Expat adventures

  19.08.2022 Expat Adventure

There’s a scene in ‘The Sound of Music’ where Maria and the children are enjoying a picnic in the mountains. An idyllic scene of relaxation and play. One of the girls asks if they could do this every day, to which Maria replies: “Don't you think you'd soon get tired of it, Louisa?”

And therein lies the rub. Too much of a good thing can be … well, too much of a good thing.

Sun, sun, sun!
I adore hot weather. When we lived in California there were basically two seasons: summer for about eleven months of the year, followed by three to four weeks of rain.

There was something rather marvellous about living somewhere so warm, but was it perhaps too perfect? After all whenever we went out for the day we’d just step out of the house. No need to lug jumpers, coats, hats or scarves along ‘just in case’ – something I had been used to in my childhood. In the UK you had to be prepared for any kind of weather, no matter the season. It wasn’t unusual to experience all four seasons in one day. The morning could start out sunny, turn overcast then wet from rain, sleet or even snow, before heralding a dry evening and light breeze. I believe the official term is ‘variable’.

The rhythm of life
One of the loveliest things about the Saanenland are the seasons. Seasons punctuate life from what we wear, to what we eat and what we do. The seasons offer a rhythm to life, something to savour in the present and something to look forward to.

The Saanenland is of course famed for its winters. The first snows appear around the beginning of November and can last all the way into April. Mid-February often bags the best of the winter weather with glorious blue skies, bright sunshine and crisp temperatures. Throughout these months there’s comfort in fondue, raclette and mugs of Ovomaltine.

Until blessed spring arrives. Each January I obsessively check the sunrise/sunset times, savouring the gradual lengthening of each day as winter morphs into spring. The snows melt and new life is on display everywhere you look, from the cowslips lining the riverside paths to the luscious in-season asparagus spears that start appearing on menus.

Summers in the Saanenland herald glorious chocolate box imagery of blue skies, lush green meadows and snow-topped mountain peaks, punctuated by the most outrageous thunderstorms. Yet despite my love of warm weather, I’m almost not sad to bid summer goodbye because autumn means game season. Extravagant, colourful meals of freshly hunted wild hare, boar, deer and much more besides are available to enjoy. So tempting are these dishes that a staunchly vegetarian friend of mine briefly turns into a carnivore each game season.

Expect the unexpected
So in Switzerland you pretty much know what to expect at the turn of each season. Except that humans are fallible. My children love to remind me of a day trip to Adelboden some years ago. It was a late spring day and we were out sightseeing, dressed in regular day clothes. Once there we decided to take a trip up one of the mountains where skiing was still in full swing. The presence of unexpected snow was too much for young children, who proceeded to slip, slide and roll around in the stuff, letting themselves get dragged up the button lift on their bottoms, having a whale of a time.

So perhaps Louisa was right. Perhaps you can’t have too much of a good thing?


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