It’s a funny time here in Freiburg-im-Breisgau at the moment. No one quite knows what to wear. On the same street you could see a young man in shorts and a T-shirt sitting on a bench next to an older, perhaps more sensible, woman wearing a coat.
It’s a time of cold mornings, warmish afternoons, and chilly evenings. The question is whether it’s worthwhile taking a coat? can I get away with shorts? will this jumper be enough? do I really need a scarf? no, gloves are over the top? oh, but, they might be nice tonight, mightn’t they?
Spring is coming. Buds are on branches and people’s eyes are brighter now. Scarves hang loose around necks; they no longer have chins buried down into them.
FIRES IN THE STREETS IN SWITZERLAND
Yesterday I was in Switzerland for an Umzug – procession– for Fastnacht – Carnival. In a tradition that is gloriously ancient and wholly primeval, burning torches, and metal wagons transporting portable bonfires were pulled down the small streets of a Swiss town by people wearing fire brigade helmets, masks and old, green woollen national service coats.
It evokes the thoughts of witch burning, the celebration of winter being over, the idea of being squashed in a crowd.
The front row, standing on the kerb closest to the fires, is often scorched. The wagons are stopped, and arms are raised in front of eyes in an attempt to prevent them melting. It was definitely hot because a digital street clock that oscillated between time and temperature in red LED letters recorded an increase of three degrees – and this was at 8.00pm
Also in Switzerland I was at Rheinfall, a water fall in the Rhine. The Swiss have got it all worked on when it comes to tourism, too. Not only is there the fantastic water fall to see, the almost sea-like smell coming off the continuously flowing water and the square, red and white flags flying everywhere, there is the ultimate in Swiss souvenirs: knives, chocolate and watches.
Since the time when general thought centred on the idea that Europe was all the world had to offer in terms of land, water power was harnessed here, and buildings date to 1400s or even earlier. The flat stones of ledges at the doors are all worn in the middle – as though squashed by history itself.