We came here zinged on a big city's pulse, sleep deprived by bright lights and street noises and man's ingenuity. High. But the Alps--larger than London by so many metric tons--gives us the sense of coming down.
The moment we arrive in Grindelwald, Switzerland, village of expensive winter coats and sloped farmer's fields, of cascading waterfalls and white glacial rivers, of a chorus of wildflowers I have neither seen nor heard before, we let some bit of stress go. The steps we ascend, constantly, are slow going and measured, paced with our shallow breaths. The long hikes we attempt result in weary, spent bodies, sometimes bruised. And at night we devour plates of food--thin soups and hearty breads, strange salads and thick cuts of meat--until the only thing left in our psyches is sleep. As we climb up to bed, the open windows let in the lullabye of jangling cow bells and somewhere rushing water. For a few minutes, we watch as the light fades, the Mettenberg and the Eiger and the Jungfrau peaks slipping into shadowed sky, but soon our eyelids close with the day.
How long have we been here, we hear ourselves wonder. How many days since...? When did we...?
No one knows, not really, not even the ends of the questions, and though we wake up fresher, eyes wide, still we step into the hills the next morning as if dreaming.
wildflower fields woven with snow.
streams we bend to, pure as the air, and use to fill up our waterbottles.
an alpine lake, Bachalpsee, startlingly cold, a perfect mirror.
trails inches from cliffs.
treelines that shrink and shrink beneath our gaze which is so often hinged up.
On our last day, I pause, overlooking the Eismeer glacier, a crag that, we are told, used to stretch full between the Mettenberg and Eiger, a snowpack so solid men used to herd their goats across its surface from one mountain to the next. I try to imagine the glacier as larger, more white, more full of the horizon than it already is. My heart pounds. I feel it, and the shifting ice, and the waterfalls, and the rivers, in my ears, rushing in all directions. And I think, with a kind of gratitude, that we can build a thousand cities full of a million things and still be small.