On December 8, 1998 I was near Geneva on some business, and passing through the town where Alex de Sherbinin ’84 lives and works these days, so I stopped in for a brief visit. Just hours after landing, complete with jet lag, he picked me up at the Nyon train station and whisked me up into the hills. Geneva and Nyon are low altitude, along Lac Leman, but the land rises rapidly up to a ridge known as the Jura, perhaps 3000 feet elevation. As we drove up a windy road, the snow became deeper, and the views more spectacular, back across the lake to the Alps and Mont Blanc. We stopped in the little town of Saint Cergue for a little picnic lunch and to wait for the shopkeeper to reopen so I could rent some XC skis. When she finally returned, the neighboring shopkeeper scolded her, in reference to us, “These are the seventh people to come into my shop to ask when you will reopen, won’t you please put up a sign saying when you plan to return.” Even in my limited French I caught the gist of her resultant muttering about how she has the right to close when she wants, if she wants to close, she closes, etc etc etc.
A few francs later and we were off to ski on an amazing network of set tracks, in gorgeous conditions. It was a beautiful sunny day, temps just a little below freezing, and fresh snow. The trails rolled over gentle hills, in and out of the woods. The bright sunshine and the exercise pretty well eliminated my jet lag. There were few others out that day, being midweek, and most who were out were retirees about twice our age. I can only hope to be that active at that age.
Alex later took me by his office at the World Conservation Union (IUCN), across the street from his apartment where it seemed every window had a view onto the Alps, and around the corner from the WWF international headquarters. At the IUCN everyone seemed to be working on momentous projects in faraway places. Really neat place.
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