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”

Cheese: One of the Basic Swiss Food Groups

“A big bowl of hot boiled potatoes and some cheese? For fifty people?” Peter’s and my wedding had been in the US. Now my in-laws wanted to give a buffet dinner for us in Bern, to celebrate with Swiss family and friends. When Peter told me the main course, I was . . . well,Continue reading “Cheese: One of the Basic Swiss Food Groups”

National Memories, Myths and Memes

Today, the first of August, is the Swiss equivalent of the Fourth of July, similarly celebrated with picnics, firework displays and speeches by local and national politicians. Swiss families gather with their neighbors at village-sponsored breakfasts or evening fish fries, and the huge bonfires lit on local hills are visible for miles. Already for daysContinue reading “National Memories, Myths and Memes”

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”