First snowfall

Brief but beautiful.

It rained all day yesterday, and rained hard all night long. At first light today, I looked out the window to see blobs of snow falling amongst the raindrops. Although the air temperature was above freezing, it must have been cold higher up. The snow/rain mix continued for about an hour, with little of the snow sticking to the warm, wet ground. It’s a beautiful sight, and also a reminder that the warm side of fall weather may be with us only for a few more weeks.

Season’s first snowfall at home.
A few snowflakes cling to the fallen leaves.

Spring snow

A dusting of snow, after spring had already arrived.

A snowy morning on Zurichberg.After hiking in a t-shirt on Saturday – a balmy day (close to 20ºC) – I was surprised to wake this morning to see snow covering Uetliberg – the hill on the opposite side of the city.  As I climbed my usual route to Zürichberg I soon passed through above the snowline and, where just two days earlier I saw families out preparing their tiny garden plots for the new growing season, the daffodils were covered in a dusting of snow.

Spring snowfalls are nothing new to me.  But what surprises me is that this is only the fourth snowfall I’ve seen in Zürich this year, and none of them have dropped more than one or two cm of snow, even in the higher terrain.  So I’m wondering: when is it ever winter, anyway?

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Paxmontana

A lovely 48 hours at Hotel Paxmontana in a tiny village outside Luzern.

I spent about 48 hours at the lovely Hotel Paxmontana in the tiny village of Flüeli-Ranft, outside Luzern Switzerland, for a research-group retreat.  One of those grand countryside hotels, recently renovated, Paxmontana is nestled above a valley with a 180-degree views including two lakes and several snow-capped mountain ranges.  Behind the hotel is a narrow stream valley echoing with the bells of cows grazing its with hillside pastures – and the bells of several small churches that enjoy reminding everyone of the time every 30 minutes, around the clock.Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.

Despite our short visit, the weather and light shifted frequently – from overcast to sunny, from light drizzle to heavy snowfall – leading to opportunities to photograph the same scenery in dramatically different conditions. I attach just a couple shots here; check out the photo gallery for more.

The valley is best known as the home of Bruder Klaus, also known as Nicholas of Flüe. Born in 1417, he is the patron saint of Switzerland.  “Despite being illiterate and having limited experience with the world, he is honored among both Protestants and Catholics with the permanent national unity of Switzerland.”   He left his family to live as a hermit in this tiny valley, and (according to Wikipedia) had a “reputation for wisdom and piety” that caused many to travel from afar to seek his advice and counsel.  Soldier, farmer, hermit, ascetic, saint – interesting fellow!Pasture near the Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.