Monday, 24 June 2019

Swiss Ways - Seeweg, Wanderweg

Written on a wall in Wadenswil

The Swiss are an ultra civilized people. Peaceful - in the sense of valuing peace - but also in the regular sense - they're not excitable or prone to drama. They are polite, well mannered and helpful. As if this is a natural way to be. What we might call 'going out of their way' to be helpful, that is their way.

Walking today on the path that borders the Zurichsee (and here we have another Way, the Seeweg) the mountains come into view.

 The effects of light on the water

Man and dog come ashore

And I think I have the answer to the Swiss confidence in their own identity, their trust in the values and practices of civility. These mountains are on your side. Yes, lots of countries have mountains, but these ones draw you towards them, their presence is benevolent. I remember- I guess everyone does - the first time I saw the Swiss mountains. It was winter, they were snow-covered. I'd never seen anything like these pointed massive peaks, so remote and sublime, so much inhabiting another world yet planted in this one. They could have been angels, turned into rock and mystery. They are for worshipping (so I felt) thankful for this new feeling that they gave me.

Many years later when I stayed on the shores of Lac Leman, there they were, on the other side, watchful, wonderful.

And now, a few years later by the Zurichsee they're further away but I'm walking towards them. From Horgen to Au, to Wädenswil. Here, the Seeweg leaves the lakeside and becomes a Wanderweg, which goes up into the foothills. Through the town of Wädenswil,
through leafy lanes between large mansion houses, some with half-timbered facades. The fenced lanes are hung with roses and honeysuckle and a hedge of honey scented white flowers. Just to put one foot in front of another is a joy.

Zodiac decorated porch roof in Wädenswil

Every turn is signposted. The path markings are idiot-proof. Even I have not got lost, not once.

Beyond the town the path continues uphill through woods, pine, beech, all kinds of trees. They are tall and very quiet and there is no wind. The forest encloses. Uphill - and then the trees fall back like an escort that's taken you safely through danger, and waves you on your way.

And soon you're in inhabited country again, houses and gardens, the hilltop suburbs of Richterswil. I lost the sun in the woods, and the mountains are shrouded in cloud or mist.

From here it's all downhill to the town of Richterswil. I've been walking for hours. I take the S bahn northbound back to Horgen.