ExpatCH: Swiss culture between the sheets
Some Swiss cultural assimilations are obvious, such as incorporating cheese and chocolate into your daily diet - but other Swiss cultural traits are a little more subtle.
Sometimes Swiss cultural assimilation is obvious, like when you decide that your day is not complete without a mouthful of cheese and chocolate (not at the same time). Sometimes this assimilation is more subtle.
When I used to live in the U.S. and would come to Switzerland or France, I'd always be a little annoyed when climbing into bed. Where's the top sheet? Didn't Europe get the catalogues on civilized bedding? Yes, they have a sheet covering the mattress, but instead of a supple top sheet, they skip right through to a comforter. The floaty comforter has a soft washable cover, but why do without the top sheet? We've evolved since animal fur on a cave floor.
At first, when I moved to Switzerland in 2010 my Swiss-Canadian wife, who knows New World ways, said, sure, we can put on a top sheet if you want. And I did want. I like that ability to fine-tune temperature control.
But occasionally, when Maïf changed the sheets (she does this more often than I), she'd skip the top sheet. Very sneaky, chérie.
Now, I'm converted. We Americans know that top sheets are tucked in at the bottom of the bed. Only problem is, that pins your feet. I never liked that, but assumed it was just part of this thing we call life. Not so. Turns out that a loose comforter is just that: loose, comfortable. Free feet are happy feet.
It's really a matter of the weather. It's coolish here above Lac de Neuchâtel in summer, and cold in winter. Maïf and I like to sleep with the window open even when the furnace is running. The comforter swaddles us like an upside-down bird's nest made of moss, holding our bodies' warmth. And if during a night's dreams, a toe or foot stumbles out from beneath and gets chilly, you learn to pull down the cover again with your toes without even waking up. Or if you get hot, your leg knows to slide out into the air like a cooling radiator.
What do you Americans think? Sleep on it.
By Bill Harby.
Bill Harby is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and Volcano, Hawai‘i. Yes, he loves chocolate and fondue, but raclette and Heidi make him nauseous.
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