09 December 2009

A Swedish Playdate

This morning, as luck would have it, Sanna and her small charge William were free for a playdate! Sanna is my Swedish friend from down the street, and William is one of Jules' little friends from school. They live very close to us. Thus, they quickly arrived at our house, and thus began our playdate - a playdate which started innocently enough, but which ended up becoming...well, actually, it stayed innocent, but turned out to be a whole lot more fun than we had originally planned...

First, whilst drinking English Breakfast tea with Sanna, I was suddenly prevailed upon by my spontaneity to make Christmas cookies, it being that time of the year in which baking Christmas cookies is generally accepted as an appropriate thing to do. This idea was met with much enthusiasm by all involved. I was, moreover, prevailed upon to add a great deal of food coloring to part of the cookie dough, managing (as you will see) to turn the dough brilliant shades of red and green, a procedure which made Félix very happy and caused his eyes to twinkle.

With much gusto, Félix, Jules and William, decorated the cookies with lots of colorful sprinkles.

The cookies went into the oven looking rather yummy...

...but came out of the oven looking rather pathetic; in fact, the red and green cookies were completely disturbing.

The boys loved the cookies anyway, although the red ones somewhat resembled the treats we give our dogs. When this was pointed out, Jules refused to eat any more red cookies.

So I said, "It could be that the green cookies taste better than the rest." This was said so that Sanna and I could eat the cookies which were not red and green. Félix declared that the cookies "didn't taste green at all." And although the flavor we were actually going for was not so much "not green" as "incredibly yummy," Sanna and I decided that our Christmas cookie endeavor was a success. As it is, tonight as I write this post, most of the cookies - red, green, or otherwise - remain uneaten.

After lunch, we broke a marmite with the boys. The marmite has an interesting story, as you shall hear...

Back in 1602, as I understand it, Geneva was being invaded by the Duke of Savoy. For those of you who never read anything more informative than blogspot, Savoy is an historical region located in what is now parts of France and Italy. Geneva was an extremely wealthy city-state, and the duke wanted to make it his northern capital.

But as the duke's soldiers climbed the walls of what is now "Old Town" (but was then just "Town"), one woman had a solution to the problem. Her name was Catherine Cheynel, and she was boiling a seriously huge pot of vegetable soup. The reason she was boiling so much vegetable soup was that she and her husband, Pierre Royaume, had fourteen children, and I'm guessing that meat for that many people wasn't cheap even back then.

So she took her pot of soup, right, and dumped it on the soldiers who were climbing the walls, thereby being heroic, but not really helping out that much. She did kill one man, and also helped cause a good commotion. Her kids also went hungry that night, which once again proves that it's hard to be a hero both inside and outside the home. Catherine Cheynel is now generally referred to as "Mère Royaume," or Mother Royaume.

But anyway, there's a song about the Escalade now, because "L'Escalade" is what the event is called, "escalader" being the French verb for "climb." The song has sixty-eight verses, and no, I can't sing it.

So back to the marmite to finish up this delightful story of soup and death...

The marmite is a small chocolate pot filled with marzipan shaped like vegetables and fruit, made to represent Mère Royaume's pot of soup. The youngest and oldest person in the room are supposed to hold hands and triumphantly exclaim, "Ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République!" ("Thus perish the enemies of the Republic!"). Then, still holding hands, they smash the chocolate marmite in one fell swoop - and then in the second fell swoop, all the children grab the candy and run. :-P Well, that last bit wasn't all that accurate, but the candy and chocolate are usually devoured fairly quickly, by children and parents alike.

Here is a picture of us devouring the marmite:

Adjö! Ciao! Bye!
That girl in Switzerland

P.S. Ok, so the only thing Swedish about the playdate was Sanna (and William is half Swedish too)...but my title got your attention, didn't it? Besides, when I named it that, I was actually in the process of failing to upload a video of Sanna teaching me some Swedish words. Quite funny, actually.

08 December 2009

Happy Birthday, Jules!

Firstly, a random mood update!! Today I am feeling sardonic. *Heather sneers at the computer screen.*

And now for the next several completely unrelated things...

