the crowd at the very end of the procession--right near the pens.

Traditional jacket, and piercing.

Traditional dress and glasses.
Traditional jacket and piercing.

Traditional H&M jeans.

Ready for the ball.

The not-so-ugly stepsisters.

Little cow poke.

The ladies promenade.

Waiting to be received at the palace (parliament) steps.

Waiting for head dress to be removed.

Bells and ornaments

The shepherd counts his herd.

Filling the water trough.

You can lead a cow to water...

Tradition... pretty.

Little Heidi girl...

...represents her family, her culture, her country.

See you next summer cows!

Looking forward to taking another three hundred pictures of you in your mountain meadows!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

An Affair to Remember

The summer fling.

Have you ever had one? Those long days of dripping ice cream, toes in the sand, leaping from rope swings into cold water. Campfires, marshmallows, feeling like you're on the best ride in the park.

Then September.

Goodbyes are said, promises to write. To keep in touch. But nothing looks the same as it does under summer sunlight. A 2D love story becomes 3D and you don't like depth.

Maybe next summer....

Brace yourselves, but I had a summer fling. Flings, really. And now it's all over. Ended for another summer. If you've read my 'About' tab, this summer infatuation isn't a surprise. Heck, if you've paid attention to my (poorly designed) banner, it can be no mystery of what I speak.

If you're Dan, my obsession was maddening. We couldn't hike or walk anywhere without meeting the object(s) of my affection.

Luckily though, I took lots of pictures to remember what a beautiful summer it was, and tomorrow I'll tell you why it all had to come to an end.

(turn on your speakers)
Do you think they'll write?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sunday in Bern

Sunday morning I woke up in the best mood. Maybe it was because of all that pizza I had for dinner on Saturday? At any rate, I felt like singing. And then when I whipped opened the shutters and saw the sun shining, it was determined: I was going to be annoyingly chipper that day, and nothing could stop me.

Our original planned Sunday excursion was to do a really long walk along the Aare and end up in some village near Thun. As we walked down Bern's main drag (me with my camera firmly glued to my eye) towards the bear park and the beginning of our walk, I just felt like I could pop open at the seams and rainbows would shoot out of my fingertips or something. I WAS IN A GOOD MOOD. Grumpy people would have wanted to keep a clear ten foot radius from me, because I honestly thought I could probably rub my sleeve on their face and have my good mood rub off on them.

And that mood just kept getting better the more autumn colours that I saw. And when we approached the bear park, and hung over the bridge staring at Finn for awhile,...

...I realized I didn't actually want to leave Bern that Sunday. I wanted to keep to the cobblestoned streets and soak up the urban landscape for a change.

Bern is such a beautiful city, and when you have apple crisp sunlight painting the town golden, it is difficult to imagine being anywhere else in Switzerland that would be as beautiful. So we stayed to the city streets, we explored new neighbourhoods, and my good mood deepened as I took picture after bright picture of the autumn and city colours.


You guys better watch it, because I also happen to be in another fab mood today. There's a good chance I may point my finger in your direction, and rainbows of happiness will hit you in the face and knock you to the ground.

You'll have no choice but to smile.