Ode to Departure

Anyone who wants to start a life in Pleigne and who doesn’t want a farm would have to be insane, ya know? At eight-o-nine above the sea, it’s not for the non-motorized, and me, well, as a cyclist, I can’t say I’m drawn to put down roots–

why, who can live there?

Well, there’s the birds that fall out of the sky and need a place to roost, and set a spell.

Hell, how did all those cows get up here after all?

The village hosts a couple hundred, sheep and horses, too.

Those bleaters and the ones that moo and fertilize the countryside, fill every corner that’s not paved or vertical or clothed in wheat.

On every slant or slope where there’s a patch of grass, the Swiss will put a cow on it or cut it down for hay– but I can say that after my month’s stay in Pleigne I have had enough of farms and wheat and cowshit and I’m ready for a change.

It’s strange to find that I have had my fill of Switzerland, but after all this time I see that what I loved was alpine.

Now it seems to me that CH isn’t wild enough– it’s tame and small and regulated tighter than a kayak skin stretched tight over a frame.

I’ve changed, you see, and I don’t feel the same way now about this place. I’ve had enough of lace and knick-knack-gnomes grinning at me in flower gardens perfectly arranged, wood-carvings and a packaged deal for sunny days and cloudy– maybe it was all the Saudis on the streets in Interlaken, in their burkas and hijabs that made me realize that the profit-driven clock which ticks behind the cheese and chocolate has become too much for me–

I’ve had enough.

Don’t take me for a xenophobe, Rijad, Dubai– they’re the new Tokyo and Beijing and money has a look that changes with the times, even though the clink and swish of francs exchanged remains the same.

It took me way too long to understand my own affection and connection to this place.

All the things I loved in Switzerland were wild and remote, not cornered, cultivated and fenced in.

Not something that you could buy or take a ticket to the top for, not convenience topped with lake rides on a boat and comforts for the rich and thin of skin.

Mobility and travel and the chance to cross the countryside through spiderwebs of hiking paths and trails–

that’s what was different from the ranchland in the Southlands, flat and privatized and hard as nails to get away from,

but I did it, and I fell in love with everything it wasn’t:

cold and high and grand and awful in those stern and glorious heights, unlawfully seductive and elusive.

I found all that again, but wilder still, up north, and colder too, and reckless in her beauty;

henceforth, I’ll listen for her bolder voice as Alaska with her forests and her mountains and her rivers, glaciers, snow and bright aurora draws me home,

to the place which I first felt that I could love and call my own,

a place with people that made sense to me

and secret places to explore and an extraordinary, rare community.

So now I think that I can bid farewell to that magnetic tug that pulled me Swiss-ward for so many years.

The song it sang has ceased to magnetize me and it appears I understand now what it was I wanted and that I won’t be taunted anymore or swayed by fears that everything I love’s too far and inaccessible.

It’s right there at the terminus of my ticket. I’ll be back again to pick it up where I left off.

Irrepressible they are, these feelings of anticipation, mounting, as the weeks begin to dim.

Though they make me ache and daydream, I confess my realization: it is true that they hurt; even so, I like them.


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