Today was Jules' birthday. He turned five. He is very proud of himself, what with having reached an important age and all. Charlotte and I made cupcakes, completely from scratch. They were very fluffy. And Yummy! Here are pictures.

Tonight for Jules birthday, they had a Chinese fondue, which I love. They followed it up with chocolate cake and Armagnac (adults only...haha...can you imagine..."Mom, now that I'm five, I think I'm ready to drink hard liqueur"). Me? I was at French class while all this partying was taking place.

Also, Geneva has up CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!! *Heather sings at the top of her lungs, "It's the most WONDERFUL time of the year!!"* Here are two pictures I took tonight in the Jardin Anglais by the lake:

Cheerfully sardonic, and also paradoxically,
That girl in Switzerland

19 November 2009

Some Fun :-D

Here are some pictures of Jules. :-D

That girl in Switzerland

18 November 2009

Perspective + Some Autumn Crafts

This morning, whilst feeling musical, I turned on some Charlotte Church music on my ipod and began singing loudly. My Charlotte Church imitation is nothing to be sneezed at. Jules and I were doing some craft projects at the time. So after a few songs, I asked Jules if he liked my singing.

"Yes," he said, "but you know what? If you keep singing really high and a bird comes, he's going to get bigger and bigger and EXPLODE!"

I'm assuming he's seen "Shrek" recently, but his comment was no ego boost, let me tell ya.

Here are some pictures from today:

Jules's depiction of the neighborhood's animals...He's not much of a drawer, but he does try. There are our two dogs, Jenny (blue) and Teacake (large brown), and also two more dogs, Bo (larger black) and Filly (small brown), and also a cat, Raffy (very small black):

Our spiders ("art" for boys...hah):

Jules making designs with those little plastic pieces (no clue what they're called):

Jules with our scary spiders:

Being crazy:

Jules being...well...Jules:

Moi (photo courtesy of Jules):

That girl in Switzerland

10 November 2009

Five Minute Rhyme

Today was a big day -
Was a lot to be done.
I made a huge list
And accomplished a ton.
I wired some money
And went to the Poste,
I managed three children,
And cooked artichokes.
I studied for French class
Until my brain ached,
Then took a short break
Down by the lake.
I walked two big dogs
That needed to GO!
They walked quite quickly;
I walked quite slow.
I traveled three hours
To Nyon and back,
And studied my Bible
To pick up my slack.
Had coffee at leisure
(It's never a rush),
Said hi to a friendly
Old man on the bus.
Of things needing done,
I think I did most,
But writing a poem...
This project's burnt toast.
Tomorrow I might write
Something quite new,
Something inspired
That impresses you.
But now I'm so tired,
I'm going to bed
'Cause more of my brain cells
Are obviously dead.

(...must have been the coffee...)

That girl in Switzerland

Just Me. And That's All.

Dear Readers,

Last February, somebody asked me to define myself. "Who is Heather?" they asked. And after scratching my head and feeling bewildered and realizing that I had nearly no idea, I came up with a trite little answer, emailed it away, and thought nothing more about it until tonight.

Tonight I was thinking about God. And about me. And about who I am as God made me to be. And I was thinking about the unique path that God created for me even before I existed. And I was thinking about how I don't know exactly what that path looks like, and how it's scary to trust what you don't know. And I was thinking about how it's so easy to get distracted from following that path because I'm too busy trying to live up to somebody else's idea of who I should be.

Tonight I was asked the question, "What would it look like for you to completely trust Jesus when He says, 'You, follow me'?"

And I realized that the answer to this question lies in two places - who I am, and who Jesus is.

Jesus is love, loyalty, bravery, sacrifices, patience, hope, light and righteousness. I am the sum of my choices and experiences, and hopefully some of the characteristics of Jesus. Jesus takes all of my successes and failures and joyful times and broken dreams, and turns them around into lessons and growth and love and peace. He takes the best and worst parts of me, and turns them into something beautiful, something that reflects Him.

Jesus came to give life, and life more abundantly, life to the fullest. The only one getting in His way is me.

Jesus wants me to be who I am and to look a little more like Himself every day. He wants my heart to reflect His heart. He wants me to find my identity in Him. And that's all.

