A Switzerland Story

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From Mountains to Here

The window cracks open as I push my weight against it. Fresh air sweeps into the gondola, taking on a life of its own as it swirls around the enclosed cabin, feasting on our exposed cheeks and noses. I resist the urge to slam the window shut and instead rest my forehead against the slit. Uncontaminated by foggy glass, the Swiss Alps are the most beautiful landscape I have ever had the privilege of seeing.

Pine trees coated in snow press against either side of the dangling cabin, ripping the oxygen from my lungs like a one-sided game of tug-o-war. The white sheet of snow below us glistens beneath stray strands of sunlight, seemingly offering a level of protection against the question of failed mechanics and a fatal fall. Jack stamps out our sense of security as, his voice strangled by fear, he draws our attention to the thick branches poking through the fluff. I tear my eyes from the picturesque scene as I hear him murmur through gritted teeth, “Taking four promising young adults this high should be illegal.”

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I watch as Michael’s chapped lips break into a mischievous grin. He leans precariously to the side of the gondola and Jack shrieks, clutching his seat with trembling fingers.

Laughter escapes in clouds of fog as we pass onto a landing.

As we exit and climb a set of stairs, a thought dances through my mind, nestling in my skull: Those particles of ice crystals will never touch humankind. They’ll be left unscathed, dusted over pine trees like perfect replicas of my family’s Christmas ornaments.

The thought evaporates as the summit of Mt Pilatus materialises. It’s not just the sight of collapsing mountains held aloft by a haze of cotton wool that leaves me gasping, as a snowball slams into my neck, icy droplets trickling beneath my scarf. A scream catches in the back of my throat as a hand crams another sodden lump into my open mouth, staining my chin and melting on my tongue.

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Of course. Ice crystals eventually melt, slide, sublimate away. Heat transforms snow into water into runoff which seeps into the ground, flows into streams and lakes. Evaporation, condensation, precipitation. ‘Untouched’ snow littering the Swiss Alps might one day travel through the veins of the earth or roll through a storm-cloud until it’s dripping from my kitchen tap.

A place I won’t forget taught me that everything is connected, from the mountains to here– wherever that may be.

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Much like the rest of Europe, Switzerland has an endless reserve of stories stored in its heart. This stone lion carving commemorates France’s betrayal of the Swiss Army, who defended King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette when they were allegedly taking refuge in the Louvre. They had, in fact, already escaped. The infamous King and Queen let their Swiss Guards die in the fight, selfishly turning a blind eye to the deaths of the loyal men.

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