As I sit here, writing this, much of the vineyards here have already turned yellow. The mountains are now a fading orange and darkening day by day. The trees and bushes in our garden no longer give a green divide between us and our neighbors. In fact, the children seem to constantly be breaking branches whenever they press themselves through the trees to reach the playground on the other side. And since daylight savings was a few weeks ago, the darkness comes sooner too, bringing chilly Valais winds with it. It’s winter again, our second since we moved here late last year.
We’ve moved our entire family, our entire home, our entire life away from the small valley in Luzern and into a larger one right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. It is sandwhiched between the Bernese Alps (home of Jungfraujoch) to the north, and the Valais Alps (home of Matterhorn) to the south. Oh everyone knows those mountains, but less know about that wide valley between them called Valais or Wallis, even though it has played quite a role in the country’s history.
Though popular to foreign and local tourists for its mountain resorts, it really is just a BIG small town
Yes, we’re still in Switzerland. Even if the the locals here don’t really believe it. In the German speaking part of this Canton, they pragmatically refer to the rest of Switzerland north of the Bernese Alps as “Ausserschwiiz” directly translated as “outside Switzerland” and the people as “Deutschschweizer” as opposed to “Walliser” (although Walliserdeutsch is still considered a Swiss German dialect). Well…it’s not really hard to understand, with the towering mountains between you and your fellow neighbor, who else would matter anyway?
But we’re not living in the German speaking part. Fortunately or not. We are living in the French part, belonging to that region the rest of the Swiss Germans refer to as Romandie. But even the French Swiss in these parts have their greatest quarrels with the French Swiss just a little further north, by Lake Geneva, mostly about who’s got the best wine.
And this entire region of Valais (or Wallis, depending on your preference), though popular to foreign and local tourists for its mountain resorts, is really just a big small town. It is a world on its own.
Now it’s our new home. And it’s been more than a year since I have found the time to write again. We are now a family of five. Living in a region that speaks a new language. It’s been a tough year full of adjustments, to say the least.
There is actually much to write about. But I will take it slow.
In the meantime, here is last winter’s photo of Valais our new home, mountains rising from each side of the valley. After living here for a year, it’s hard to imagine a horizon that’s actually horizontal…but I’m not complaining.