I might not know my path, and that might be scary, but I do know Jesus, and He takes all the fear away.

It's just a simple truth. So obvious.

So after taking a second look at my "trite" definition, I've decided it isn't so bad.

"What makes me, me? It's quite simple really: my failures, successes, fears and insecurities, confidence, family, friendships, opinions, beliefs...a passion for people, a couple of failed relationships, about one and a half severely broken hearts, a tendency to reflect on everything in words that never get spoken to anyone, and a strong love for God that actually does leave me speechless; essentially, I'm me because of my ability to embrace human experience and turn around a better person."

I'm just me. Me enhanced by Jesus Christ. And that's all.

That girl in Switzerland

08 November 2009

To Those People Windsurfing on Lake Geneva in November

I should have thought that
The now-perpetually snow-covered
Mountain peaks, or the
Glistening orange and red horizon
Below them, or even the
Very chill in the November air
Would have clued you in.
Shouldn't you be waiting for spring again -
Polishing your boards,
Buying new sails,
Storing away wet suits,
And then anticipating warmer winds?
Now it's time to exchange scenery -
To move to the brilliantly white slopes,
To the boards that need no sails,
To the glaring sunlight that bounces
Off of goggles and ski poles,
To the winter hats and scarves and gloves.
What drives you to the less-forgiving,
Shockingly cold, breath depriving
November water of Lake Geneva?
Is it merely the enticing wind and waves,
Or is it also the needing to know you're alive?

That girl in Switzerland

28 October 2009

Trying to find a new style...


I wrote that email at eight thirty
On a cold January morning
After a sleepless night in which
The weight of a dark, wet dawn
Hung heavily over my tear-rimmed eyes.
(The footprints of those filthy memories
Which used to haunt my nights
Have now carved deep pathways through
My waking thoughts where
Every day they tread.)

It's nearing November again,
And I dread the death, the cold,
And the chill in my heart.
(Not forgetting the sixteen weary ways
Of reminding myself of how
I never quite measured up.)

I wish summer were beginning again,
But if it were, I would have
To relive Memorial Day.
(And then I would have to picture
A scraggly tree, and hear
My own nervous, breathy laughter,
And wonder why the familiar strains
Of that now-memorized song
Won't stop playing its
Endless soundtrack in my mind.)

But my waking nightmare is okay for now.
It reminds me to pray for you every day.
(It's comforting to think that
We might be friends again
Someday in Heaven,
Even though you don't believe
I'll make it there.)

I'm trying to enjoy this new autumn.
(But April thirtieth was last night,
Eight thirty on a January morning
Was just the other day,
And November sixteenth has wrapped itself
Around me like a badly-fashioned
Faux-fur winter coat.)

The bottom line is -
Some anniversaries just aren't worth celebrating,
But it hurts much worse to forget.

Trying to find a new style...
That girl in Switzerland

07 October 2009

Month o' Sundays

Over several Sundays in September, I was priviledged to go with my host family on several very cool family outings. I thought I would post some pictures here since everyone complains that I post too much poetry... :-D

The first Sunday in September, we went to a small town in France called La Clusaz. It is about an hour's drive from Anières, Switzerland, where we live. We were having company from Barcelona for the weekend, so it was basically just a fun day trip for all of us.

Here are some pictures from our day trip to La Clusaz:

My fabulous host family - Arnaud, Charlotte, Félix (7 years - Mr. Coolness), and Jules (4 years - my little monkey).

Charlotte and Jules riding the luge d'été (summer luge).

La Clusaz in the background with part of the summer luge track in the foreground.

Félix playing putt-putt - I kept score. :-P

The Sunday after we went to La Clusaz, the family and I went to Cirque Knie...the Swiss National Circus! Cirque Knie has been run by the Knie family for five generations now - they do all of the animal training, and hire on the other acts. It's great fun! This was the third circus the Grobet family had invited me to, and it's always so much fun! Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos, but here is a link to the acts from last year and this:


The very next Sunday, Félix had his caisse à savon - a soap box race! Although the traditional and fun thing to do is to build your own car, the Grobet family cheated a bit and bought one that had been made by somebody else for a race last year. Just to demonstrate how much things cost over here...they paid over six hundred Swiss francs for it.

