'Loveliest of trees..........'

Posted on: 18 Apr 2015

Sitting on a train last Wednesday, I found myself thinking 'How lovely the world is, or can be, if we take care of it and have eyes to see it.' It sounds trite now, written down, but it unleashed such a wave of feeling, I was simultaneously beaming like a complete idiot and blinking away tears. Spring is moving so fast now, it's hard to relinquish the things that are already gone: the snowdrops, the crocuses, the catkins, the trees just beginning to mist over with green.......... I keep thinking: look at it, SEE it, REMEMBER it, each small miracle that won't be back now for another year. Soon it will be goodbye to the Primelis and the wood anemones - too soon! Then it will be the blossom. There is a tree in a neighbouring garden, I don't know if it's cherry or some other kind of flowering tree, but three days ago it was white, and now it is green. "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now/ Is hung with bloom along the bough........" For the first time, Housman's poem begins to scare me a bit. A dear friend once set this to music for me, and I sang it at a concert in Nottingham: its first and only performance. Then, we were both 22, and thought we would live forever. Now he lies in a South Wales churchyard, while I have made it to 60, and have the good fortune to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I think every day how lucky I am. But it is a bittersweet feeling sometimes, and I don't always know how to deal with it.

But since this is supposed to be a blog about running, I'd better steer it back into more relevant waters. Apologies for the above, but what affects the spirit also affects the body, and vice versa. I felt seriously off course for a couple of weeks, so apologies too for that downbeat post about the boring tooth saga, I had no right to inflict that on you (though thankyou for your sympathetic comments!) I have my new gnasher now, that chapter is closed (I hope), so things are looking up again.

There may have been no running in that time, but there was walking. Easter Monday: not a free day (performance in the afternoon), but time for a short round in the morning. Met G. and Rocky just as we were setting off, so accompanied them as far as the Wagner Museum, then headed back over to the woods and along Waldrand. Only 5k or so, but enjoyed it, even if the half-hearted sun we set off in quickly disappeared behind the clouds. Prompted by 'Springwatch', I was looking for oak trees (to check when the leaves first appear) - still far too early for that, but plenty of flowers: primelis, cowslips, wood anemones.......... Wednesday afternoon, a day too lovely to waste, so combined a visit to Emmen Shopping Center with a walk there along the river Reuss. Several kinds of ducks, a nesting swan, some very large fish, and another 4 kms.

Thursday 9th April: J's birthday - his 54th. We had a few semi-jokey remarks (his) à la 'I feel old!'......... but he's still my toyboy! (All things are relative.) Another lovely day, and luckily free, so I persuaded him out for another walk in the afternoon. With no particular plans, we got the train to Neuenkirch again, revisited the talkative pigs, then veered off left on a path that led to Sempach. Past the 'Vogelwarte' (bird reserve/visitor centre-to-be), along the lake, and up into the old town for the obligatory restaurant visit. Eating being at that time not much of a pleasure, I passed on that, but did order a beer, with an additional slightly sheepish request for a straw. This was met with a mildly quirked eyebrow, no more, and the beer, plus 'Röhrli', duly arrived. Just the odd wince at the occasional mis-directed cold mouthful, but otherwise enjoyable. While sitting there outside the restaurant, we were treated to the bizarre spectacle of an inline skater whizzing past playing a concertina! Back along the lake then, across the campsite, and along the other side. This was on the route of the Sempachersee half marathon, and we reminisced about that - the violent thunderstorm, the painful hail, and the sheer terror that drove me into equalling my half marathon PB of 12 years previously! Quite different conditions today - very sunny, even hot. At some point, we turned round and went back to the end of the lake and Neuenkirch station again. As walks go, a bit formless and random, but it was pleasant just to be out and moving and enjoying the sunshine; and another 11.3 kms to the good.

Saturday 11th April: a walk of more significant dimensions. I found it on the internet a while ago, and thought this would be a good time to do it. Train to Richterswil on the shores of Zürichsee, via a change at Thalwil; a little puzzling over the printed instructions and the signposts (they did not seem to tally - no mention of Samstagern, our first target, or of Mülibach), but since it was obvious we needed to go away from the lake, we just set off. Ah........ Samstagern: up this enormous hill! Up and up we plodded, first through the town, then past flower-filled gardens, and finally open fields, the way getting steeper all the time. Luckily it was a much cooler day - even the odd spit of rain. Finally it levelled off, we passed a restaurant mentioned in the description, and a small lake, ditto........... and discovered we'd come the wrong way! - there was a sign pointing to Mülibach and back to Richterswil. Out of curiosity, we diverted that way just intending to check which way we SHOULD have come, and saw it was a lovely woodland path following a stream. 'Just a few metres' became a couple of hundred, and finally we ended up walking almost the whole way down again! - it was irresistable. This then meant walking back up once more, thus adding on about 3 kms to the scheduled walk, but it was worth the effort. Back at the little lake, and not far now to Samstagern. An ex-girlfriend of J's lives there; we'd visited her once before, a couple of years ago, and remembered there was a cafe on the ground floor of her block. This seemed like a good place for lunch, so having located the house, we called on her to see if she would like to join us, which she did. I managed to eat a turkey sandwich (it took me about half an hour, but I got there in the end), then saying goodbye to Olga, we were on our way again. Well over halfway still to go - time for some serious walking! Past the lake I remembered from our previous visit, another big hill, and finally some downhill (of knee-unfriendly steepness, but luckily not too long) to the river Sihl. Just a baby river at this stage, but it grew considerably as we followed it to our final destination at Sihlbrugg. Just once our paths diverged, as we climbed up and over a big headland, but mostly it kept us close company for the next 13 kms, most of that through the lovely Sihlwald, so green and peaceful, full of Bärlauch (wild garlic) and wood anemones. The path went through some tunnels at one point; the floor of the longest was inches deep in water - luckily we had a little wind-up torch to help us negotiate it. The woods round here were particularly mysterious and primeval-seeming, with high cliffs looming over us, and trees and rocks thickly furred with vivid green moss. As we passed one particularly luxuriant stretch of Bärlauch, the pervasive smell reminded us to stop and pick some to take home. Finally we came to a road, and from here it was only a short hop to Sihlbrugg, where we located a bus stop almost immediately; even better, we only had a few minutes to wait before a bus came and spirited us over to Baar, and a train home. A most enjoyable walk, and probably the ideal time of year to do it. Billed as 19 kms, it ended up as 22, due to our unscheduled extra at Mülibach,(longer, in fact, as we lost satellite contact in the tunnels) - but we still beat the given time of 5 hours! And though it seemed like far more uphill than downhill, Garmin tells the true story - rivers do tend to run downhill! - 723 metres of ascent, 598 of descent. (Or 2,372 and 1,962 if you want it in feet - looks more impressive that way!) https://connect.garmin.com/activity/743517036

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