Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Melser Alpabfahrt" - Cows come out of the Alps!

OKAY!!!!! We got to see the town celebration of the cows coming out of the mountains. Little history: Many of the big bells worn are very old, owned by the farming families(names engraved/painted), placed on the barn/house walls when the cows are returned to the lowlands for winter but if the bells are gone - you know they've gone back into the Alps for summer grazing. They drive them up every Spring and back down again in Fall - in many little towns throughout Switz. The farmers are "highly" subsidized in Switz. as the tradition of moving the cows higher in order to use lowlands for other crops is not very cost effective anymore but is viewed as necessary in preserving the landscape as they know it.

I'm sorry for these mini-lectures but part of what we enjoy about traveling is understanding the "what/why" behind what we are seeing - Maybe a few of you reading will enjoy it too.

ANYWAY - It was Awesome! Our friends (& Bart's coworker), Matt & Jill, met us and we took the train out to Mels in "Heidiland." There weren't many people getting off the train in Mels so we were kind of wondering what to expect - everything was very low key. We followed the few people we saw into the town square and ran into Rachel's classmate from school, Valeria and her family as I had told her mother about this - it's a small world and well, Mels is a very small town! The town square was set up with some cheese, ice cream & pastry booths and there were the standard brats grilling (if you are ever in Germ./Switz. you must ask for the kalbbratwurst - Yummy - another blog maybe). There was a brief stir in the crowd as you could see a line of cows trailing down a road high on the hill but then they moved out of sight. So, we sit and eat some brats on the sidewalk before "things" were supposed to start - this event is to run from 12:30 to 4:00. Things were very casual on the street until we saw people begin to line the streets and could hear what at first sounded like a bad brass polka band. Then, the little sheperds/esses came thru and the farmers with the cows - there is no need for the crowd to make noise because the clanking of the brass bells was deafening! These are not the "little" bells like the cows wear by our house but these giant brass bells as big as the cows heads - as seen by the pic's. Those poor cows! We find out later that is why the crowd also stays subdued - the cows get nervous from the noise and all the people. I'm sure the whole giant bell thing was started by rivaling farmers long ago but this is a "clean" page and we won't go there.

There were big & little bells, big & little cows, goats, cattle dogs, lots of farmers (cow prodders) - watch your step in the road! And many of the older cows wore hats/baskets of flowers on their heads - all the arrangements were different and it was just a cool thing to see. They wound thru the streets of town and then another group would come and the beauty was that it was a small place, the crowds were not large and we had a great view of everything. You could pet the cows as they went by and if you turned your back were hoping you didn't get gored - there were a few fast moving cows. But this wasn't the Running of the Bulls - I'm sure Swiss cows never get that wild as it must be against the rules (you'll find us making many rule jokes - a required part of expat life here). At one point, many of the cows were hustled around the town square fountain so they could get water. They had black rubber mats draped around the fountain edges and the cows were free to take a drink - people are usu. drinking out of it but not on Sat.
So we had a thoroughly good time, it was a beautiful day and we have a LOT of pictures of cows.

Otherwise, the week was good. Girls had their first playdates and I started a Bible study on Thurs. Now that makes things seem as normal as anything. For 4 years I've done BS on Thurs. mornings and when I found out about the study here, same day - same time, it seemed so normal for me - Yeah. We are doing a Beth Moore study on Jesus - the One and Only. The ladies all seem really nice - we are a mix of US, UK and S. Afrika - and there are some fun personalities. I have really enjoyed and learned from the other studies I've participated in so am looking forward to this as well. Bart has a busy week ahead and the next week will get to go to NY for a training so I need to begin a "wish list" for him should he have time to do a little shopping and have enough luggage space.

Well, it's Sun. am and I must get off to get my little ones fed and off to church. God Bless!!!!

1 comment:

Josh & Sarah said...

I must tell you that Josh came home from the grocery store tonight with "Aged Cheddar" and it is WHITE. Thought of you and smiled. :) Yeah for Beth Moore on Thursday mornings. We're doing that study second semester, but I'm not sure if I'll participate in that one or not since baby #3 is due April 6th. :) You'll have to keep me posted on how it is, and I might decide to get through as much as I can before the baby comes. Excited to start The Patriarchs this week.