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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Magic of Emmental

My in-laws have visited Switzerland several times, and they love to tell of their experiences there.  In their guest room, I found this children's book, and after a few days, the cover art prompted me to read it.

The story is set in the village of Trub, located in the Emmental region of Switzerland.  Its 1400 residents are surrounded by twenty-four square miles of land, nearly all of which is farmland and forest.  

Emmental's claim to fame is its cheese, and I use Emmental cheese every time I make fondue.  But author Ferdinand Steenaerts asserts that Trub is about more than cheese.  We follow his young protagonist Hans through the seasons of the year, and watch him in his daily activities, such as milking the cows, working in the dairy, fishing in a stream, taking his animals to market, harvesting grain, hunting, and assisting the lumberjacks.  

Steenaerts paints such a compelling portrait of Man living in harmony with Nature that at first the miraculous passed me by.  It was only on my second reading that I realized how precious traditional Swiss life was to the author, when Hans startles a young deer.  Instead of shying away from him, the animal allows him to pick it up, and carry it to his mother.

I frequently reap the benefits of modern marvels such as microwave ovens, televisions, cellphones, and Wi-Fi.  Yet I also feel the allure of a simpler existence, where Man lives more in harmony with the seasons and the world around him.  While I don't plan on trading my computer for a scythe anytime soon, The Boy From A Village Called Trub makes me want to visit this seemingly timeless place.  To fish in its streams.  To see a village market-day.  To hike around placid farms and through thick, forbidding forests.  And, in late Fall, to watch the cows, adorned with flowers and jingling bells, make their long return from the hills to their cozy, warm barns.  Perhaps there I'll feel some of the everyday magic Ferdinand Steenaerts describes in his book, perhaps not.  But at the very least, I'll see some beautiful scenery, experience some wonderful things, and of course, be able to sample some delicious cheese.

Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
A Surprising Discovery
Dining Like a Swiss Philistine

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