- We live in a village* that’s functionally kind of a suburb, but still very much rooted in farming and, being Swiss, has a strong community thing going.* Sometimes that means weird village events that give me an enjoyable sense of living in Stars Hollow. (They had a hay maze? We had a hemp labyrinth!) This is especially so in the case of the four-yearly Watterfäscht, celebrated this past weekend. A lot of villages have festivals, but I humbly submit that ours is more.
- Two festivals ago, for example, we set a Guinness-recognised world record for the biggest wine bottle. Some other Swiss dude played copycat and stole our title, but that’s okay, in 2015 we made the biggest corkscrew. Why? BECAUSE WE CAN. I love it. This year, though, was frankly disappointing (on the record front – the rest of the festival was great). We went for the biggest Weinaufgiesser, i.e. wine pourer/funnel – but they did the simplest possible version, the basic foil circle that you twist up and stick in the neck. Not very impressive, and then to test it, they just showed that it could in fact be inserted in the giant bottle; no actual pouring. No Guinness representative present, either. I mean… they set the bar so high previously. Total let-down.
- Never mind that. The festival is a joy in itself. I love the cobbled-together bike carousel, the barns moonlighting as nightclubs, the way every possible club in the village (and that’s a lot of clubs – everything from scouts to firefighters to choirs, and of course the gymnastics club, which does a lot more than gymnastics) finds something cool to do and offer. Part of the fun is an extension and distillation of the everyday pleasure of community: bumping into friends and neighbours, connecting for a moment, helping out, being part of it. I’ve been very enjoyable aware lately of how enmeshed I feel in this place – how nice it is to walk around and to know most of the kids I pass, to have them greet me (and frequently tell me immediately where my kid is, because hey, I might be looking for them!). It feels pleasantly supportive. And the festival takes that up a notch or 10.
- This is where I do my regular “kids growing up makes everything better!” refrain. I enjoyed this fest a lot more than the last one, for the simple reason that we could do more. And I am happily looking forward to doing even more next time round. Not just the entertainment part, also the helping out. We did our bit this time, but next time, more. I think.
- Finally, a little example of Switzerland’s extreme weirdness: yesterday included the Swiss national sliding (bobsledding) championships, starter event. Meaning: just the starting part of the race, no actual sledding. Meaning: pushing a bob for a few metres along rails. That’s it. An actual medal competition. Just the part before you do the actual sledding. In the video below, I’m standing right at the finish line. This is weird, right? Come on. This is weird. Armin insists that it really makes perfect sense (because this part is crucial to performance in the main event) but COME ON. I mean, weird is good, obviously. But it is weird.
* We have a village anthem. No lie. The chorus translates as “We’re good – but we’re not the best.” Because Switzerland.