Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Switzerland Journal: Day 12 part 1.

Sunday May 28th, 2007
Murren Switzerland.
We awoke to overcast skies, with fog and light rain. My favorite kind of weather! Perfect weather, in my opinion, for hiking. We had purchased light weight rain gear for the trip, and by heavens, if we had to lug it this long, we were going to take this chance to use it!
It was a short walk through the village to reach the little Protestant church. I had read that in Europe the symbol of the rooster is used on church spires, instead of crosses, to remind everyone of Peter's denial, and to themselves be faithful.
(Or at least that is one explanation.)

Church had just started when we went to the back door, admiring the wood siding made of fish scale shaped shingles.

Above: The door to the church.

It was Pentecost Sunday. We didn't understand the Pastor, or the German hymns, but recognized the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed, and took Communion up front with the other fourteen congregants.

To the right of the Pastor, (who looked a bit like an older Danny Kaye) was this simple but beautiful stained glass window. I have never seen a dove symbol with the dove portrayed upright, usually the dove is situated descending. I'd be curious to know the artist's reasoning for making the dove upright.
Following the service we stepped outside, where Bernie conversed with an older woman who was an English speaking church member . She explained the sermon: Being Pentecost Sunday, the Pastor had spoken about how there were people of many languages in the church that morning; and that when people had pulled away from God and into their own abilities as in the story of the Tower of Babel, God had confused the people's ability to understand one another. On Pentecost Sunday, when people were seeking more of God, He made them all of one language.
I could say an "Amen!" to that; we knew exactly when the Lord's Prayer and Apostle's Creed were being spoken, without anyone providing translation.
I chatted with a couple from Norway. The husband regularly comes to Houston on business (small world!) and we discussed how our respective areas are doing in terms of faith. They said that Norway's state church is growing, the younger people are showing interest, and the smaller independent churches are lessening. I thought that was interesting, and would like to know more about that.

After church Bernie and I continued our walk out of town, on our way to hike the mountains. This sweet kitty was out braving the rain, comfortable in her heavy winter coat.

I began taking pictures of every kind of flower I saw. There were so many!

At the end of this post I will put a link to a web album, where if you wish, you will be able to see a slide show of all the flower and scenery pictures that I took on this hike.

This was not far from the church, down a little path from the main street. I thought it was cute, a bit cheesy, but cute. The Gnomes on the front porch railing were a colorful touch. The display was a good way to show off the classic Swiss costumes and cottage.
I have never read the book "Heidi"; on the buses there were quotes from the book in German, so I guess I should read it now that I have visited Switzerland. When we got home we rented the Shirley Temple movie version of it. I sincerely hope the book is better than that particular movie!

(Insider Tip: Look really hard at this picture and try to remember it. On Day 13, this picture will be seen again. You will be in for a surprise!)
I gawked at the rustic old building, a cow shed from long ago that probably is still in use in the winter.
Lupin was found in several gardens, the tall elegant super model cousin of our dear little Texas Bluebonnets.
The shading on the petals made me wish for my colored pencils and a pad of paper. At least I have my camera to take a picture; maybe I will draw it later.
Stopped here and stared. We are in a travel poster come to life!
Each house we passed had a little garden in front. I don't think I have ever seen such pretty bleeding hearts in person before.

The poppies were enormous, and so vibrant.

Bernie shot this picture. Someone will did a lot of wood cutting!

The rain was so light, the flowers were sparkling as if in dew.

I called these Queen Anne's Lace, as I did not know their Swiss name at the time. I liked that they were pink!
At the edge of town we had a decision to make: Which trail should we attempt? The red sign pointed up hill, to the Children's Adventure trail.
That sounded easy.
(We learned later that red meant "Experienced Hiker Trail.)

So here is where the trail began. How about those tree roots?

The climb was steep, and soon we were enjoying meadow views being muffled with ragged fog.

Sometimes there were steps. My rain gear over my jacket over a small back pack weighed very little, but I was still bent over watching my step.
Bernie was usually ahead of me; I stopped to take pictures of everything. Oh I wish I was back hiking up that trail again!
Wild viola, also known as Alpine Pansy.

Yellow violets. Later I saw lavender ones too.
Fields of Forget-me-nots.
Koch's Gentian. (My great great grandmother was a Koch.)

PINK forget-me -nots! There was just one single patch of pink ones; fields and fields of blue ones. I wonder if pink is a common variation that I had just missed knowing about before.

A tree above a stream that had moss growing on it's bare branches. It reminded me of our Spanish moss.

The little barns on the hillside meadows peeking in and out of the fog charmed me no end.
I mentioned in an early posting that the Swiss army is very vigilant about defending Switzerland. Just before we came to the pass pictured below, we went by a deserted remains of a recent campfire, and above the area was this camouflaged defense station. From that location it was possible to see across a small valley, and a bridge, so it would make a good watch point. A tree had recently been cut down, we could tell it would have obstructed the view.

We were on a the Children's Adventure Trail, although I would say it would take some pretty stalwart children to hike up to reach the "adventures." Most of the play areas would have cause much concern in America as being far too dangerous or risky. We certainly didn't try the huge log teeter totter or log bridge over a rushing river.
The zip line looked pretty harmless though. I egged Bernie to give it a whirl. He pulled it up to the top of the rise, and dutifully waited for me to get my camera ready before he hitched himself up on the disk and began to tear down the line.
This picture was snapped about one second into the ride (it was UNBELIEVABLY FAST), and about a nano second before my brain pointed out that I was standing directly in the path of the zip line, and that Bernie was going to have to crash into me if I didn't get out of the way.
I didn't get out of the way fast enough.
He tried to dismount, and stop, but it really was impossible. A half a second after I snapped the picture he crashed into me full force, knocking me off my feet, and causing both me and my camera to fly several feet down the way. I hit the ground hard, and watched in horror as my camera continued to tumble down the hillside, bouncing along towards a rushing stream.
Luckily it caught on a little ridge of grass, otherwise it would have gone ker-plunk and you would not be seeing all these wonderful pictures today.
Note to self: NEVER stand directly in the path of a zip line with a six foot three inch 200 plus pound man riding on it, headed your way. Not even for a picture!
We were very, very fortunate that neither of us were seriously hurt.

