Spent the past week in the north of Switzerland, mostly visiting my brother in Basel (and hearing him in concert, on the Viennese bass which–along with the early music played on it–is becoming his specialty), with side trips into Bern and Luzern. All stone cities, at least at first glance; and old cities, with buildings dating back to the fifteenth century, with bits of old city walls and gates still intact; with towering cathedrals still in use and 1000-year old cobblestones beneath one’s feet. We (lnhammer and I) walked and walked and walked, through museums (lovely collection of pocket sundials in one; lovely range of historical instruments in another), along the Rhine (probably the heart of Basel, of anything natural and not man-made is at its heart), up winding cathedral stairs, to and from trains and trams, among snow-covered Roman ruins (this is more romantic in retrospect than it was at the chilly time, but I’m still quite glad of the journey).

I’m in the habit of trying to find the land beneath the cities I visit–the mountains and hills and streams and dirt beneath all we’ve built–in order to get a true sense of a place. But here (my first time in continental Europe), I think the buildings were themselves old enough that they were part of the land–rather than a thing apart from it, as buildings have always felt to me here in the States.

Much time. Much stone, built and worn and rebuilt and restored through centuries.

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