The racing started very early Sunday morning, but I slept in and met the Grobets in Corsier after lunch. I only wanted to stay an hour or so and see Félix race once before I left for church. There were quite a few kids racing - I think sixty just in Félix's devision. Félix placed sixteenth, so he was quite proud. :-)I can't wait to do things like this with my own family someday.

Here are some pictures of the caisse à savon:

Félix and his awesome car and outfit. Doesn't he look cool?? :-)

A few of the other contestants' cars.

Part of the track down the hill.

Félix driving past on his way down the hill!! (He had a wreck just before this picture was taken.)

And finally, last Sunday...for lunch Charlotte made American pancakes complete with maple syrup! I definitely thought that it deserved a mention. Félix helped flip them, and he's still talking about how he made me American pancakes for lunch and how they were the best ever. (And they really were the best ever...Aunt Jemima mix from the American store. Charlotte is so thoughtful.)

So here are two final pictures: one of Félix feeling proud of himself, and one of my "second family" and their American pancakes.

I love my host family!

That girl in Switzerland

02 October 2009

Ten Apples Up On Top - or more like two, in this case

Today Jules stayed home from school. He is sick, sort of. He has a weird malady that shows up in the form of "bug bites" all over his body, and especially on his hands. So he's been doing a lot of itching, scratching and crying. Poor Jules.

So...because I'm the fille au pair, I create instant fun...

Jules and I love the book "Ten Apples Up On Top," which is a simplified Dr. Seuss-y sort of book, though written by somebody else who's name I can't recall and can't be bothered to look up, although "Theo" rings a bell.

The characters in this book basically run around seeing who can balance the most apples on their heads. They get chased by angry bears and hungry birds who are all trying to take the apples. It's all very tense - Who will balance the most apples?? Will the bears get the apples with the deadly mop?? Will the birds eat the apples?? - at least until the end of the book when all of the animals conveniently crash into a huge apple cart, there is a huge apple explosion, and everybody (even the birds) ends up with ten apples on the head and a big smile on the face.

Jules and I read this book today and attempted to balance apples on our heads, which is a very hard thing to do. If you have never tried it, I suggest you do, so that you can appreciate the difficulty of what you're about to see.

Here is Jules' first attempt (note the red dot on his forehead):

Ok, so that was a fail...

Here is his second, successful attempt, minus one apple:

Here is my attempt (digitally captured by Jules the photographer):

Do you KNOW how hard it is to balance two apples on your head, hold a book, AND still manage to smile?? It's HARD!! Those animals in the book might have been able to balance ten, but we were doing well to get two!

Anyway, after we dropped the apples a hundred times, they weren't good for anything except HOMEMADE APPLE SAUCE!! Which turned out to be fabulous, and which, of course, Jules hated. Anyway, fun times, fun times.

I love that my world revolves around children.

It's all in a day's work, folks,
That girl in Switzerland

20 September 2009


Late summer evening,
Tonight my thoughts speak in prose.
Haiku's close enough.

That iron man sits
Forlorn among the tourists.
He's seen too much rain.

That girl in Switzerland

18 September 2009



My world is larger than yours, Reader.
I delight in unturned stones,
In toadstools and butterflies.
Strange words that rhyme
Make me giggle and chant.
I imagine hidden worlds,
Monsters and fairy rings.
Roses, to me, are redder
Because I see each one.
Toys and insects are all
Actors in fascinating stories,
But I cannot yet decipher letters
Or perhaps even write my name.
Singing loudly, for me,
Does not require a car,
Or a shower.
When I see a rainbow,
I shout to you in excitement,
And you, for my sake, deign to
Repeat my exclamation;
But you did not experience the wonder -
You, who have read of science
And of refracted light.
For now, my cage holds only
Colorful balls, wild abandon
And innocence.
How sad that I, the meek,
Who have only just
Inherited the earth,
Will learn from you
To trade it in for
Money, alcohol, sex,
And a handbag that
Matches my shoes.

That girl in Switzerland

08 September 2009

Ongoing UNESCO World Heritage Project

I've decided to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I can in my lifetime!

