I scan the landscape: in the foreground a harvested field studded by trees, a band of forest at mid-range, long blue hills interlacing like fingers into the distance. But, bizarrely, there is something beyond that, something which rises far higher in the sky than is natural. Where I anticipate the clear blue of the depths of the universe, ‘stuff’ looms, faint but imposing, stamped on a space which is normally free.
I’ve been in mountains many times but viewing them from a distance over the sort of undulating landscape with which I am familiar literally stops me in my tracks. It’s the unexpectedness, their sheer improbability, that strikes.
This glorious rift in expectations based on land-of-birth geography stunned me on my first trip to Germany too. The BB drove us out of Zurich airport, north through Switzerland, through the quaint border town of Kaiserstuhl and across the Rhine. As we drove beside the long, strong water I was struck by the truly odd experience of being in one country, looking into another.
I’m used to the other side of a river being another paddock, another farm, another suburb. Other countries are accessed by journeys across oceans. Dotted lines on coloured paper do not prepare one.
And isn’t that one of the joys of travel, the being stretched beyond one’s own geography, the surprise of seeing another’s everyday landscape through the filter of one’s own?