CELEBRATION OF SPRING
Early spring. Time for the cows in the Swiss village to leave the winter pastures and head for the mountains. We gather at dawn with three other foreign families for a traditional ceremony. A blessing from the priest, a prayer, a song.
The cows are adorned with ribbons, flowers and bells; the cow herder and his young helper with lederhosen, embroidered suspenders and perky feathered hats.
morning mist–we follow the scent
of slow moving cows
Up into the Jura we drive, breaking through the fog. La Madame, the owner of the herd, meets us at her fromagerie in the mountains. The cows disburse in the open pastures. Pigs shurp their feed in mud-soaked pens. Goats roam freely around the small sleeping hut and the work buildings.
La Madame, weathered hardened and wiry, dressed in worn work pants and knee high rubber boots. "Ecoutez. Listen," she tells us.
We lean forward, trying hard to understand her lesson in cheese making.
bubbling vats of cheese–a slice of sunlight shines
through a high window
We follow her again, now to her chalet a little further up the mountain. A vista of sweeping meadows, wildflowers and rock croppings. Le Monsieur is laying stones for a wall. Before we can eat, there is work. The men in our party carry stones and level dirt; the women slice bread and carry wood. In this corner of the Jura everything is as it was a hundred years earlier. A wood stove, water pumped from a well, lanterns for light.
We breakfast on strong coffee with fresh cream, baskets of crusty bread with sweet butter and the local current jam. Even today, time does not move.
an invitationfrom the warm sun and soft grass—
the bugs ignored
Stylus Poetry , Dec. 2005