UNESCO, as you may or may not know, is a specialized branch of the United Nations that has been working since 1945 to preserve places of cultural or natural value worldwide.

I first became interested in these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the summer of 2008 when my sister and I took a "sisters weekend" to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina, specifically visiting Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, and the surrounding miles of beautiful landscape. Since that trip, I have been keeping track of the Sites I've found on my travels.

Below I have listed the World Heritage Sites I've seen so far - nine countries, twenty-two sites! I'm really excited about seeing how they add up over time and about searching for new places to see! In fact, in just the next few months, I will have the opportunity to add quite a few more to my list, so stay tuned!


1. Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg
2. Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape


3. Historic Centre of Prague


4. Colonial City of Santo Domingo


5. Palace and Park of Versailles
6. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims
7. Paris, Banks of the Seine
8. Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
9. Historic Site of Lyons


10. Masada
11. White City of Tel-Aviv
12. Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
13. Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee
14. Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls


15. Venice and Its Lagoon
16. City of Verona


17. Old City of Berne
18. Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch


19. Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church
20. Tower of London


21. Great Smokey Mountains National Park
22. Statue of Liberty

Please note that the previous is not a summary of the countries or places within those countries that I have visited, only a listing of those very specific sites officially recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre as places of enduring cultural or natural value.

I am really excited about my new goal! There are 890 sites on the World Heritage List, but as many are in Asia, Africa and South America, I haven't had a chance to visit those...yet.

For more information on the World Heritage Centre, visit http://whc.unesco.org.

And thanks for reading!
That girl in Switzerland

01 August 2009

A German Tale

This is a story about a girl, a boy, and a castle. Now before you go getting the idea that this is a romantic tale, let me set you straight on the matter. There is no romance in this story. There is a good deal of insanity, bravery, death, and pain involved, but no romance. The girl and the boy were sister and brother, you see, and they were touring Europe in the summer, as sometimes brothers and sisters like to do. If you haven't tried it yourself, you might think of doing so. Just pick a sibling and off you go, and I shouldn't wonder if you will find yourself having a fantastically good time.

This girl and her brother were having a fantastically good time. They had already seen a good bit of Europe by the time that this story takes place. In Venice, Italy, they had seen a great many boats and a great deal of water but not very much grass.

They had also seen the Piazza San Marco, which was over one thousand years old. The girl found that this piazza was a popular destination for both tourists and pigeons, and she wasn't sure which of the two she liked least.

In Salzburg, Austria, in the very room in which the famous composer Mozart had been born, the boy had been yelled at by a tour guide not to take pictures, although the girl had sneaked some pictures anyway.

High in the Austrian Alps near a tiny town called Obertraun, they had gone to the very top of a mountain and seen caves full of ice, and they had taken pictures with glaciers and mountain lakes and scenery almost too good to be true.

In the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic, they had, almost unbelievably, found the first Starbucks of their journey, and so had taken great delight in the overpriced coffee while waiting for the right sunlight in which to get good pictures of the Charles Bridge.

The girl's brother was a photographer, you see, and that point is crucial to this story. If you don't understand that, you might not understand the rest of this story, and then what is the point in reading it at all? You may as well stop reading right now if you skip over the fact that the thing this girl's brother liked most in the world was to stand very still in one spot with his camera perched neatly on its tripod and take pictures of huge landscapes or famous buildings or old bridges. Sometimes he would stand in the same spot for hours on end, doing nothing but stare into that end of the camera into which it is appropriate to stare, if you aren't the subject of the picture. And while he did this, the boy's sister would sit patiently, no matter how high the sun, or how drizzly the rain, or how badly she needed to find a restroom.

Sometimes the girl would find things she wanted to photograph as well. She had a smaller camera than her brother's, with not so many buttons on it, which was fine with her. Over time she had found that she loved taking pictures of the very small things of the world, things like flowers and bees and rocks.

But on the whole, the girl didn't love photography quite as much as her brother did, and so naturally she sometimes didn't quite share the same level of eagerness to climb mountains or to locate the very highest point of every city, or to wake up before the sun.

She sometimes thought that if she didn't count the exercise she was getting out of the deal, it would all be a bit pointless. But overall, she was very content to follow her brother through rain and shine, to carry his coffee, and to hold his camera lenses, because she knew that doing these things made her brother happy.

