Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Salü Speicher! - Speicher, Switzerland

The commune of Speicher bears the name of my paternal grandmother's family name and is where my Swiss family history began!
As part of this blog, I like to share my experience of these places that I visit from the people I meet, the buildings or that I explore, the food that I eat and the lessons that I learn.  This one I compiled the pictures for this post but could not find the right words to describe this realization of a dream.  In all honesty, it was a passive dream.  Seeing all the photos from when my grandmother spent time in this country and finding of fellow Spicher relatives that stayed in the "Old Country", I knew that I would want to go back to those origins as well.  I had just not planned to make this homage to the verdant countryside above the blue waters of Lake Constance for this trip, but there was a feeling in the back of my mind that I should do it.  So I did.  After my stop in Zürich, the train wound east through the Alps to the canton of Sankt Gallen where my curiosity was intrigued, my wonder climaxed, and a dream coming true.  A dream of coming home to a place that I have never been in my life, but knew about since I was a small boy via photographs and books of this alpine hamlet.  

Arriving in the capital which shares the same name as the canton in remembrance of the Irish monk, Saint Gall, that left his home of Ireland with a band of brothers to spread the Gospel and found sanctuary in the forested hills the Bodensee, or Lake Constance.  After learning that the monks chose this place being it gave them a sense of peace, I could feel the same harmony that I felt as I stepped out into the mountain air and terraced streets of the old town of Sankt Gallen as the sun was settling in the west and that is when I made my fortuitous decision to take the S-Bahn 21 line "up the hill" to the enclave canton of Appenzell.  I purchased my ticket from one of the kiosks and looked about the main station for the platform but to no avail!  In my best attempt of Alemannisch, I asked "Chönd Si mir säge wo d'Gleis isch?"  The lady smiled and kindly directed me to the platform for the Speicher-Trogen line outside in the plaza.  My train had it's own special platform! As the train tugged up the hill, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as the sun cast golden light over the deep blue waters of the Bodensee and the green fields.  I watched with anticipation as I watched "Speicher" edge it's way to the top of the monitor as the train ascended the hill and made a wide turn that opened the valley up to me like a sunrise onto a new day.  Sadly, the day was coming to an end for the day so my time for exploration in the mountain town was limited... until the morning!  

After a teaser trip, I returned back to St. Gallen for the night for I had made my lodging arrangements near the beautiful abbey in the heart of the city despite all the Gästehäuser or guest houses along the ride back over looking the picturesque valley that looked more than accommodating!  I woke refreshed and ready to begin a morning's worth of wandering about this treasure chest of living history for me!  As the train hiked up along Speicherstrasse and crested the hill, the sun was rising over the Alps and giving life to the beautiful autumn day.  Stepping of the train with the blue sky above me, this was the beginning of an adventure that I did not want to end. I traversed about the alpine homes to the Reformierte Kirche.  Set up on the crown of the central hill, the church tower stands tall with its copper topped bell tower.  As I ventured around the open park leading up to the church, there was an elderly woman clad in a simple woolen jacket and skirt that noticed me as I was taking random images of the area.  She came over to me and called out "Guete Morge" to me and I light up and geared my mind to Alemannisch and had a lovely conversation with her while enduring the never ending learning of new words and phrases!  She then led me over to the church office for one of the attendants to give me a tour of the church and that can answer any questions I have in English if need be!  Funny thing about Mari, the church attendant, her sister is married to a Spicher!  She told me there were a few Spichers buried in the graveyard on the north side of the church grounds.  After getting my full tour of the grounds and an invite to come to that evening's service, I departed the early nineteenth century church to the graveyard where the most splendid view unfolded in front of me.  The feeling of the warm morning sun on my face, the fresh alpine air and the sound of the bells ringing in the air of the milk cows moving about lifted my spirits as it reminded me of my farming background and life back home in Montana.  For most, this spot would not be a "must-see" stop on for a Swiss getaway, but for me, visiting the small commune tucked away in the rolling hills beneath the Appenzeller Alps just above the shores of Lake Constance was a form of paradise that I got to enjoy for a day.  A day that I will remember forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment