I took an afternoon walk with my fussy baby girl when my husband was working at home, and my son was watching Peppa Pig playing bouncy ball with her friends.
Having crossed underneath the Mont Blanc bridge to the lakeside from Rive commercial street, I saw some construction workers tearing down the ferris wheel and the outdoor bars in front of it, which made me realize that summer had officially gone. I felt a bit sad as I remembered my son would shout aloud excitedly every time we drove by the bridge or walked in the garden, “Look, mama, it’s the big Ferris wheel!” Thankfully, we’d just had a family ride on that giant wheel last weekend, enjoying the aerial view of the city landscape without knowing it would be our last one this summer.
Then I looked up, noticing touches of yellow had appeared among the dark green leaves.
We’d experienced the most unexpected this year and still are facing much unknown. Nevertheless, time faithfully marches ahead, season changes, and autumn, the most colorful season in Switzerland, has set in motion, gracefully unfolding its full glory.
I strolled to the fountain centered in the English Garden, sat down at a green wooden bench, and listened to streams of water splashing.
The chill under the shade called for my blue cotton cardigan. As I put it on top of my short sleeves white and black striped T-shirt, I noticed my daughter had fallen asleep in her stroller, which signaled the moment I’d been waiting for had finally come!
I took the book out from the baby bag attached to the stroller handle, opened to the bookmarked page, started my afternoon reading— my self-care for the day.
Twenty minutes later, my daughter’s soft cry pulled me out from the life of Chanel Miller, where I’d smiled and cried along. I enjoyed her writing a lot.
Time to go home. I pushed the stroller along the lake, watching the wind open Jet d’eau aside like a curtain on which a half rainbow is standing just above the lake. Someone was feeding the swans bread crumbs, which attracted many seagulls and sparrows to hover, waiting for their opportunity to snatch some pieces.
Only three people sat at the lake-facing, open-air bar. There was no queue before the ice cream stand, beside which stood my son’s favorite carousel covered with a giant dark green slip-over.
I saw a couple seemed to be in their 70s, white hairs, and wrinkles, sitting on a bench facing the lake, without masks, smiling, chatting. My heart leaped out upon the view; a warmth flew through my body as if this happy couple virtually hugged me.
According to the Deep Knowledge Group, Switzerland has ranked the safest country for Covid-19 in the world. No doubt, the Swiss government has done an excellent job supporting local businesses and protecting the vulnerable.
However, what I see from day to day is the vivid resilience and a bend for promoting unity in so many Swiss citizens, old and young. Walking on the streets and looking into people’s eyes, you don’t smell fear, but a sense of unyieldingness and tenacity. Most people walking outside don’t wear masks except for the elderly, since mask-wearing is only mandatory in public transportations, indoor places, and shops.
Back in March, when the country was in semi lockdown, a note written in French stuck on the hallway of our apartment building, read, “If you need grocery shopping, please contact us in this number. We are happy to help.” They are our neighbors.
2020 has left so many of us undone, yet the setting sun remained the same fashion, mosaicked in a bloody sky, and painted a sparkling path across the water. That rose gold path at the center of the lake seemed to be a way to a new season of hope, gave me one more reason to believe that no matter how hard and unpredictable life may be, kindness, bravery, and beauty can always be found.
I smiled back at my smiley, cooing baby, and said to her, “Are you hungry? We are almost home!” I glanced my watch, speeded up a little. It would be just in time to get home and make dinner.
We were going to have Chinese beef stew with rice that night.