It had been a few hectic days of travel. Le Train du Chocolat had left the kids with a sugar high to last a lifetime and the journey back from Gstaad, where we had managed to book front row driver’s view seats on the train, had me jumping with excitement to the point that my hands and neck started to ache – old age – from continuously holding the camera and moving around to take photos.
As a result, my wife and I decided to treat the kids by letting them sleep till late and in doing so give ourselves a little break from our break.
For a change, we had our morning coffee together, in some peace and quiet, without the rush to get ready and get out. While she wandered around the apartment afterward, taking in the freshness that mornings like these bring, I sat by the window and looked out, at possibly the best view one could ever witness;
The street outside, charmingly named Rue du Village, was quiet with only the occasional car passing through; cautious as one would be in hilly areas but confident because they’d probably been driving here for years.
This street wasn’t always so quiet, for just the night before, we had had some excitement as a police car chased a thief on a bike and caught him right outside our window. The kids had been both animated and confused on seeing a boy no older than twenty get handcuffed. I couldn’t help notice that he, despite being restrained, was more concerned about combing his hair every few minutes – In case you are wondering, those of us whose hair has long departed early on in life, often notice such “hairy” actions.
My thoughts from the previous night were interrupted as I noticed that the flowers in the garden right across from us were in full bloom. I made a mental note to go there with my daughter and take some pictures. No use asking my son. He had made clear that no photograph of his was to be taken during the entire trip. Sometimes I pray that he truly is an old soul in this selfie-obsessed world.
It had rained the previous night and nature all around was bright and colourful, clean and smiling.
Looking further below and I felt a warm fuzzy feeling as it dawned on me – once again – that I was surrounded by vineyards. A little patch lay in-between the houses on the hill, ready with grapes that were at the conception of their journey to become wine one day. How cool was that I thought, a vineyard for your neighbour and a life where your very existence would eventually result in something so beautiful and appreciated the world over.
And then I looked to the right, at the castle-like structure with its pointed clock tower which stood quietly and elegantly in the distance, as if occupied by a sleeping princess dreaming about her prince.
In the real world, little princesses and princes would soon descend upon it, as that was the village school, and it would burst with youthful energy and enthusiasm within a few hours.
My daughter had only a couple of days before stated her joy over watching Swiss kids go to school in the morning when she didn’t have to. Children can sometimes derive pleasure from the simplest of observations.
Just then, I heard my son call out for his mom, checking if we – or maybe, only she – were still around. We were. My daughter, who was woken up by the noise, made a mooing sound in irritation asking no one in particular to let her sleep.
There’s a certain warmth and comfort in these morning activities, and I couldn’t help but smile as I looked out once again, my hands still comfortable by the cup of coffee that I was savouring slowly.
I spent the next few moments admiring the humongous tree outside the window to the left. Its roots, visible with age, and its height and size a confirmation that while people around it have come and gone, it has stood there, in that very spot, for decades, not yet ready to give up on the view.
I could see why it was difficult for the tree to let go. I would do the same if I could. It still wasn’t the oldest tree in the village though as we had driven past one nearby that was even bigger and older, and while I couldn’t see it right now, I knew that it too stood firm, not far away, looking out, just like I was.
As the misty darkness of dawn faded away, there was a sudden transformation. With the light came the pleasure of admiring Lac Léman in all its shaded beauty. Different colours of blue blotched across this magnificent lake that is often lazily labelled Lake Geneva – although, I wouldn’t make the mistake of calling it that around a local.
On this day, it lay flat in the distance, grand, calm, parts of it still hidden in that last battalion of clouds which had been slow to retreat.
The lake has a life of its own, both under and above, but today, from my vantage point, I could only admire the latter. Just as the first boat of the day slowly chugged along leaving behind a stream, a little part of the lake at another spot turned brown from all the muddy water that had washed down from the hills, with the rain.
The rain had been a reason of concern for the locals as the vineyards weren’t getting enough sunlight – essential at this time of the year – and wine growers had been working extra hard removing leaves on vines to allow the charitable rays of the sun penetrate through to the grapes.
The boats on Lac Léman began to arrive and depart at regular intervals, irrespective of the changing weather, bringing locals and tourists alike to and from Vevey – that Swiss town which is famous for being the headquarters of the giant conglomerate Nestle. The company’s massive offices, also noticeable from the window where I stood, dominated the waterfront just as its products dominate the world.
