Victoria Jelinek

The Baby Diaries 20

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

pussy willow in winterClear, crisp air that feels like it’s cleaning your pores. The squeak of your shoes in the snow. Mountains on all sides rising so high against blue skies that they look false. Glacial run-off creating rivers that you can feel the cold emanating from when you walk near them and can hear in the quiet of the night. Little crosses and chapels dotting the hills. Chalets with snow logs on their roofs to keep the snow from falling on their inhabitants. Red shutters. Copper roofs. Darkened and aged wood on the older homes. Sunshine that tans the face even as you wear several downy layers. Pussy willow trees. Skiing and waffles and chocolat chaud. Beaufort and Tomme cheese made by special cows in the Alps and local farmers, sold at the market each Saturday. Men in thick wool sweaters smoking while driving their snow plows and tractors. Mountain lakes so clear that the colors range from dark blue to aqua. Population explosion in the winter and summer bringing big, fancy 4wd BMW’s, huge tourist buses and queues for the gondolas. Paragliders, climbers, skiers, hikers, bikers, snowboarders. Helicopters overhead. The sound of avalanches and the explosion of dynamite to set off controlled avalanches. The smell of pine and wood- burning stoves. Nights so brightened by the moon that you don’t need artificial light and your body casts a shadow. The single light on the mountains indicating the snow machine levelling the pistes (ski areas). Tartiflette, fondue, and cremeaux in the evening as Haute Savoie fare. Quiet nights. Starry skies. Snow and ice.

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