Farm in the City

ImageThe other day as we walked to the forest for Jillian’s bridge-building celebration, out of nowhere we heard sheep baaa-ing.  We were walking next to a corporate office of some sort, so this took me by surprise.  

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We’ve been here long enough, so I don’t know why I’m still surprised to see farm animals in small patches of grass alongside a busy street.  Or on a corporate lawn. 

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Throughout the city, there are barns and tiny pastures, seemingly, everywhere.  And all that separates them from the busy streets are little strips of electric fencing.  Which has been a fun experience — keeping Ellen’s hands away from the fence.  Quinn, always inquisitive wants to know exactly what it feels like when the fence current comes around.  I admit, after trying to dissuade him from asking for the tenth time, just tell him to go ahead and touch it and get it over with!  So he does.  ‘Oh, so that’s what it feels like!’, he says.  🙂

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Forest School :: Waldschule

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Yesterday we got our first glimpse of the Forest Classroom!  Over the past 12 or so weeks that the kids have been in Swiss school, they’ve been taken into the forest for various school projects — to celebrate the start of Spring, for hikes and to roast sausages, and to build bridges.

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Over the course of two days, Jillian’s class studied bridges and experimented with ways to build them.  Starting small, they first used bits of clay or jumbo marshmallows as ‘piers’ and bamboo skewers and sticks to create a model.

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Then, using larger pieces of wood and cable ties, the class was given tools — and minimal instruction — to create a full size version!

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To celebrate the construction, parents and family were invited to bring cake and drinks to share.  I wish that I had taken a photo of the drinks!  We brought some sparkling water and Apfelshorle (carbonated apple juice).  The other parents brought Prosecco and a case of wine!  Good times.

We all got a chance to test the bridges.  A little scary at first.  I admit that baby Frederick wasn’t allowed to cross the bridge….baby in a cold stream seemed like a bad idea.  The bridges were surprisingly strong!

Then the kids (with help from the parents) took their bridges apart, cut off all the cable ties, and made a bonfire.  We ate cake, drank wine, and enjoyed nature.  What a great experience!

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Orchestra Flash Mob

Today we attended our first ever Flash Mob.  It was a blast!

Above is a photo of the Zurich main train station, the Hauptbahnof.  Normally, a pretty bustling place, but today the energy turned frenetic when out of nowhere musicians from the Tonhalle Orchestra and dancers from Zurich Tanzt / Ballet joined forces to give 5:00pm commuters a treat.

Today kicked off a festival to celebrate the ‘culture and create City of Zurich’. I’m sure I lost something in the German-English translation, but nonetheless, the cultural intervention was fantastic!

Follow this link to YouTube to see the Tonhalle Orchestra Flash Mob in action: http://youtu.be/sfLjfAkhSdQ

Travel by Boat

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Without a doubt, my new favorite way to travel by public transit in Zurich is the ZVV Schiff.  The Zurich public transportation system includes all the usual suspects:  trains, buses, trams / streetcars.  Then, one day someone mentioned traveling by boat.  And it turned out that we have an easy port right in our village!  So easy!

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We don’t have a car here, and don’t plan to get one.  There have been only a few times that using a car would have been a convenience, but so far the public transportation system has been excellent.  And the boat system is a huge perk!   

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The kids love it!   There’s a restaurant on the lowest level, restrooms, a bar, and several sun decks.  Check out the inside:

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If he wants to, Peter can pick up the boat from home and arrive at the Tonhalle about 20 minutes later.  Anyone who comes to visit us will definitely have to take a boat ride …  it’s just a requirement!

Anyone know of other cities with this kind of public transit?  

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May 1st is Swiss Labour Day / International Worker’s Day

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Happy May Day!  Here in Switzerland this means that all the shops, except for Starbucks, are closed for the day to honor Swiss Labour Day.  

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Switzerland has a smaller number of worker’s belonging to trade unions (about 25%) than it’s European counterparts.  In Finland, a whopping 70% of workers belong to a union!  

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We are spending the day in a manner fitting the US Labor Day:  Kicking back with a glass of wine (for me) and beer (for Peter).  The kids are drinking Apfelshorle and running around the playground like animals.  

Thinking of all of those today, and those before us, that have helped to eradicate poor working conditions and instituted child labor laws.  Raising my glass to those who fight for fair pay and job security.  Cheers!