15 February 2009

El Barrio

A few pictures from around the neighborhood. Short walks with the pooches are about all I can muster with this epic bacterial infection-jet lag-hangover-cultural immersion confusion-virus I've been carrying with me for five weeks now.

It's pretty easy around here as everything is connected by paths and trails that circle not only forests and farmlands but that also lead to shopping centers and train stations. It's all very cute and quaint and easy.

Here is a not-so-cute and quaint tree that I'm certain will reach out and grab me one of these days. I have no idea what the thought process behind this creation was or is but I bet that it eats a handful of those cute and quaint Japanese bonsai trees for lunch everyday.

Crans-près-Céligny is about 20 kms outside of Geneva. Though Geneva itself is not very big (about 200,000), it's a world away. Quiet and rural. All the little villages are separated by forests and farmlands. There is no such thing as sprawl. An even farther world away than the last residencies of Santiago and Almaty.

Richard Burton died and is buried in our sibling village of Céligny. And, apparently, Jet Man lives within rock throwing distance. Other than that, nothing happens here. Ever. Perfect.

The properties are beautiful. The buildings are huge and well-constructed and neat and clean. Elko county this is not.

This little thing is attached to a part of a much larger property. I have no idea what its purpose is, maybe the Swiss version of the sheepherder's wagon? One of these days I am going to hug it.

Lines and boundaries and fences and roads to make any Thomas Jeffersonian proud. It's not called Old Europe for nothing. These people have had plenty of practice. And, boy, can they stack wood!

So until I can finally kick all this crap out of my system and Hank can get back to school full time and all our stuff shows up (car included) that we keep dragging around this globe, I'll relegate my days to walks with the dogs, raking leaves in the backyard, and stoking the oven. It seems to me that's what most of the Swiss do anyway.


Lea said...

i would guess that the tree is a spalierbaum, which was not placed on a spalier as it should be. you get them to grow along the walls of quaint old farmhouses because they go well with quaintoldfarmhouse walls. try a google picture search for spalierbaum. we have one and it looks kind of ridiculous because it is not close enough to the wall...

steven hatcher said...

She's right! It's an espalier tree!

Lea said...

i am the great mystery solver, oh yes.

also, about the nothing ever happens here thing: on the outside it may all seem peaceful and even borderline boring. beneath the surface of, especially of even, rural farmland lie shakesperarean tragedy, age old feuds and breathtaking scandals of romantic and political natures. not as blatant as pouring gasoline on a car and throwing a match but more subtle and, sometimes, more evil.

just like the spalierbaum, which will someday reach out and grab you.

steven hatcher said...

Wow! Where can I buy tickets to these dramas?

But now that you mention it, don't you think that Shakespeare's characters live lives too public for these folks? I'm thinking more along the lines of the bizarro, deep, dark family secret worlds of Faulkner or Tennessee Williams. The once glorious and noble Southern plantations where the mansions are grown over with kudzu and cobwebs and Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler's illegitimate children are holed-up and strung-out on opium. Maybe? I'll let you know after I creep around these places and peek in windows for a week or two.

Jeff said...

I'm sorry, but no cute tree photos. I want wine and snow.

Lea said...

i don't think i agree with your point although i see where you're coming from. i would argue that life is very public for more folks than you would think, just on levels that you are oblivious to. souls are not lost over kingdoms but over a half acre of land on the edge of two properties or the position of third mayor in a town of 4000. it is hard to keep a secret when everyone makes it their business to know everyone elses secrets.

getting tickets is not easy, most seats are distributed by birthright.

steven hatcher said...

I see your point; I'm oblivious on many levels. Secrets is a relative term. Even Faulkner's illegitimate offspring know that everybody in town knows the real parents. Still, they try to hide. And we all know why Mom couldn't hold on to that half an acre after Dad died. There are debts to pay.

monika said...

About the fences and the borders: You can also walk right through them and on to anybody's property they appear to protect without having to fear someone's going to shoot you down. So, besides hidden feuds and whatever secret tragedies (aren't they found everywhere in the world in rural communities, especially when observed with urban eyes?????-for a closer inside look you could read Dürrenmatt maybe as well) that's OLD EUROPE, too. The only hazard you might face is a barking dog charging at you but only to lead you back to a yellow posted hiking trail.
By the way:
never EVER had a trail leading me to a SHOPPING CENTER. Trainstation, ok but a shopping center? But, after all, I live on the other side of the Rösti ditch. Could easily be the FrenchSwiss don't take the signposting business as serious as their German compatriots. I'd be happy to go shopping with you in my hiking boots one of these days, steve.

steven hatcher said...

Monika, you lived in the States long enough, you should know by now that in the evolution of humankind (with the US leading the way!), all roads lead to malls. The only difference is that in Old Europe those roads might be walking paths and in the US those roads are four lane super highways. Oh, and you remember the ZCMI Center? Well, no more. Make way for the Super New and Improved ZCMI Center!

And about that "walk right through them and on to anybody's property they appear to protect without having to fear someone's going to shoot you down" bit, just ask your friend Wendy about that. Let's just say that there are some Swiss neighbors here that now adhere to Robert Frost's "good fences make good neighbors" policy.

See you soon, ja?