switchbacks that led us higher and higher out of the valley. After what seemed like hours, we finally reached the house and I fell into a deep sleep in the loft covered by thick down blankets. When we awoke, the sun was shining through the haze that hovered across the range and beamed a frosted ray of golds and yellows across the room. The scent of fried potatoes and fresh baked bread lured us downstairs where all the guests were gathered around a large oak table sharing a breakfast feast. Farm fresh jams, milk, juice and cheese greeted us as we sat down and savored the rich bouquet of delights laid out before us. After a hearty breakfast with our newfound friends, we all threw on our boots, wrapped ourselves up in fleece and jackets and piled into the tractor trailer to begin the day’s adventures. A short ride out into the lush green farmland, dodging grazing cows and electric fences and we finally reached our destination. A lone ripened apple tree, branches burdened with hundreds of red and yellow
flecked orbs. We climbed the old tree and shook each drooping limb until the thick wet grass below was blanketed with apples. Laughter and smiles on everyone’s face accompanied our chores, and collecting the fruits of our labor went by in a flash. There’s something very Zen and peaceful about this type of manual labor - the cool fresh breeze slipping down off the mountain, cowbells chiming in the distance, sun dripping across our backs and shoulders as we stoop down in slow methodical procession. The pace of life is a bit slower up here in the countryside. More purposeful, languid and savored in every step and breath. It’s a quiet existence filled with the small moments of life that are somehow magnified and appreciated more for all that they’re worth - the daily chores working under the high mountain sun, a steaming cup of coffee sipped in a warm nook of the kitchen, fresh air and the sounds of life all around you as you stand looking out over the endless valley.
There’s something very different about this kind of living. Maybe it’s the lack of distractions of modern society or the peaceful and natural existence being so close to nature, but whatever it is, you can feel it the minute you’re there, as the solitude and serenity of the countryside casts its silent spell on you. After collecting all the stray fruit and loading it into the trailer we rumbled our way back home to finish what we started. Washing them hand by hand, piling them into crates, spooling up the shredder and oiling the press that would soon squeeze the sweet nectar out of each fruit and into giant glass carafes for storage. I’ve never made fresh apple juice by hand before and it was an interesting and rewarding experience here in the verdant foothills of the Swiss alps. Everyone went about their job with subdued delight, and when all was said and done we had about thirty gallons of farm fresh juice bottled and ready to enjoy. Sipping the sweet amber concoction and sitting out in the garden under the low lying sun, we whittled away the rest of the day aimlessly and in pure bliss - savoring the taste of country life one last time before heading back home to the sleepy streets of Lucerne.
Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries I've been to. Having visited many years ago, I was expecting the serene mountainside villages, rolling green hills and peaceful pastoral ambiance of this famously neutral country, but memories of the last time I was here don’t do it justice. After spending a week in the heart of Zurich, being treated like family by Oli and friends, I was eager to get out to the countryside and savor the slower pace of life. My wishes were answered in the form of another great couchsurfer in Lucerne, who not only arranged a free cable car ride to the top of one of the nearby mountains, but also invited us to join her at a friend’s family chalet on the outskirts of Schupfheim. We arrived at the train station in the dead of night and walked through a pitch black forest to reach the farm, up a gravel road and into the winding