Remembrances Of Switzerland
Bits and Pieces
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, March 23, 2015
Mission accomplished…. . Having dealt with two major losses within one year, my sister desperately needed a change of pace. It took me two months to convinced her to come with me to sunny Palm Beach.
Two months in Geneva was too long – two months was not enough. No matter how you slice it- you want more – you’ve had enough.
It took time to slow my engine down. Coming from hyper paced New York City to placid Geneva I learned to move at a snail’s pace. You open your eyes to see things you’ve missed.
Take the Plain Trees. Plain trees are particularly suited for city planting, as they don’t shed bark! Instead they peel as they grow, shedding paper-thin bits of their outer skin, giving the stems a freckled look. They are ubiquitous in every city. In New York, they are primarily pissoires for dogs. In Geneva they take on certain majesty. For one thing, they are pollarded*. This process gives the trees abundant energy to rejuvenate during the winter and burst forth with clusters of branches and leaves that form a dense umbrella for shade. As their growth is stunted vertically, they develop impressive trunks, some as much as three feet in diameter. The pruned stubs of the branches are knurly and picturesque (or gross, however you look at them).
*Pollarding is a pruning system in which the upper branches of a tree are removed, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches. It has been common in Europe since medieval times.
In Geneva one could take the time out to smell the roses. They grew prolifically along the paths of the Lake. No more! Eco minded Genovese, have found that the fertilizer required to keep them in bloom was polluting their lake. (American communities take note!)
Girls: I am an expert in observing beautiful ladies. While the rest of the world worships blonds, Geneva is the Mecca for lovely brunettes.
If Genovese ladies take to the bottle (hair dyes, that is) they seem to prefer auburn tints to blond.
Swiss industrial buildings are a joy to behold. Drive along the well groomed Swiss Throughways and you’ll see gems of contemporary designs; not just box architecture dressed with surface graphics, but factories thoroughly innovative from the ground up.
A modern factory outside of Bulle in the Swiss Alps
(While in my last Blog I lamented new developments as the desecrators of the countryside. Here are some buildings that I admire.)
You might not think of the Swiss as particularly colorful, but I have found beautiful use of color in their modern architecture.
The Bulle bypass
The Swiss have always been master tunnel and bridge builders. Driving into the mountains, the small towns along the way have built impressive bypass roads and tunnels that move congesting traffic out of their picturesque main streets. Their costs are extravagant, but the Swiss are long-range planners
ROOFS AND CHIMNEYS
On my daily walks, I noticed things often overlooked while driving. I became enthralled with Geneva’s turn of the century buildings; their gabled roofs and the amusing chimneys that grew out of them.
Geneva has managed to bury its unsightly telephone wires. The wiring is neatly packaged in decorated junction boxes.
Geneva can boast the most Eco friendly public transportation system. All their buses and trams are clean air electric. The bi-product: a spider’s web of electric wiring overhead… but their trams and buses are streamlined and modern. All silently gliding through the city.
I could not leave Switzerland without my ‘Ode to the Mountains.’ This is where I find peace and happiness. It is where Erica and I “sat out” 9/11 when all flights were canceled to the USA; It’s where we skied, summered, brought up kids, and recharged our batteries. It is the home of fondues and aged mountain cheese. In the springtime, the air is perfumed with freshly spread manure (an aroma that is an acquired taste) and in summer, there is nothing like the smell of fresh-cut hay.
A photo out of the picture window above and my sketch below
This is the end of my Swiss sermon (But I already have my return ticket.)
And now back in the US of A… It has been a hoot entertaining my sister in the Florida sunshine. She has just returned home to her beloved dogs, refreshed and well rested.
Clowning around with the family in the Key Lime Restaurant in Lantana, near Palm Beach
Left to right: Matt, Isabelle visiting from England, Vladi, Tanya, Gigi in front, in back: Capt. Hook, Vanessa and Olivia