At an exrtemely rudimentary estimate, I have spent about 10,800 hours with my lass since she’s been born. This includes time we’ve not been physically together but I’ve been more or less on call (like when she’s asleep in her room) but obviously not the times she’s been babysat (such as our wedding) or when I’ve been away (that heavenly trip to Dublin). I am, undoubtedly, her primary carer and have spent more time with her than anyone else by a long shot. I know what makes her giggle (any exaggerated walk, a random spin, tickles under the chin), the circumstances under which she’s going to lose it (when she sees her toothbrush, when she’s not allowed to play with my phone, and just this last week – for no apparent reason – breakfast), her favourite foods (avocado, egg, smoked salmon, any berry), and her favourite books (thank goodness no longer ‘What the Jackdaw Saw‘. I’d had way more than enough). And yet, somehow, when Tim had to head back to Australia for the week my first instinct was that I wasn’t going to be able to manage her, that I was poorly qualified and ill-equipped for the job. Of course that’s completely ridiculous and we’ve been absolutely fine; our days have been much as they always are, which is to say sometimes lovely, sometimes dull, sometimes screechy and always, always filled with pointing out the kitty cats and honking as many noses as dot her little horizon. Regardless, I’m counting down the days until he returns, if only for the care package stuffed with Tim Tams and brown sugar arriving from home. (Nope, no brown sugar here. How’s a girl supposed to eat butterscotch pudding sans brown sugar?)
Earlier this month marked six months since our arrival. It’s flown. Partly due to all the lovely guests we’ve had, and partly because there are so many exciting new things to see and do and eat and smell and experience together. We’ve finally started those German lessons – a lovely Swiss woman (named Irene, funnily enough) swings by on Tuesday nights and has taught me to explain that my name is Wendy, my schön Mädchen is indeed a Mädchen despite how much she looks like her father, that we are from Australia and that I hold that most glorious of occupations: a Hausfrau. We spend a fair bit of time in ‘fantasy conversation’, where we make up professions and nationalities of fictional people, and order meals with multiple variations for them in cafes or get them to identify their lost mobile phones, newspapers, or pets. (These people are clearly quite indecisive and absentminded, and as such I’d prefer not to encounter them in real life.) Last night the teacher (a stand in, not the lovely and hopefully more open-minded Irene) was horrified that I identified ‘Peter’ as a Hausmann. An emphatic nein, apparently. Peter could be an Ingenieur (engineer), or Lehrer (teacher), or IT-Manager (self evident and nerdy) but definitely not a stay at home dad and housekeeper. ‘Maria’, who worked for Stadt Luzern (the local council) as a garbage truck driver, fared little better. Fictional peeps aside, it’s great to finally be giving it a bash but it is definitely challenging. Other than scheduling nap times and meals (like Peter) I am not used to thinking particularly hard so attempting to understand male, female and neutral nouns and then adapt sentence structure and words for tense is…well….difficult. On the plus side, I now know how to order myself a whole bottle of delicious red wine, so I count it as a win.
Although we get away a reasonable amount, one of the most pertinent changes we’ve experienced during our time here is getting to know a new local landscape and experience its subtle nuances. McMotsMots has his daily commute to Rotkreuz, and the lass and I walk virtually the same route along the lake every day, giving us all the opportunity to witness the merge of season into season. The last week alone has heralded so many changes. Flowers are popping up everywhere: golden narcissus circling trees, heady-scented freesias scaling embarkments, the outline of cherry buds against the backdrop of the Alps, and miscellaneous white-and-yellow numbers everywhere else. The light is lingering later and later and becoming increasingly glowing of an evening. Birdsong has become clearer and more discrete – one could almost interpret their conversations (mine back to them was ‘shut up, it’s 4am, haven’t you heard of a civil waking hour, or are you just in cahoots with my daughter?). And the temperature, if not exactly balmy, is down to three-layer-weather, which feels wonderful (both in a physical and laundry sense).
On the recommendation of a friend via this article I am currently reading a Swiss French book, Beauty on Earth. Completely coincidentally timing wise, the plot surfaces and develops as spring unfolds and cuts across the mountains, lakes and village where the story is set. It’s translated from the French and as such I’m uncertain how much of the abstraction of the writing is due to interpretation versus culture, but nonetheless there’s an otherness to it that aligns perfectly with this hazy, remote, ethereal landscape. The following passage is from the perspective (and there are multiple perspectives, almost alternating in every paragraph) of the central character who is newly arrived to Switzerland from South America, and trying to come to grips with the country, its people and its landscape all the while influencing it herself with, like spring, her own vibrancy. This passage, to me, captures the glimpses of the Alps over the shimmering uncertainty of the lake, the almost tangible beginnings of twighlight, the smudges of Swiss spring.
Below is the water, but there are three things. The water is below, then she looks a little higher and sees the land (if it is truly land on that other bank, when it looks more like sculpted air, air which has been squeezed between your hands). It was like air surrounded by air, blue surrounded by blue, until higher up, but then she didn’t understand at all anymore: up there the beautiful laundry-like fields of snow were hanging on a rope of sky…