Yes, the paua shell picture has gone from the top of the page  – and a forest carpeted with bärlauch appeared. The significance:  we have gone from NZ  to a Swiss Spring.  I’ve put a page about bärlauch up (in the list above the picture) – and if I can follow the instructions through my jetlag-fuzzed brain I might even manage to create a direct link.  You’ll see whether I’ve succeeded!

There’s a phrase here which translates as  “real April weather”, by which they mean extremely variable. Well, it’s May by the calendar, but April by the weather. It works for me! A couple of glorious days to welcome us and reward us for the tedium and discomfort of 48 hours in transit – and now a rainy day  to encourage me to the laptop.

Clever WordPress (who host this blog) are good at encouraging me to keep going too, through provoking such feedback as this from the witty Mary Cresswell.

 I just LOVE the Word Press response: Thank you for following “Carolyn   Lane” Sounds like the beginning of a thriller, the kind where “Carolyn Lane” is actually snappy, snazzy Carolyn   Lane, forensic optometrist with a black belt in Kung Fu, called in by the police whenever they can’t see their way to a solution… It’s all in the quotation marks, I think…

Now there’s a persona I’d like to live up to! Mary’s a fine writer  who’s recently published a couple of books of poetry. There’s  “Nearest and Dearest”  which is wry, funny (sometimes darkly so), satirical verse and  parodies,  and  “Trace Fossils”  which was awarded 1st runner-up for the inaugural Kathleen Gratton Award (Uni of Otago).  It’s rather more serious observations and reflections on “memory and loss”  in language that’s sometimes richly surprising, often funny.  Very Mary!  www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Cresswell,%20Mary

Back to the Spring.  Down here by the lake, it’s well-sprung. Some fruit-trees are still flowering, but the dandelions are getting fluffy-headed. Here, dandelions and other field-flowers are not seen as weeds but as herbs, and the farmers don’t take the first cut of spring grass until they’ve flowered and seeded – and until the town-dwellers have had a chance to “make a blüstfahrt” (a drive to look at the blossom).

A Fischreiher (heron) stalks in a fresh-cut field near our place

We drove up into Appenzell to visit a friend, and as we wound up the hills we

typical Appenzell topography

wound back through spring-time, until some trees were just budding.  There’s still plenty of snow a little higher, surviving from a late dump in March which was not entirely melted by a föhn storm of hot wind from the Sahara which wooshed through a couple of weeks ago.

Birke (Birch) trees fresh-leafed among the evergreen Tannenbaum

A patch of wild primroses by the roadside

It was a hard winter, cold and long.  Our garden bears witness.  My pots of  alpine strawberries – those small wild sweet ones – survived the previous winter and last year gave us fruit every day from spring to autumn. But this winter has killed them, along with the rosemary that had also survived several previous winters.  People don’t take the risk with precious cold-tender plants: those live in pots that can be shifted into the basement to over-winter. Likewise, our huge diplodena which climbs up the veranda post goes off to the garden centre for its winter holiday.

The locals had become accustomed to milder winters though and planted things like fig-trees, which would have been unimaginable in Mani’s youth.  Oh dear.  The one I picked fruit from last year is very dead.

Over-wintering has been challenging for our gang too.   Mani’s older brother Hans has been poorly, friend Werner from the daily card-playing ritual is minus a kidney, and friend Margrit was suddenly discovered to have a tumour  pressing on her heart – fortunately benign – and sports a dramatic scar.  It was Margrit we went to visit in the hills.

Mani, Margrit and Roman – bracing mountain air is part of the “cure”

  Convalescence and recovery is a big and serious business here:  no leaping out of hospital and off home to get on with it!  Margrit will have at least three weeks in a clinic with gymnasium, pool and a strict daily programme of monitoring, exercise and walks in the mountain air.  The huge amounts people pay (must pay, it is not optional) for health insurance fund an industry which has long traditions of towns and regions specialising in various “cures”.    Think Katherine Mansfield…

Mani and I look at each other and repeat our mantras about seizing every day – not putting off till tomorrow – doing it now!

So, let me rise to my personal challenge and publish this page.

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