Désalpe

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I’ve mentioned several times in the past that part of what I love about living in Switzerland is feeling more connected to the land and to the seasons. In both Cambridge and Pittsburgh, I experienced seasonality mostly through the weather and changes in foliage. My family has done some gardening over the years but nothing extensive.

Here we live close to vineyards, and I track the seasons by the height and volume of the grape vines. When I take the train to the university, I see fields full of colza or sunflowers depending on the time of year. Families of ducks and swans grow up on the lake and their plumage gradually shifts colors.

At the start of fall, farmers bring their cattle down from the mountains where they’ve been grazing all summer.

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Last weekend, my family attended a désalpe for the first time in Gruyère. Every family of farmers decorates their herds, and they bring the cows down on a schedule, creating a daylong parade.

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Artisans and farmers sell their wares in a market.

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There’s plenty of wine and beer and cheese along with Swiss food.

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And, of course, there’s music.

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The day was gorgeous, and despite some travel hitches (the road was shut down for almost an hour on our way up because of an accident involving a horse), we had a lovely time.

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