A World Away from Home: And the Last

Our last day in Zurich, we decided to actually go hiking this time. We went on a short hike up a local mountain, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and the far mountains. It really is beautiful.

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Peekaboo view along the way.

We also met up with a friend I’ve known since elementary school who happened to have moved to Switzerland recently. It was really nice to catch up, since I hadn’t seen her since I graduated high school.

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Apparently it was a bit hazy so we couldn’t see all the mountains. Still beautiful.

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Countryside on this side.

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My sister forbade me from yodelling.

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There was a nice cafe at the top.

We took our time hiking, since my sister had previously managed to pull a muscle, but it was nice not to be in a rush. It was a popular trail, and the locals also used it for jogging. Definitely felt a lot like home.

Afterwards we decided to go into the city to do a little bit of shopping. And of course, since we were in Switzerland, we had to go get some Swiss army knives! And kitchen knives. Because it was about time we upgraded from cheap Costco knives to proper knives that cut rather than squish tomatoes (no more sad salads).

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Swiss army knives.

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LOTS of Swiss army knives.

The store was quite big, and had very impressive displays. I decided to get a cute little Swiss army knife to put on my keychain, and Ryan decided to get the actual Swiss army knife. A little bit of his and hers, I suppose.

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I can’t say I didn’t get it because the cat looks like Jerry

We also got some delicious Sprungli chocolate. The white chocolate was my favourite. It wasn’t overly sweet, as most white chocolate is. And it had a hint of a grassy taste from the type of cows they use. I should have bought more than one bar. It’s not cheap, but well worth it.

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Super cute little Sprungli cows.

Then we had to say goodbye to my friend as she headed home and we wandered back to my sister’s apartment to get ready for dinner. We went to her friend’s place for a barbecue dinner which consisted of lots of meat, bread, and delicious homemade garlic butter. Also two salads and tons of ice cream. (We tried to make oreo milkshakes but ended up with a kind of soft serve. Wasn’t complaining.)

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It was a wonderful day to be out and about, and a great way to end the trip. A week was way too short, but I’m glad that we went. Seeing family is always worth it.

Now that I’m home, I definitely miss Europe, and I miss the family I have there. But it’s also nice to be back in my own place, still surrounded by family and loved ones. It’s quite incredible, to be able to have important people in so many different places. There are so many trips to be had. So many places to see, and never enough time.

Until next time, Europe.

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A World Away from Home: Bergedorf

My grandmother lives in a small town call Bergedorf. It’s just outside of Hamburg, so it’s easy to travel to and from the city centre.

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Full of cute buildings

I have been there many times, so I have my familiar places, restaurants, and shops that I regularly like to visit.

My grandmother, of course, always likes to take us for steak. She was horrified when I contemplated getting a burger. (We are at a steakhouse! You must get a steak!) And one does not simply refuse her. She is very stubborn. In the end I did not regret getting steak.

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No cars allowed

Sitting outside in the pedestrian-only area of Bergedorf is always a treat. The buildings are gorgeous, and it is full of the murmurings of people.

There is a level of detail in the architecture that we do not get here in Vancouver. The intricate railings, the carved decor, the tower-like roof points.

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Would love to live in one of these apartments.

It’s very suburban in Bergedorf, but it’s comfortable. There are many open plazas where people sit and drink coffee and eat ice cream (eis). On Tuesday we sat with my cousin well into the evening, eating eis and drinking Hugo – a wine cocktail that she insisted we try (she could not fathom how we had never heard of it before).

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Hugo

You don’t see too many people rushing around with coffee in their hands. Here they sit and take their time sipping. There was a Starbucks in Bergedorf at one point, but after the initial hype fell away, so too did its popularity. Compared to the incredible bakeries and cafes, it fell short.

There are so many bakeries and cafes, in fact, that I sometimes wonder how they all stay in business. On every block there are multiple bakeries. Every train station has at least one. And they’re always bustling.

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Apparently this is a thing you can do in Bergedorf. My grandmother was politely horrified.

And during the summer everyone eats a lot of ice cream. Like, a lot. Which is fair, considering it’s delicious.

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The Castle

Bergedorf also has its own little castle. Everyone is, of course, very proud of it. First used in the 1500s, it remains today, now a museum and cafe.

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The entrance

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Gorgeous details on the door

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Because castles need moats

Small as it is, this city will always have a special place in my heart. Spending weeks here during the summer was a huge part of my childhood. And I think this town will always remain important to me.

That is

A presence, everlasting.

Love and wisdom. Knowledge in their eyes.

With each word, we change. Slightly, subtly.

Sometimes it is blood that binds us. Sometimes it is choice. Love transcends blood; cements what choice connects.

Nature’s hold is tangible in the increasing lines and slowing motions. But even She does not hold back our souls.

Sometimes a single glance. A clasping of hands.

“I know.”

Is all that is needed.

Your Kind of Love

You embrace, as if the word has never done you harm. Your heart remains open even when faced with iron walls.

Your warmth seeps from you to the ungrateful. You shiver, and they turn away, and you smile in understanding.

It is your kind of love that keeps the world spinning.

—-

Reflections on some of the amazing women in my family.

Her Child II

She hummed softly as she walked, her bare feet exciting the leaves that otherwise lay dormant on the ground. She trailed her hand along the rough trunks of the trees that she passed. So densely they grew that she had barely to step before she reached the next one.

