whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The flower pie cow trio

Swiss Alpine tulips declare spring

[I posted this last night and it disappeared from the system just as it was being published. A new day, time to try again.]

A patch of my garden tulips in the Alps

Friday evening the weekend got off to a rough start. I was cleaning my contact lens when one of them was washed down the drain. My son volunteered to take apart the drain - the next morning.

I woke up yesterday feeling glum because the options were not good and replacing the kind of lens I have doesn't come cheaply. I could go without my contacts for the weekend, but I'm very near-sighted, so that means a headache and frustration. I could wear a pair of old glasses, all right for driving but too strong for cooking or even having a conversation with someone. I could wear one and go through the day one-eyed, more or less.

Liam took apart the drain, but no lens. The cleaning job was probably good for the drain but it's hard to get satisfaction from knowing your drains sparkle on the inside.

I went outside without glasses and admired my Alpine tulips, wonderful creatures. They are lovely flowers to look at but I am excited by them simply because they came up, rewarding me for hours spent in chilly weather last October and November, with dents in my knees from planting them. Spring comes so much later here in the mountains than in the valley below
that I wanted masses of tulips to keep my impatience in check while the rest of the garden struggles to warm up.

Swiss Alpine rhubarb-apple pie adds cheer

I put on my glasses, admired the tulips again and photographed them, noticed that the rhubarb plant had gonen in two weeks from "growing nicely" to being tall with flowers forming. The glasses gave me a headache when I wore them shopping so I took them off and baked a pie: rhubarb-apple. We had it with a pot of black tea.

A little later I heard cowbells clanging madly. Farmer Bernard, whose barn is just above the chalet, was taking his young girls, the three year old cows, outside for the first time. They loved it - they kicked up their heels, raced around a fenced-in area and stopped to nuzzle Farmer Bernard and his friends. I tried to photograph them but they were moving too much so I kept getting shots of back legs.

"If you insist." Jou-Jou, pausing to pose.

"Jou-Jou," called Bernard to the light brown one, and she came over to say hello. She is one of a couple brown cows who stay with the herd of black Val d'Herens fighting cows, to keep them a little more docile. The fighting cows have short legs, the better for climbing in the Alps. There are 27 in this herd, and on Tuesday they will all come outside for the summer. They first nibble the grass in the meadows around us and six weeks later they march up to the higher alps where they will stay until September. Next year Jou-Jou and the others her age will have their first calves.

Meanwhile, they frolic, the only word for it. Soon I will hear Farmer Bernard in the evenings, calling them back to the barn so he can milk them. I know I will hear him again shouting up the hillside, "Leila! Come in now! You can't stay out all night, you know." Leila will suddenly decide she's ready to call it a day. Clanging and running, into the barn she will rush. Later, the bells go silent (Bernard puts tennis balls in them to stop the noise) and the soft lowing begins.


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