Bike ride we did, on our next-to-last day here in the small village of Dagmersellen. Borrowed our host Melanie’s electric bicycles and set off on the river path, riding in the rain. Something we managed to avoid in all those other days of biking. It was a mild rain and stopped after 20 minutes or so and wasn’t it lovely to be back on a bike in the countryside, alongside a river and fields and distant mountains. Arrived in the town of Zofingel and walked the bikes through the charming Old Town, stopping for coffee and carrot cake.
Earlier, I asked Melanie to remind me how she fell into Orff Schulwerk. She told me she took the three-year Music and Movement program run by my other host in Basel at the University and for a project, had to pick a book from their library to read and summarize. Her choice? My book Now’s the Time: Teaching Jazz to All Ages! She noticed my Website in the back and as she put it, was surprised that I was still alive! So she wrote to me with a question and I answered her and in the exchanges, mentioned the Orff Intern program I had started at The San Francisco School. Lo and behold, she applied, was accepted, joined us in 2014 and then continued the next three summers with our Orff Levels program in the Carmel Valley. In the years that followed, she married a farmer, had two lovely children and continued to teach music. Her sister, cousin and mother-in-law all came to the workshop here that I taught!
In the morning before the bike ride, I accompanied her to a class she was teaching for older people —ie, my age!— in one of the most beautiful music rooms I’ve ever seen, complete with wood floor, grand piano and a stunning view out the window. It was a lovely class and a privilege for me to be her student. Just one of dozens of stories about the way lives can intertwine, especially if you’re a teacher.
Between the class and the bike ride, Karen and I set out to change money and for all my praise of Switzerland, this is something they could work on. It was a simple request at three different banks to just hand them some Euros and ask for Swiss francs in return, but none of them would do it. We haven’t seen any money-changers in any place we’ve been, various places have rejected our credit cards and the ATM’s don’t accept our debit cards. Again, Melanie came to the rescue, but come on, Switzerland, it’s to your advantage to make it easy to accept our money!
We ended the day with Melanie’s family at the farm and had a great conversation with her farmer husband, who after a long day of work in the fields, came back fresh and energetic and playing with the kids and telling us about farming with great gusto and enthusiasm. It’s not a life that looks easy to me, but it clearly fit his character and of course, I have to thank him and his fellow farmers for getting food and milk on the table.
Today is a morning Covid test, a train ride to Zurich and one last stroll around a city before the long plane ride home. A sunny day with perfect temperature and hopes that all connections get made.