Her eyes focused unerringly on the edge of the forest. Not even the howl of hungry wild beasts could break her path. She stared so wistfully into the distance, and into the past. Sometimes her hand would reach out towards a nothing that any one else could see. Always in her hair she tucked a fresh peony. They bloomed under her tender hands, no matter the season.

Her children had long since learned to leave her alone when she fell into these moods. Angered at having been interrupted too many times, she had once turned them into thin saplings that shivered in the cold and reached in vain for even a little sunlight to give them the energy they so desired.

She loved her children dearly. Upon each one she had bestowed a token of her love. And so they flourished deep within the shadowy protection of the forever aging trees.

But there was one… one who could not yet be with them. One who was caught within the webs of the humans. One she had put there herself.

She felt her heart clench every time she remembered the magic that swept over his features. That changed him. That allowed him to be taken from his home. That dulled his eyes until they resembled the melancholic clouds of clouds that heralded furious storms.

But he needed the guidance of the sun. The energy and warmth that would help him grow strong, so that one day he could join them and be once again with his family.

Her humming grew stronger and as she drew closer, she saw his figure rise tall and turn towards her. Her feet whispered forward and her hair glittered with promises. Soon.

—-

Another in the Changeling Child Series

Her Child
Changeling Child
Changeling Child II
In the Sun
Longing
Return
Torn

The Colour of Life Drained

“Don’t do that,” a stern voice had Charlotte jerking her hand backwards, away from the tepid water.

Her stepmother’s pinched face was frowning at her from the other end of the small dock. Her father had married her only a few months ago, and already Charlotte wanted her gone. It would probably never happen, though. Her father was enamoured. Always Mia this, Mia that.

When Charlotte had first heard her father’s girlfriend’s name, she had imagined someone young and inspiring. Someone who would want to spend time with her, giggling over romantic movies and Abercrombie models.

She had certainly not thought Mia would be like this. Strict, distant, and so… serious. Charlotte scowled and glanced back at the water, marveling at the contrasting colours.

The ocean, normally such a clear, brilliant blue, held swirls of gritty red that stretched like pointed, grasping fingers. She couldn’t help but reach back out to meet it.

She gasped as her wrist was caught and she was yanked backwards, falling painfully onto her backside. The worn planks offered no cushioning.

“I’m not a child,” she snapped, wrenching her wrist away.

Mia’s face was dark like a storm. “Even children have enough sense to listen.”

Charlotte pushed herself to her feet, unsteady as the waves rocked the dock. “I don’t have to listen to you,” she sneered. “You’re not my mother.”

Lips pursed, Mia straightened. “I will never be your Mother,” she replied stiffly.

Though Charlotte told herself that the words were what she wanted to hear, she could not help the pain that shuttered her face.

“She is someone I can never replace,” Mia continued. “But I am here now, whether you like it or not. I am here, and I expect you to be, as well.”

Charlotte stared, brows furrowed, feeling no guilt as she read the lines and the marks and the depths of Mia’s face. Then her eyes stuttered to the side, to the red creeping ever nearer.

“There is a reason it is the colour of life drained.” As Mia spoke, a fish floated past, belly up.

Charlotte could not look away.

“Lunch is ready. Your father is waiting.” Her footsteps drew away, and like a child, Charlotte followed.

Changeling Child

It was early. The sky was drowsily changing colours, but he was already outside in the small garden behind the house. The sun had barely poked its rays through the tree’s branches, still weak in its tired morning state.

He reached out and grabbed hold of some of the golden life. It flickered around his palm, confused. He cupped it gently, and walked to the small plant hidden under the massive bulk of the bushes. Their leaves rattled warningly, but he payed them no heed. Instead he focused on the stunted stems. Only weak swirls announced this plant’s remaining life. Unlike the trees and bushes that dominated the garden, this one was small. It would not last long without interference.

Morning dew crept past his pants and onto his knees. He murmured soft words to the light in his palm. It flared and pulsed an offbeat rhythm. His fingers tightened momentarily, then loosened, falling forward. And with the soft push of his palm, the light flowed forward in graceful curves, looping around the small plant.

It settled around it, a golden glow that surrounded each leaf. It soon began to grow, spiraling upwards until it broke past the shade of the neighbouring bushes. Buds formed, then blossomed. Bursts of colour exploded open like so many fireworks in the glowing sky.

When brightness faded, he finally stood. He smiled gently as the plant swayed its gratitude. He caressed the soft petals momentarily and then stepped back.

“Honey? Are you ready for school?” His mother opened the back door and looked out. Her lightly wrinkled face softened as her gaze fell upon him. “Still in your pyjamas,” she threw up her hands, and then her eyes flicked sideways. “Oh!” She exclaimed. “It bloomed! How large it grew! What a miracle. I was so sure it would not survive.” She sighed, her eyes filmed with nostalgic fondness. “The flowers your father would always bring for me,” she murmured softly, but he could hear every word. “That was how we found you,” her gaze returned to him. “Sleeping soundly in a bed of peonies. Such a tiny thing. And now look at you, all grown up.”

He glanced at the flowers in front of him. She had told him many times how he had been found, how they had taken him, and how they loved him as if he were of their own flesh and blood. Though they had not given birth to him, they were the ones who had given him everything.

He smiled and walked back towards the house. “I could see the flowers from my window.” He said as he ushered her inside and closed the door. “I had to go look.”

Others in the series:

Her Child
Changeling Child II
In the Sun
Her Child II
Longing
Return
Torn