Tuesday, April 26, 2011


German has a nice guttural sound that reminds me of mountain lions purring. The vocal gymnastics you must do to make the right sounds is fun in a gurgly kind of way.

The low rumble required to spit out works like ‘Danke’ and ‘shpitzel’ is oddly comforting-- like a hug.

All week, I enjoyed the baritone rumbles of this dialect while trying to sound out the ridiculously long words. Consider: ‘Himbeermarmelade’ (aka: raspberry jam). Admittedly, it’s a bit intimidating. My friend often laughed at my mispronunciation; I laughed with her.

The best part of my trip however wasn't the language, but the fact I didn’t need to think.

If anything was in English or French, I would have found myself endlessly reading and translating. However, not speaking more than two words of German, freed me from this burden. Instead, I let my friend organize and plan.

We went on walks, slept in late, and ate like royalty. (Oh, how I love fondue!)

One day we traveled by bus and boat to Lucerne for a walk about the city. Smaller than Zurich, it’s full of brutish swans, sparkling waters, and ancient wooden bridges.

I learned that the bridges there were set on fire a few years back, incinerating most of the countless murals painted in their rafters. In a span of minutes, priceless masterpieces were lost. It was a sad day for Switzerland.

However, not all of the paintings were ruined. Some were rescued, and today testify to the heritage lost -- one side of the painting depict rural Swiss life, while the other side is charred beyond recognition.

Walking around the city, we took our time leafing through books stores, sitting on museum steps, and sunning ourselves in yellow shaded tea gardens.

Then toward the end of the day, we went to the Kunstmuseum Lucern (or the Museum of Art Lucerne) for a quick look around. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of squiggles and splashes-- I tend to prefer a bit of form to my fancy-- but this museum surprised me. 

There were four small exhibits of artists I’ve never heard of before. One artist built a wooden door that looked like bricks which opened to an empty room with another similar door on the opposite end. It was disconcerting being the artwork instead of the art critic, but I liked it and had to laugh.

Another artist disturbingly tried to paint death and hell. It wasn’t so much the images as the somber colors. He looked like he was trying too hard. A third artist was all about taking blurry pictures of herself in store front windows.               --Not a fan.

However, the last exhibit made up for everything.

Her name is Patricia Bucher. She is a Swiss artist in her 30’s who painted a 30-meter circular panoramic of battle scenes since the dawn of time. It’s called the Schlachtenpanorama. (Please don’t ask me what that means... ha ha!)

My Swiss friend tells me that battle panoramics are very common in Switzerland, however, this was my first.

Bucher mixed Aztec Indian warriors with Napoleon's troops; she painted the Indian goddess Shiva among Egyptian hieroglyphics; she placed Star Wars battle troopers against cave men and revolutionary soldiers. It was epic!         --Simply AM-az-ING!

I am now definitely a fan of epic battle panoramics... and Patricia Bucher!

All in all, my time in German-speaking Switzerland was fabulous. I loved seeing my friend. I loved discovering these new places. It was just what this tired midwife needed.

Thank you, MT! I sure do love you!