Summer, Week 3: Along the lake

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Kids playing on top of the perfect fort.

I didn’t keep my promise. I never went back and told you about my summer, did I? I’m going to try to write a little bit this morning since I don’t want to do real work anyway.

During my first weeks in Switzerland I stayed in Zürich to explore the city. The first two weekends I walked around and went to the major art museums and at the recommendation of my host, swung by two flea markets. The previous week was also Google Zürich’s 10 year anniversary party and I had met a friend of a friend of a friend who told me her favorite place in the city was the walking along the East side of the lake towards the Chinese gardens. With that in mind and a lovely day overhead, I set out at lunchtime to go on the walk starting from the main train station.

It looks a little something like this:

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It’s a super short walk but I found myself walking extra slow to savor the people around me. I kept looking for patterns in people. Trying to see what they were talking about, what kind of people walked in which group. I wondered if I didn’t have my camera if they’d think I was just another person from the city. It’s either the cities I’ve lived in or the Europe itself, but I feel like I see people hanging out in public spaces so much more often in Europe. Or maybe it’s because when I travel I feel like it’s ok to got outside and just sit so I see it more. But when I visited Pablo in Vienna he told me that’s what he missed about Europe, just getting to hang out by a fountain with a group of friends all night.

I passed by this man energetically playing a bag pipe and had to stop to listen. He was really good and was playing with so much energy. I remember on the way back he was still playing and so I got a coconut ice cream and sat and watched for even longer. When he packed up I had the urge to follow him to see what else he does with his time. Was he a full-time musician? A student? Did he go into the office on Monday? But right away he made a turn that wasn’t in the direction I was going.

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I had brought a book with me, The Design of Everyday Things, that I thought would be nice to sit and read somewhere. So all along the way I was keeping my eye out for the perfect little spot to sneak away. Somewhere by the lake maybe. Or a bench. The city seemed so thankful for the lovely weather and people seemed to be filling every nook and cranny of the park. It reminded me of an impressionist painting with the huge bushy trees and the groups of people in blooming in the sun. And when I got closer to the the green part of the map the whole park opened up into a huge lawn where families and couples spread out enjoying the summer day, even if it was a tad overcast. A couple of portable grills were smoking away for the smart people who planned the day ahead.

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When I got to the very end of the walk where there was a little point of land, I was so confused. Was it snowing?! All around me white fluff swirled around. Delicate pieces of the clouds themselves were fluttering to the ground. It honestly took me a little bit of time before I realized it was dandelion petals hovering in the air, it was so thick. I tried to record a movie of these heavy flakes floating onto a bright green landscape, but it didn’t quite take. I feel sorry for anyone who might be allergic to these.

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Once I got to the end and found out that the Chinese gardens wasn’t just a park but an actual botanical garden that you had to pay to get into, I decided that the walk was lovely enough. (It was actually only 4 CHF, but the mood wasn’t quite right for me).

It was such a beautiful day. I circled around this area for far too long looking for the perfect place to sit and read. Here’s the part that I’m actually not that good at: relaxing. Walking at least still felt productive, but could I actually leisurely read? Who knows. But I did know it had to find The Perfect Spot or it definitely wasn’t going to happen. It became clear that this search was causing me some anxiety so I finally just parked myself under a tree somewhat near to the children playing on top of the tree in the first picture. I laid my jacket under my head since the ground was a little moist and pulled out my yellow book. Periodically children would under my tree and scream and their parents would follow after politely trying to shush them away. It was also clear that I was going to fall asleep on this hill and not really get much reading done.

But what was really lovely is, when I looked overhead there was mesmerizing patterned formed by the silhouette of tiny leaves against the bright sky. It seemed like the tree was dissolving into the sky.

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Coming back to the present, it’s fall with winter creeping in. Today’s high is 39 degrees fahrenheit and I’m wearing a bulk sweater. The yellow and red trees are balding and I’m finding myself wishing to to on long walks again a few more times before snow comes. No matter how cold it is.

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