I spent my last days in St. Gallen, Switzerland walking through its tranquil streets, silently saying my good-byes. At the top of Guisanstrasse, I came across this woman. Fully alert, she was leaning in expectantly towards someone who was not there. Her hands were clasped fearlessly behind her against the folds of her bronze dress. Just when it seemed that I knew her every angle, she surprised me.
Sunshine, good company and the sweet smell of a freshly mowed pasture – my idea of the perfect ingredients for a leisurely Sunday hike (or wanderung in German). Plus, a great opportunity to capture the essence of a Swiss spring day for this week’s photo challenge.
Hello, spring! Hello, world!
Fabulous hiking trails, like dark chocolate and flavourful cheese, are everywhere in Switzerland. According to one website, the distance covered by hiking trails is almost as great as that covered by roads (60,000 vs 72,000 kilometres). The trails run across farm fields, through orchards and parkland, and up, down, around and even through the Alps.
Our afternoon hike took us past the Kloster Notkersegg. The monastery, nestled in the hills above the city of St. Gallen, dates back to 1381. The building we see today was completed in 1720.
The picturesque countryside is dotted with impeccable housebarns…
…and inquisitive farm animals, all meticulously cared for by farming families.
While picturesque, Switzerland’s farming community is in a state of decline. The traditional small family farms are unable to compete with the global trend towards large-scale corporate farming. Many Swiss farmers rely upon government subsidies, direct payments and protectionist food import regulations to survive. Fewer young people consider farming a viable career. The future of farming in Switzerland is uncertain.
On a day as beautiful as this one, the wise words of the Persian philosopher, mathematician and poet Omar Khayyam come to mind, “My friend, let’s not think of tomorrow, but let’s enjoy this fleeting moment of life.”
To see more signs of spring, check out other bloggers’ links here.