Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lausanne, Part 2

June 4, 2010, continued

Yesterday, Mauricette and I walked down to Lac Leman and then took the metro up the hill to the area where she works. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant where she often eats. I ordered the “res de veau” which, she told me, translates to veal thymus. I thought it might taste something like sweetbreads, which I like. It was delicious. The meat was slightly crisp on the outside but soft inside, and was served over noodles with a delicious, light cream sauce with chives and other, delicate spices in the French mode.
Then, she went to work and I walked over to the cathedral and sat for a while on a bench in a little park in front of it overlooking the city of Lausanne and Lac Leman beyond. Then I wandered through the cathedral, meditating on the stained-glass windows, especially some blue ones, very high up. It’s a classic gothic cathedral, built during the 12th and 13th centuries, I believe – simple but elegant. I don’t know how many of the windows are original. Those on the south side seemed to be newer (etched/painted glass?), but I’m really not sure, and didn’t see any information on the windows. The closest thing to a rose window was an odd circular window in the southern transept. There was also a huge array of organ pipes arcing over the nave just beyond the vestibule – a relatively new one, I believe.

After a couple hours at the cathedral, I walked back to the museum and wandered slowly through an exhibit on evolution entitled something like: “Oh, My God by Darwin,” primarily a history of the ideas contributing to the theory of evolution, as well as evidence for the soundness of Darwin’s approach, from the ancients (Aristotle) to the present (Watson & Crick,  comparative biochemistry, etc.).
Later, on the train from Lausanne to Milano.
We are in a tunnel, now, but before that, as the clouds lifted and the day brightened, the famous Swiss mountains loomed through the train window, angling high above a green valley dotted with small houses, the bright spring green of deciduous trees climbing the sloping sides to sheer rock faces, mingling with, then giving way to the dark green of evergreens and snow still covering the top peaks and trailing down crevices. Here and there, a waterfall tumbles over a cliff in a graceful, white spray against the slate gray of bare rock. It reminds me of the thrill of my first time seeing the Swiss Alps and thinking I wanted to live there sometime. Was it during a car or bus trip that summer I worked in southern Germany (1957)?  And, of course, I thought of the year when we lived in Switzerland ('86 - '87). Although we did not have mountains visible from Basel, we took several short train rides to mountains throughout the countryside. I remember a couple, in particular, Rigi Kulm and the Jungfraujoch, that were utterly spectacular. And the green topped with jagged white also reminds me of mountains in Alaska that Dick and I saw on our R.V. trip there.
What about mountains is so emotionally compelling to me?  I don’t necessarily want to live in their midst, but I like to see them in the background. White, jagged peaks. Looking up and up and up and seeing the bright sky above snowfields buried in clouds. Lush green undulating unevenly up the mountain sides, interrupted here and there by crushed rock of an avalanche. Then looking back and back, through crevices, to a lonely glacier half buried in shadow and icy mist.


  1. Jo Anne- We never visited Lausanne when we were in Europe. It sounds beautiful. I know you spent time in Korea so you know how special mountains are in that culture. Mountains are mystical and fascinating....geologically and spiritually....

    1. Yes, the Korean mountains are special. They are gentler than the Swiss Alps, and I understand that Korean culture venerates mountains. The amazing grave mounds in Kyongju are smaller man-made mountains that mirror mountains visible at a distance from where they rise. While in Korea, I read a fascinating book by David Mason, an American ex-pat, entitled: Spirit of the Mountains: Korea's San-Shin and Traditions of Mountain Worship. What is your Korean connection?
      And yes, Lausanne is beautiful: the lake, the surrounding mountains, and the medieval architecture, including nearby castles and churches.

    2. Tricia, now I know who you are and the Korean connection! Critters and Crayons!