After that, we stuck to sedate hiking as our means of adventure.

Spring Gentian; they were a lovely shade of blue and plentiful.

I loved this little Alpine garden growing up in the crevice. Nature designed garden!

A crest along the path.
I'm still here! I'm turning around to take a picture behind us....

This was behind us.

The blue color of Koch's Gentian is stunning.

The area pine cones looked like this, they were about as long as your hand.
A dry river of pine cones!

(Sing along) "The Hills are Alive....with the Sound of Music..."
Or at least cowbells in the distance.
"The Sound of Music" movie took place in Austria, but it was hard not to burst out singing with views like this one.

Knee deep in wild flowers!

A bit of moss festooning a fur tree.
Aww...a heart carved on the barn door. How sweet.

We had to wonder just how old the picturesque building actually were. The notches at the end of the boards on this mountain pasture building sure looked hand hewn to me.

The fog almost seemed to be swaying in a slow romantic dance down the mountainside.

My curiosity got the better of me. I tried the door, but it was locked. The window next to it was had a shutter held closed with a simple wooded latch. I went ahead and opened it.
Inside the window there was a large spider web and a cleaned out barn.

Another window had this view.

The hike back down to Murren.

One of my favorite flower pictures, I like the design at the flower's base.
We saw a few cows on our hike, none of them were the soft malted shade of cow that is traditionally associated with Switzerland. I later read that the Swiss subsidize their dairy farmers heavily and the children of each family often have a bit of a "work through" to decide who will inherit the herd. The Swiss themselves do not do the herding or mountainside milking, instead they hire hippie types or people from less expensive countries to come live up in the mountains with the cows during the summer. It is during the summer while in the inaccessible mountain meadows that cheese is manufactured; during the winter while the cows are in barns the milk is easily transported out daily.
This part of the path was easy, we were getting closer to town.

It was just below here that I thought to record how all the bird song that was around us. Click here to access a web album single shot with the sound. Be sure to have your sound turned up to hear the birdsong, and Bernie asking me what I'm doing, and me whispering back. Wish I had done a video up in the mountains with cowbells in the background. Kate, can I count on you to catch it and post it on your blog?
The flowers were pastel lovely in the rain.

Several of the buildings had fairly large rocks on their roofs. They were big enough that I can't imagine them being there accidentally. What do they hold down?

This was a very large barn, in a field of silvery-leaved milfoil, what I had first called Queen Anne's Lace.

I love Bernie's photography. He has a great eye for composition, and his pictures are so strong and masculine compared to mine. What a joy to have him taking pictures too.
As this picture was taken I was remembering how it felt to be surrounded by the Texas wild bluebonnets, and thinking how lovely it was to be surrounded by Swiss wild flowers. Somewhere there is a picture of me as a child surrounded by California poppies; someday I would like to make a collage of all the pictures I have of myself kneeling in a sea of wildflowers.
I'm never happier than when surrounded by wild flowers!
If I had to name a favorite time in the entire trip, I'd have to say this was it. Hiking in the cool mountain air, surrounded by fog and flowery meadows, beautiful rustic buildings, cow bells clanging in the distance, snow capped mountains, with just Bernie and I alone on the trail enjoying every moment and everything.
We took many more pictures during the hike. Rather than blog them one by one, I've put them on a web album, where they can be enjoyed as a slide show in a couple of minutes. You can view the web album by clicking here.
Being a little wary of Blogger right now, so I'm just going to post this as Switzerland Journal: Day 12, part 1. Tomorrow I'll post what we did in the afternoon!


Kate said...

Love your wildflowers! Now, I really, REALLY want to go to Muerren! Will try to catch those cowbells for you. K Q:-)

Lovella ♥ said...

That was just the morning. Spectacular. Just so jealous.

I found it so interesting that most of the flowers that you captured with your camera are the very same that we have here. Bleeding hearts just like that, queens anne lace growing wild right now. Forget me nots and the others are all blooming here . .now, our climates must be similar.
Oh I'm so glad I took a peek before the picture dissapear. I hope they won't.

Lovella ♥ said...

I listened to the birds. Oh, how sweet and the whispers . . .I love it.
The web album is amazing. I would really encourage everyone reading your blog to have another look at the pictures.. I can see where it must have been very hard to select the ones to use in the post. So amazing.

Julie said...

Definitely my favorite day/morning!
To me Switzerland has to be the mountains and hiking in them. You captured your day so beautifully.. I caught my breath when you glad you were not hurt!
I can't believe you never read 'Heidi'? They were by far my favorite books growing up, but I'm not sure you can 'enter in' as an would never be the same.
I'm coming back tomorrow to listen to your bird (Vic's asleep) and look at your photo album...It's 2 am and I need to go to bed. But I had to come see if you had posted another day.
I think when I am very old and the line between real and imaginary wavers , I will declare with strong conviction that I have truly been to Switzerland!!
Thank you again, for sharing your trip with those of us who have not had the privilege of being there.

Kate said...

Waaaaaaaaaah! Still can't see those cheeses or the mouse. Must gawk since I've added another 2 kilos. Arghghgh. Time for another hike today. Otherwise, Switzerland is sehr fattening. K Q:-)

P.S. Love that irritated Amsel shot!