I heard my wife call me to clean-up the vintage wooden table right next to me – which made for a remarkable food photography background – for our little monster was up and at two he had the kind of destructive energy a man in his mid-thirties would be extremely jealous of.
I picked up the empty bottle of Triade – a beautiful and recommended local wine from Association Vinicole de Corseaux, made with three different grapes – along with the glasses that were a reminder of the fun we had had last night, and kept them for washing. Then I set out to make breakfast – my favourite meal – as there was still time before the curtains lifted for the next act of this grand view.
I love to cook breakfast; Omelettes and fried eggs with local artisan bread, olives, and a freshly made salad with colourful leaves, feta, and bright red juicy tomatoes. Cold cuts for me and wonderful Gruyère cheese for the rest of the family.
A box of cornflakes was set out next to a bottle of milk. The table that had been empty for only a few minutes was once again teeming with delightful Swiss delicacies, the type that one could be satisfied by for an entire day.
Breakfast over, with no real hurry to bathe the kids, my daughter headed back to her room to finish the movies she had made me load up on the iPad. The little brat ran around the apartment, troubling his mother at first, only to come by the window next to me when she refused to give in to his demands – which are mostly for chocolate.
Watching me look out, he asked, “Papa, what are you looking at?”
“Son,” I said, “I am cherishing in wonderment this view, which has a beautiful tendency to transform into a completely different yet elegant vision by the slightest of weather anomalies.”
“Look” I went on, further explaining to him “the rain clouds in the farthest of the mountains weren’t here this time last year, and no one expected them to overstay their welcome, yet here they come, indifferent to the plight of many.”
He looked at me for a few seconds with a face that could only mean that his “old man” has possibly lost it, and then ran away back to his mother, without saying a word.
For now, there is clarity in the sky and in my mind, thanks to a full tummy and the wakefulness of the morning coffee. With the absence of clouds, the scene becomes delectably dramatic as the snow-capped mountains across Lac Léman, in France, come to sight, their grandeur evident.
The sun was fighting a battle of its own today as it had failed to melt away the snow that enveloped these very mountains. Having been unsuccessful in its task so far, it seemed almost eager and hasty to get the job done as quickly as possible.
The town of Saint Gingolph, which sits on the Swiss-French border, across on the other side of the lake, was finally in sight.
I had, the day before, heard a story of how the locals had seen the town burn from their vineyards, at the end of the Second World War, as the Germans left it in ashes before withdrawing. From a distance, it seemed no different from any other town in any part of the world, and I wondered if the wounds of the past had healed over time?
If I stretched my eyes to the extreme right, I could catch a glimpse of Évian – or what I thought was Évian – a town we planned to visit soon, famous for the expensive bottled water found the world over.
And then, just like that, clouds began to descend again, as if they had used this time to regroup and make another attempt to take over the beauty they believed to be theirs alone. The sun might have won the battle for a little while, but today at least the war was in the hands of the clouds.
This to and fro between the sun and clouds is my favourite time to view this scene, and a perfect way to treasure a lazy morning in Corseaux. The clouds would continue to play hide and seek with the mountains and the lake until the very end of the day and at night give way to the twinkling lights in the faraway towns, across the lake, which made me wonder about life and if there’s someone out there looking back at me at that very moment.
AH! It seems the kids are starting to get restless now.
Too young to admire the beauty that I see before me, I must now excuse myself as I take them to the nearby Chaplin (as in Charlie Chaplin) children’s park in the adjoining village of Corsier. This will hopefully tire them – before they tire us – a little so that my wife and I can return back to this view in the afternoon, as it will inevitably alter once again, and I wouldn’t want to miss that for the world.
Ever since that lazy morning in Corseaux, I’ve had this panorama engraved in my mind; a view so spectacular, I would look at in awe and marvel and wonder, how could so much beauty exist in one single frame?
Sometimes when I think about it now, it has a soothing and calming effect that is hard to find elsewhere.
There are so many places in the world that might be as pretty as the view of Lac Léman from Corseaux, but maybe there’s something in the air, or it’s the people, perhaps just my state of mind, but somehow, nature and life in Switzerland takes on an enchanting personality of its own that simply cannot be ignored.