Beauty in Black and White

It has been at least twenty-five years since I discovered a Swiss art-form called paper-cutting or Scherenschnitte. And now I’ve discovered a new Swiss paper-cutter, Marc Schweizer, who’s about to have a show of his work in the Alps. Although the Chinese had already been making paper-cuts for at least 1500 years, the craft didn’tContinue reading “Beauty in Black and White”

Thou and I Will See Him Dine

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Good King Wenceslas.” It has a rousing, easy-to-sing melody and tells a dramatic story.  I especially like the verse in which, with each step, the king’s feet heat the ground, melting the snow and leaving a warm place where his page can walk. But what I could neverContinue reading “Thou and I Will See Him Dine”

What Do We Mean By Old?

When I was fourteen, my family moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to West Vancouver, British Columbia. In those days, Gastown, the historic district of Vancouver, was starting to fill with interesting shops and hip restaurants, and my parents sometimes took my sister and me there for dinner. Although I found Gastown fun, I couldContinue reading “What Do We Mean By Old?”

Hunting (and Eating) Game

In Bern, as in many parts of the world, autumn is the season of cool, crisp air, golden light, falling leaves—and hunting. But here it isn’t just the hunters who get to enjoy the meat they bring down: venison steaks are for sale in local grocery stores.  As far as I’m concerned, though, the bestContinue reading “Hunting (and Eating) Game”

The Birth and Death of the Aare

When I first came to live in Bern in January 1987, only two months had passed since the Rhine had been disastrously polluted by a fire in a Sandoz warehouse on the river’s bank in the Swiss city of Basel. The water used to put out the fire had caused huge quantities of dangerous chemicalsContinue reading “The Birth and Death of the Aare”

Swiss Women’s Rights: What Happened?

In 1869, the territory of Wyoming (population less than 10,000) gave white women the right to vote. The first country to grant suffrage to women (including Maoris) was New Zealand, in 1893. Later came Australia (1902), Norway (1906), Great Britain and Ireland (1918), Germany (1918) and the US (1920), among others. A few more atContinue reading “Swiss Women’s Rights: What Happened?”

Telling Swiss Farmers What to Do

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t know who or what to vote for. “Undecided” is not a category I ever find myself in, at least not when it comes to politics. On June 13, however, Switzerland is voting on two initiatives that would force Swiss farmers to give up pesticide, and I don’tContinue reading “Telling Swiss Farmers What to Do”

A Garden for the Dead

At the risk of seeming morbid, I wanted to return to my favorite place for walks, the Schosshalde Cemetery. On March 30th, I wrote about how most Swiss graves last for only twenty years, before they are filled with another generation’s coffins and urns. But I didn’t tell you how beautifully tended those temporary gravesContinue reading “A Garden for the Dead”

Ten Little Piggies Went to Market…or?

Every spring, at least one litter of piglets is born in the large enclosure for wild boars between the Aare river and the Dählhölzli forest.  When I walked along the river path beside the zoo today, I joined the crowd of parents holding up small children to see the antics of ten tiny furred andContinue reading “Ten Little Piggies Went to Market…or?”