Sunday, August 17, 2008
When you can't see anything it pays to listen
If you haven't had the chance to visit Switzerland, you might be surprised to know that the cows there really do wear cow bells. Take a walk in the countryside or relax on my mother-in-law's porch at dusk and the only sound you hear is the distant melody created by their movement. I find it charming but I understand that city folk, upon moving to the country, often complain about the background music. I don't know why, but for some reason the sounds of a place always stick with me as much as the visuals and the people I meet, and when I think of Switzerland the sound of cow bells in the early evening always comes to mind.
We had just one chance to get to the mountains on this trip and unfortunately the day was quite cloudy up on the mountain -- although brilliantly sunny below. We went all the way to the top anyway because the getting there is so much fun. We took an inclined train (actually, the world's steepest funicular railway) to the half-way point and then a cable car to the very top. The kids were in heaven and so was I. Walking around on the top of a very tall mountain (This one was about 1922 meters -- small by Swiss standards) surrounded by clouds and beautiful alpine flowers is quite remarkable. Occasionally the clouds would skirt around the sun giving us a breathtaking view of the world below and those glimpses of Lake Lucerne below and the distant peaks of snow covered mountains were like little treasures.
On this particular trip, as we skirted around the top of the mountain looking for the trail to the town below, I took a video of sound. You might have to turn the volume on your computer way up, but for me, this is Switzerland. And it also tells the story of those cow bells.