On the particular day that this story takes place, the brother and sister had gone to a small town in Germany named Füssen. Füssen was a beautiful town that had a monastery which was nearly twelve hundred years old, lot's of curvy roads that went either up or down hills, depending upon your perspective, and parks and scenery that would make you want to stand very still on the top of a hill, close your eyes and breathe it all in.

Very near Füssen stood two castles. One of these castles was called Hohenschwangau, which was where the German royal family sometimes spent weekends.

The other castle's name was Neuschwanstein. This castle was famous for two reasons: firstly, because it had been built in the 1800's by a king who was later declared insane; and secondly, because a very long time after it had been built, it's beautiful design had inspired a man named Walt Disney to make a castle just like it in another country. The girl thought that both of these things were fascinating, especially the bit about the insane king, and so she was very happy to be visiting the castle on the day that this story takes place. She and her brother were both excited to see the unbelievable view and to take some incredible photos.

But after a very long, hot walk up a hill that never seemed to stop, both the girl and her brother were disappointed to find that the best view of the castle wasn't much of a view at all. To be sure, it was a very pretty castle, at least what could be seen of it from below on the road, but even if you strained your eyes all day, you couldn't even hope to see all of the castle, and no matter how you turned your camera, it wouldn't all fit into the frame.

The girl and her brother took a tour of the castle. They hadn't come all this way to see only one wall of the castle, after all. It was a very interesting tour. The guide spoke an enchanting mixture of German and English, and she seemed to say "ja" quite often. The girl was entranced by the sheer loveliness of each room. The girl's brother, on the other hand, learned more than he had hoped to about the German composer Richard Wagner, to whom the castle had been dedicated. Each room was painted with ethereal scenes from different Wagner operas, and the girl had trouble sorting out which paintings she liked most.

Everything was going well until the brother looked out of one of the high castle windows. They had looked out of several windows of the same sort and the view was always spectacular! The girl often thought after it was all over that if she had been the insane king, she would have chosen to build a castle in exactly the same spot, just for the view.

But from this particular window, a high mountain ridge loomed up in front of the girl and the boy. All of a sudden, the boy exclaimed, "There's somebody there!"

"Where?" the girl inquired.

"Look!" said the brother, pointing. "Do you see that person in the red shirt high up on the ridge? We have to figure out how to get up there! That's where I'll get the best shots of this place!"

He was so excited that the girl merely nodded in agreement, although the idea of trekking up an obviously dangerous ridge didn't sound so appealing to her.

Soon the two siblings exited the castle and began their search for the trail up the ridge. They climbed up a road that led to steps, and those steps led to a bridge, and that bridge crossed a deep gorge through which a small river ran, and across that gorge, the ridge rose up, claiming the sky for its own on that sunny afternoon. Just across the bridge, the road turned into a narrow bumpy path which wound it's way up the hill.

The girl and her brother had just begun their walk down this path when the girl spotted a very tiny something on the edge of the trail. This very tiny something may or may not be called a trail itself, for it led directly up the incline. It was littered with slippery tree roots upon which to hold, precariously balanced rocks upon which to step, and very small bits of loose rock that looked like it might make the going very bad. A wooden sign posted on a tree at the bottom of the trail read "Danger! Do not leave marked path!"

And so of course, as fate would have it, the boy decided that this path, though clearly not the marked path mentioned on the sign, would be the one to take them and their cameras up to the very tip top of the ridge. He took off at a steady clip and the girl thoughtfully stared after him for a moment before setting off herself.

They climbed on for awhile in silence. It was hard to climb straight upwards, stepping onto shaky rocks and grabbing muddy roots, all the while trying to stay upright and safe. The view down wasn't helpful either, as it made the girl feel very anxious for her safety.

The girl began to imagine what it would be like to fall over the edge of the cliff. She wondered if she would land on rocks or if she would crash against a tree. She imagined her brother running for help. She finally made up her mind that if she fell over the edge, she would prefer death to the humiliation of being air lifted out of the trees while hundreds of spectators gaped from the castle walls.

