winter

Crevasse

The way the clouds hang

light in a heavy sky

ragged fragments of white

at midday, bluegrey thunderhead

harsh mountains behind

stippled in snow and ice, 

unwelcoming

chimney smoke that will never be mine

I fit myself into a crevasse

thinking I’d weather a few more years

unexpected avalanche

tore at the façade

shattered fragments in mud, 

sharp so you cut yourself, 

cold

and I

will never forget the trails I ran alone

although fearful

it’s already a dream

of something left behind

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Glarus #26Cantons52Weeks

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Canton: Glarus

Destination: Braunwald / Glarnerland

Special guest: Cath

Cool thing: Glarus has one of the funkiest coat of arms of any canton –featuring this cool dude, Saint Fridolin of Säckingen – an Irish missionary who spread the good word (ahem) in the Rhineland during the 6th or 7th century

 

Happy New Year! 

This post kicks off my “26 Cantons in 52 Weeks Challenge” where I’m attempting to visit each canton of Switzerland throughout 2017. I was hoping to go alphabetically or in some sort of logical order (by geographical size, population, altitude or when each canton joined the federation etc) but in none of those lists does Glarus come top. It’s just a nearby canton with a mountain that seemed like a good one to visit right after New Year’s while our friend Cath was in town.

So – Glarus!  Conveniently located a 45 minute drive from where we live in Zurich, the Braunwald in Glarnerland is a pretty mountain area just up from Glarus’ capital city, also called Glarus. The city of Glarus looked very attractive as we drove through it, but sadly we didn’t have time to stop.

The Braunwald was a new mountain for us (hence the appeal). It contained the usual assortment of cable cars, Bergrestaurants and stunning vistas. Unfortunately there was almost no snow! Up until this point, it has been a rather disappointing winter for skiiers and snow bunnies. We saw quite a number of people making the best of it, gritting their teeth and playing games of cards on the terrasses of their chalets while there. We did feel a bit sorry for them – you would have expected guaranteed snow in the first week of January in Switzerland at over 1,000 meters above sea level! I bet they were relieved when it started snowing the next day and there’s been plenty more snowfall pretty much ever since.

Anyway, it was good for us, as we had snow-free roads to get there, non-slippery paths to walk and even some nice green grass. We arrived at Glarus Nord and parked near the station (from here up it’s all car-free) so we caught a cable car up to the Braunwald (1256m above sea level). Then another cable car to Grotzenbüel (1559m) where we ate our lunch. We were kicking ourselves though, because if we’d spotted the path to walk five minutes further along, we could have gone all the way up to Gumen at 1901m! You start to become an altitude snob on these trips.

Anyway, it was lovely. Taking people up mountains is probably one of our favourite things to do with visitors, so I imagine we’ll have a fair few of these sort of trips in the year’s challenge. I also like the idea of having a special guest on some/all occasions! In this case, Cath got a respectable dose of the Swiss alpine experience, we had some lovely sunshine and all got a very decent “mountain high”.

One canton down, 25 to go!

Winter Wonderland

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It’s been snowing for four days straight in Zurich and it looks so pretty! Wow, the huge picture-windows of our apartment really come into their own right now. We can laze around in a post-Xmas haze watching the snowflakes fall, float and flurry from all different angles. Which is pretty much all I’ve been doing. At the risk of sounding lame: it’s quite magical.

Despite living in Europe for 8 years, I’m still a relative novice when it comes to snow. This stuff is light and fluffy but DEEP now: 20-30cms where it sits undisturbed on top of fences and cars (including ours, which seems to be the only one in the street that hasn’t moved since the snow started!) What I didn’t realise is how it also piles up so tall on tree branches; it looks like a scene from one of those soft-glitter Christmas cards. Whatever divine designer sketched out winter trees to be dark and leafless during snowfalls really had the right idea. Very stylish in black and white! At night it’s not as dark because of all the whiteness around… maybe that was part of the idea too. To brighten up those long winter evenings. heh.

Even the snowfall itself – so much gentler than rain. The flakes hang softer in the air, tumbling downward but also sideways, circling and eddying about. They’re bigger than raindrops – pure-white dust bunnies or feather fluffs -and it feels like you can almost see each individual one. Sometimes a gust of wind will throw a thick white shower off the trees, it’s like powder or dry ice skooting along the pavements and gusting past street lights.

Snow is weird though – because suddenly there’s all this extra… stuff… in piles around the neighbourhood. Like, how can the world produce all this additional substance coated over everything? And when it melts it’s just kind of … gone. Maybe I’m not making much sense. But what else is like snow?

Part of me feels as though I should be making more of it. Taking P out to build snowmen and go sledding (HI just bought a sled so we’ll ride the hills of the chuchgrounds opposite our place over the NYE / weekend break) but the snow is still falling, it’s slippy out there and my centre of gravity’s completely thrown by the baby bump right now. (I’m not just being paranoid about snow danger: even trams are coming off icy rails and careening into our local supermarket!) So I think we’ll just stay put and enjoy the spectacle. The pics really don’t do it justice.