Life in the Swiss Alps: Why I live here
Diana Oehrli explains why she chooses to live in the Swiss Alps.
"What's your favorite thing about staying up on the alp during the summer months?" a woman asked a seven-year old local farmer boy.
"The sunrises and the sunsets," the boy responded.
This is why I choose to live here.
For those of you who don't know, in the summertime, many local farming families move up to higher pastures (higher than 1,400 meters above sea-level) to graze their cattle on delicious mountain grass and herbs. This is a time when they make their best cheese. The families live in huts using wood fires for warmth, and candles for light, as most do not have electricity (unless it's milking time, then the generators come on). This is a world far away from XBoxes, computers and other technological devices. This is a world where children have to rely on their imaginations for fun.
I like living close to nature and in communion with people whose lives are--for the most part--absorbed in in the evolution of life without hesitation or contradiction. Here, there is no alienation. Everything belongs. Everything is as it should be.
People often ask me why I've chosen to live alone in such a remote area. They ask me, don't you get stir-crazy? Don't you need shopping, cultural events, and people?
Yes, I admit. Sometimes it's fun to leave the mountains, view an exhibition or concert, wander busy streets, sip coffee in cafés, check out the latest trends and fashions, feel the excitement in the cacophony of traffic and voices.
Yet, for most of my daily living, there is nothing more soothing than living in a place where full moons are so evident that you can't help but pause to admire their roundness, their brightness, and the light they cast on ridges and slopes; or a place where stars twinkle above, their splendor still unmarred by light pollution. How about those sunsets and sunrises? No drama on stage can compare to a morning light illuminating the top of a mountain in a surreal glow. Then, there are the snowstorms that remind us of our vulnerability; and the droughts that remind us to conserve water; and the rain storms that replenish our aquifers and remind us to be grateful.
I find that being integrated into the constant flow of nature helps me to let go, to enter freely into its process, and become absorbed by it. Life becomes evident. Even as I've yearned for love, companionship, understanding, and fellowship, there have been times when I've pushed it all away with petty emotions, plans, and constant questioning. I've let hatred or pride cloud my perceptions, and in doing so, I've hurt myself.
So, as I let myself go, entering freely into the process of nature, I feel myself becoming absorbed by it. By integrating myself in that process, I find success. Then the sequence of things becomes as evident as the coming of the sun and moon, and everything is as it should be.
Reprinted with permission of Life in the Swiss Alps.
Daughter of a Swiss mountain guide and American photographer, Diana Oehrli grew up in Switzerland, the South of France and in New England. In 2002, she moved to Switzerland and fell in love with mountain life. With her two children, she now lives in a 300-year old farmhouse above the villages of Gstaad and Saanen, where she is working on a novel and on her blog lifeintheswissalps.com.
Photo credit: Giorgio Guzzetta (sunset in the Alps).
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