Orsières, Switzerland, and the Great American Outdoors Act
On a quiet, unassuming day in late July, President Donald J. Trump signed in the Great American Outdoors Act. Now, you might ask yourself, Orsières, Switzerland and the Great American Outdoors Act…what have they to do with one another? I will get to that. But, this is a post most definitely about nature and the preservation of.
Preservation comes in all shapes and sizes
Switzerland is a historically old country which was officiated in 1291. Today, we’re at 700+ years later and honestly, you’d never know it, but I mean that in a good way. Switzerland is not a land that is decorated with named monuments or national parks. In fact, Switzerland has 1 National Park, with 14 regional parks under it scattered throughout the land. This was a huge surprise to me, because after all, I am from America-the land of Roosevelt and National Parks!
But something clicked for me this trip. While traversing through the old historic mountain towns which have withstood the test of time it occurred to me that if we don’t take care of what we have conquered and preserved over the past, it will deteriorate, fall to pieces and just plain be forgotten. Not at all a novel thought, but sometimes the obvious just hits you. It is a gift to see the past via art, architecture, objects and artifacts. Yet nature always remains the same. That is, if you preserve and take care of it.
Nature defines itself
Every time I’m in nature-be it a trip to the Pacific Ocean, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Orsières, a walk in the back forest, etc., it literally grabs me. In it’s unassuming way, nature and I connect with one another. Nature is large and in charge. She is grand, she is present, she is welcoming and she encourages us to carry on her tradition of preservation.
You see, Switzerland has taken a different kind of approach to nature. I believe, they have chosen to live with nature in their every-day life. Some are able to call this home-every day. Welcoming these views from your kitchen window, or your drive to work is a normal way of life for many Swiss.
As you can see, many small towns remain scattered throughout the many Tahl’s (valley’s) and they are thriving, not forgotten. Many of these towns have residents who raise animals, make cheese, open bakeries, raise families, become tour guides, work in neighboring towns-but they do anything they can to remain there to pass along their lineage, and to keep their roots to the region.
Something else that is unique to Switzerland is their “wanderweg” or walking path systems. Throughout Switzerland walking signs is a common sight. Giving endless directions to walk, coupled with the time distance for each walk. Along with the path poles is a visibly marked yellow diamond reassuring walkers that you on the correct path. It’s a very special, unique system that I have only seen in Switzerland. You can count on this system never to get you lost, as it always guides the way.
Mountain spring water
You can also count on fresh running mountain spring water just about anywhere you walk. These lovely displays are called ‘brunnen’, or fountain. Water quells that have been captured via melting glaciers once stood in the center of towns providing the water needs to each household. Today, it’s a preservation of the past and a welcome sight to any thirsty traveler.
You see, there are many approaches to preservation. Those that have it in their culture and adapt life around it as the Swiss do. Or in our case as American’s, those that are particularly named and protected. I like both approaches. Nothing beats the spectacular beauty of the Grand Canyon, or the granite slopes of the Yosemite Valley. I’m happy as an Amercan, this is available to us. It’s just sad however, that we don’t adapt more of a presence with nature in our every day life as the Swiss do.
The silent therapist
So many great things come from enjoying the great outdoors. It unifies any group of people who happen to be walking together. It gets you out of the house, off your electronic devices and forces you to just embrace the beauty and the calm. So may occasions we leave the house bickering, and end up close and engaged with one another after just a few short minutes on our journey in the great outdoors.
Nature has that way about her. She wants to share her beauty with anyone who’s willing to take. Step into her world and explore, embrace, inhale all that you can about what has been there for a millinea-long before you and long after you, she will thrive. But we do need to take care of her.
The red string in this article is preservation and it’s many forms. Getting back to the original statement: Orsières, Switzerland, and the Great American Outdoors Act. Sometimes, help lends itself from the most unsuspecting characters. Who would have ever thunk that a President with such a controversial short history would be bothered in the funding of $1.9 billion dollars over 5 years, to restore our natural parks to their once vision of beauty. Trump claims he was sold on this act of preservation 5 minutes into the pitch lead by representatives on this Great American Outdoors Act.
Even the hardest of the hard enjoy beauty and can recognize that if we don’t step up our efforts to keep what we have…soon it will be lost and forgotten. And, who wants to tell that to this group of nature loving people…