on the edge
June 28, 2009
There is this village up in the Alps, a hamlet really, only a few chalets almost hanging from the steep slope. Hardly anyone lives there nowadays. It used to be a larger village where families of mountain farmers made their living in growing wheat, rye, vegetables on terraces. Goats provided milk and cheese and mules were the only means of transportation. No easy life up there but the necessity to cultivate every inch of soil.When I am in the area, I often walk to this village on a small track along a narrow irrigation canal. Water ! so precious at all times in such an environnement. The canal is called “bisse” over there and it is built in the same way as the Arabs did in Northern Africa, in the Atlas mountains. Arabs who did travel as far as the Swiss Alps many centuries ago and who shared their knowledge about water supply.
In Summer the sun is hot in this micro climate. Coolness is provided by the gentle flow of the water in the canal and the shade in the woods. Tourists have discovered this pleasant walk and enjoy hiking along the mountain slopes for miles. I love it up there. In all Seasons. In Winter it is easier to do snowshoeing. The silence is palpable. Hardly any birds around but the mountain ones or those who did not migrate to warmer climes.In the late Fall, I like to bring a book with me, sit along the track and read. Often my eyes lift from my reading and just look and admire this unique landscape all around. Sitting on the edge of the mountain, somewhere between sky and earth. The mountains towering above and the valley deep down below. I have walked on this path countless times, it is never the same and always a renewed pleasure, a deep gratitude for such a world we inherited and have to protect.