It is 6:16 am, and I am writing on the morning of my last day in Feutersoey and at Open Spaces. Having been to bed barely 2 hours before, I am amazed that I am lucid enough to write, equipped only with a cup of hot peppermint tea.
I would’ve slept longer, but with the continuous heavy snow, it’s early work for the snowblowers to clear the streets and for some reason, the playground next to the school. I’ve missed a few blogs in between: procrastination in part, distracted by days of creativity, and days of communing with the great Swiss nature. The missing blogs will be forthcoming, but right now, I am in the kitchen, looking out at the still dark. The first sounds — laughter and doors slamming — are filtering up the staircase. The ladies at the Lädeli — the convenient convenience store downstairs — are opening for business. It must be 6.30.
77 days have flown past faster than I thought. In less than 4 hours, I’ll be on the train to Geneva Airport, then to London, then in a few days, home. So, what have I learned here in those 77 days?
- I am grateful for my family.
- I love cool weather and snow!
- I love the way all white just changes the landscape, from magical to alien, depending on the time of day, the wind direction, and the eerie yellow glow of the streetlights.
- I can live away from home for an extended period and still feel at home.
- I create best when I create in comfort (insert cool, cold, not sweating) and using what is at hand.
- I like to travel…and I’ve travelled some this time on the bus (local), long distance (from Paris to Geneva and back, a few times), and by train. Oh yes, and there’s the plane aspect as well.
- I can get along with total strangers, in and enclosed space and become fast friends at the end.
- I love mountains… not necessarily to climb, but to marvel at how they got there, and what possible secrets they still hold.
- Walking the wanderweg (trail) along the river from September to December, I saw nature evolve, seasons change, and allowed that calming essence to soak into me.
- I could get lost staring out the window watching the weather change. It is nothing like watching paint dry.
- I love the fresh water freely available from the many many fountains that dot the alpine landscape.
- I really love the cheese…and milk. I’m severely spoiled now. How can I go back to UHT after 77 days of fresh from the cow down-the-road milk?
- I have great respect for Swiss cows and their keepers. My carnival works have been invaded by these beautiful beasts.
- Feutersoey, though small (even by its residents’ standards), is large on hospitality and welcoming, and in my opinion, it is best located for the splendid view of the mountains that I have woken up to for the past 11 weeks.
The list is probably going to run a few pages, so I’ll stop here. Suffice to say I have enjoyed this Open Spaces residency… the unlimited run of the schoolhouse, free accommodation and studio with heavenly view, meeting fellow artists who are all great human beings, and just being able to create and think in a different space, breathing deeply, crisp alpine air. Artists…you should come! Feutersoey feels like home. I am truly sad to leave.
At the beginning of this adventure, I wrote about angels stepping in when I was at my wits end. Well, angels were here in Feutersoey, and elsewhere in Switzerland, and stepped in when I needed them. Grateful, very.
One final thing, did I mention I am grateful for my family?
In the dedication to my 2012 short story collection A Patch of Bare Earth, I wrote that my family keep me sane. One day I came apart, suddenly and without notice… the way a dry-rot shoe does just when you need to wear that particular pair..or worse, when you are at your event, and you and your shoe part company. Family to the rescue. Bitch all you want about the quirks of family, but in my case, I never doubt the power of mine. Uber angels.
Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. Please contact me if you’d like an original painting made-in-Switzerland-by-me to add to your list of unique gifts for your colleagues and loved ones. Thank you to my family, friends, OLD and NEW collectors of my work!