It wasn't too long, or too far up the hill either, for that matter, before the girl tripped on a particularly slippery stone and began to fall. With a hard crack, her knee struck the very rock upon which she had just tripped, and she gasped as the pain shot both ways, up and down, her leg. Grabbing onto the closest tree root, the girl held on for dear life.

The pain was so distracting that she didn't even notice how her chin crashed into a tree root, and it wasn't until later that she realized she had acquired a good layer of dirt on her cheek. In fact, it wasn't until after she'd had a chance to wash off the dirt that she found a nice-sized gash just on the bottom of her chin, and even later in the evening before she discovered a lovely tennis-ball-shaped bruise darkening over an equally tennis-ball-shaped lump on her leg. More than a month later, this lump was still causing her problems, but for now we'll stick to the story.

"I wonder," thought the girl, "if anyone has died while climbing this ridge. I wonder if anyone has ever just...lost their footing and slipped right over the edge." She was thinking these things over as she climbed shakily and painfully upwards, and she soon found the answer to her question, for she came abruptly to the top of the incline. There in front of her the path made a sharp turn to the right, and straight ahead the hill dropped off a steep cliff. On the very edge of the cliff was planted a small metal cross with a name and date clearly engraved on a plaque, which was fixed to the center of the cross.

"Gudrun Böse, 27.8.1966," the girl read silently. She looked to where her brother was moving away up the path. "Look," she called, "someone died here. Maybe this path isn't safe."

The boy turned around and ambled back down the path to where the girl stood looking at the cross. He gazed at the cross for a moment himself.

"No, of course this path is safe," he said at last. "That person probably wasn't being careful. Just don't be stupid and you'll be fine."

After pausing momentarily to consider Gudrun's feelings over having his death labeled as "stupid," the girl turned to continue the climb, all the while praying the top of the ridge was near.

At this point what a poetic end it would make to this story if the girl lost her footing, just as apparently Gudrun Böse had forty-three years earlier, and as she fell she managed to catch hold of poor Gudrun's cross and pull herself back up, thereby both living and turning Gudrun's death into something a little more worthwhile than it had been. But that isn't how this story ends. In fact, it has such a non-eventful ending that maybe you will just want to stop reading here. The truth is that, despite the girl's fears, both girl and boy successfully made it to the top of the ridge. They were careful not to trip over the many tree roots which created small obstacles in their pathway. They were equally careful not to step where the mud was too slick or the rocks too shaky.

In time, the boy called over his shoulder, "I think we're close to the top!"

And it was true! Just as the girl, with her leg throbbing, had just about had enough, the steep climb ended. The small upwards trail joined with the larger path which all the time had been winding up the hill in a safer route, and the ground leveled out to an only-slightly inclined, easier walk. Now that she didn't need to use her hands for climbing, the girl stopped to take a few pictures and have a drink of water.

Very soon, the brother and sister arrived at a beautiful little clearing on the very edge of the ridge. They were high enough to see countless kilometers of landscape. The could see two lakes and both castles, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, not to mention a blue sky with puffy white clouds that the girl felt sure God designed just to take her breath away.

The boy immediately unpacked him photography equipment and began doing what he loved most.

The girl sat down to catch her breath, pulled down her ponytail and shook her hair out to blow in the wind.

Presently, she picked up her own camera and began taking pictures too, of very small things as usual, although she eventually asked her brother to take some pictures of her and the castle for which they had climbed all the way up the ridge.

The siblings took quite a few pictures before they made their way back down the mountain. On the decent, they took the longer, winding path, and the limping girl felt much safer for it.

The boy and the girl went on to have many other adventures on their European summer vacation, and the girl was very glad to get on with it now that she felt the scariest part of her summer was over.

They biked the lovely Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland.

They paid a visit to the highest train station in Europe and saw an incredible amount of ice and snow.

And they both eventually returned to America where they had a happy reunion with their family and friends. After some time, the girl wrote a blog post about the journey that she and her brother had taken. It was fun to look at the pictures and imagine she was in all of those places again, but it made her happy to know that she was finished with the muddy, ridge-climbing day and all of the injuries that had come with it. And she was very glad that she hadn't died in Germany.

Happy Reading!
That girl in Switzerland