It’s been exactly seven years since I’ve been to Switzerland. Seven years since I’ve been in the house my mother grew up in, seven years since I’ve been able to see my Grosi [grandmother], seven years since I’ve been able to eat her fresh baked Zupfé, seven years since I’ve been able to collect fresh eggs from the coop, seven years since I’ve hiked the trails, seven years since I’ve been able to watch the sunset over the mountains.
If it was up to me, I would have returned long before now, but college finances certainly do have their way delaying trips of this sort. Yet, as my college graduation and move to Asia drew close, my parents decided that returning this year was a necessity. So in August, I flew from my current home in Indonesia and met my family in Switzerland.
It’s odd how memory and experience have a way of altering your perspective. I’ve been to Switzerland many times in my life, but this time everything seemed brand new. Seven years ago, I was by no means a photographer or cinematographer, but after just graduating from film school, I saw everything through a whole new lens, no pun intended. Arriving at my Grosi’s house, instantly I was fascinated by how light constantly danced throughout her house. Her house is in a very small village, Wiler, which among vast farmland, encircled by the Alps. It was truly Light’s playground, which radiated from the cascading white mountains, golden fields, leaves of the trees, and through every piece of frosted glass. Everything was beautiful, all the time.
I know everyone says this about there grandmother but seriously, my Grosi is the most INCREDIBLE cook. It’s not just the massive amounts of butter and French-Italian fusion that contributes towards her amazing cuisine, its the ingredients. Almost everything she cooks comes from her garden, chicken coop, local bakery or one of the neighbouring farms. Every night, she would serve fresh vegetables, salads, and piping hot bread along side various bottles of wine. Together we would all lay back and watch the sunset through the frosted glass of her back porch. It was utter bliss.
At the end of the week, Switzerland had its National Independence Day. It’s funny, this is the second year I’ve been out of the states for our own Independence Day, yet I still seem to find the most spectacular and exciting equivalents. For the Swiss Independence Day, the whole village, a whopping 200 people, gathered in the town centre for food and what seemed like an endless supply of beer. After everyone had their full, all the children gathered and were given large flaming torches. Throughout my travels, especially in Southeast Asia, I’ve seen a lot of wild things, but seeing a six year old carry a massive flaming torch, was quite the spectacle.
The whole town paraded together to the surrounding fields, and waiting the children’s arrival was the biggest mound of wood and brush I’ve every seen. Away from all electricity, in the middle of the cascading farmlands, everything was pitch dark except the massive fire that laid before us. Most watched in awe as the flames grew and sparks added to the plentiful stars in the sky. The children added to the spectacle, and began set off fireworks, a few of which I had to dodge. As I took a moment to look out to the encompassing darkness, I saw the same celebratory fires and festivity from the surrounding towns.