We recently sent Ryder-Walker guest Lisa Allen to the Appenzell region of eastern Switzerland. She’s been having a blast! Please also read Hiking in Appenzell-Day 1 | “A Slice of Heaven” and Hiking in Appenzell-Day 2 | “Until the Cows Come Home”
Until you have spent time in Appenzellerland, been enchanted and moved by its special melodies, stood beside shepherds, keen and sturdy, and watched Swiss Cattle Dogs doing the work for which they were bred, you may not, cannot, in your soul, understand the most elemental joy of Maria from “The Sound Of Music,” as when, with arms raised to touch the hands of God, she frolics around the deep green hills of her native country. She has realized, like me that, in the simple, one can discover the sublime and the extraordinary. The Swiss must preserve, especially, those rituals perfomed under the canopy of Mother Nature.
Last night, I fell asleep with the melody in my mind of the hammer dulcimer being played by a young man in traditional grab in the establishment where I had the most delicious salad I have ever tasted, made with apple dressing covered greens and fruits and vegetables which, it seemed, had been picked and prepared just then from Swiss meadows, for me. Then, very early this morning, Tuesday, I proceeded to one end of town where people began to line the streets. I stood next to Mona Lisa, a lovely and fit Appenzeller Mountain Dog and, of course, a photo of Piber was shown to her owner in which Piber is pulling a goat cart. Piber is my Appenzell Cattle Dog.
People from around the country and the world began to wait for the show to begin. Soon, Swiss ceremonial bells heralded the arrival of the first herd of cattle, trotting proudly through town with shepherds dressed in native costume guiding their charges with staffs and halters to the large field where each cow would be tethered to fences for the day, with hay and water readily available. The cattle, herd after herd, passed under a large arch which had been built, decorated with garlands and Swiss bells.
Appenzell Cattle Dogs abounded to keep their herds properly on the road. In front of many herds were little children moving white goats along the road and, of course, the children take this job quite seriously and were dressed as young shepherds and shepherdesses, in an only very slightly modified manner compared to the adult version. Swiss and cantonal flags waved proudly, high on poles, and the light fog soon was but a memory, with the hills shining in all their glory!
to be continued…
Lisa Allen, from Appenzell, Switzerland