The Bucolic Haven of Tranquility Myth

I live in a village in the Geneva countryside. It is a bucolic haven of tranquility. It has a school, church, gas station, corner grocery shop, a hair dresser, two restaurants, and an ill-defined gathering place down by the river.

From my house I see the Jura out one window and the Salève out another. The Rhone River tinkles merrily at night. The owls hoot. The bats flit.

We don’t need alarm clocks in our village. The barrier at the French border is unlocked every morning just before 6 a.m. If the first volley of cars and motorbikes without exhaust pipes doesn’t get you out of bed, then the first flight into Geneva Airport (today it was the 6:10 from Ankara) will.

A FARMER has spent an estimated £55,000 to import a flock of the world’s cutest sheep to the Scottish Highlands. Valais Blacknose sheep are only found in Switzerland where they are “worshipped” by locals for their “black hole” faces, shaggy coats and spiral horns. Raymond Irvine paid around £5,000 a time for 11 sheep - 10 ewes and show-winning ram King kong - making it the first herd north of the border. The sheep are so valuable he has installed CCTV and brought in guard dogs to stop them being stolen from his farm near Tomintoul, Moray. Raymond and girlfriend Jenni (corr) McAllister got a surprise when it turned out one of the ewes was already pregnant, giving birth to Scotland’s first baby Valais Blacknose.

You have time for a coffee and shower before the army troop transporters roll in at about 8 a.m. The recruits have days of shooting, days of explosions, and quieter days when they come with rolls of orange tubing used to pump water from the Rhone into a parking lot in the woods. This is probably a top-secret maneuver, and as we all know that loose lips sink ships, this must only be spoken of in hushed whispers.

The army training area is conveniently located inside the bird sanctuary, and some human houses have also recently been built where the more traditional nests once were.

The field over the road with the curly-horned black-faced sheep is being developed into a long grey bunker-building containing 24 apartments. In this way even more people can enjoy village life. Construction work usually begins at about 7 a.m., shortly after the garbage has been collected from the various underground metal containers.

no sheep anymore 4-new

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Living in our village, one feels connected and alive. A few years back Icelandic volcanic ash grounded many planes. This coincided with bridge repairs so the road was closed. Rip van Winkle-like the village slept solidly for two whole weeks and we awoke refreshed and longing for some action.

Fortunately, the church bells are at the other end of the village; the monster agricultural machines and the techno-raves in the woods are entirely seasonal; and the air-raid sirens are only tested once a year.

And yes. In the little field out back cows with bells occasionally still come to snack on my hedge.

Photo de tête: Rip van Winkle, héros bucolique de l’écrivain américain Washington Irving. (© 2007 Publications International, Ltd.)


Joy Kundig

Joy Kündig-Manning est née en Angleterre et a vécu au Canada. Spécialisée dans la littérature anglaise du XVIIIe siècle, elle a travaillé comme traductrice, enseignante, et écrivaine. Mariée à un Suisse, elle est venue à Genève en 1977. Elle est très contente de tenir le premier blog du Temps en anglais!