But the analogy ends there. Janosch and Fynn were born far from a barn! They’ve been carefully monitored for some time now, in a modern Swiss hospital, especially because they’re twins. When Janosch seemed to stop growing, it was decided it was time for them to be born. Everything was there to make sure they would have the best possible start in life. A whole team of doctors and nurses were ready to spring into action. Thankfully they did well from the start and needed little extra intervention. What a contrast to some of the hospitals we’ve visited in Zambia where even the most basic of materials is lacking, and many babies die that would unquestionably live in the ‘Western’ world.
On the other spectrum are Robert’s parents, who are 89 and 88, and getting frailer. Grandma rarely knows who I am. But she understands a smile and a hug, and loves to laugh. Today, December 6th, is St. Nick’s day in Switzerland. It is custom to eat special bread boys, mandarin oranges, peanuts and gingerbread cakes for supper. Together with Grandma I decorated the table with a few pine greens, red candles and oranges. She was delighted. We lit the candles and sang the favourite German Christmas carol, ‘O Du Fröhliche!’ It takes so little to make another person happy.We arrived back in Switzerland last Friday, December 2, to the first proper rain in a month. “You brought the rain,” someone laughed. It is a joke – when you think that in central Alberta, where we left home last Thursday, people were skating on natural ice rinks. If we brought anything, it would be snow! I thought the dry spell would be hard on the winter cereals just planted in Switzerland, but the fog that brings those dreary days that foster depression were wonderful for the wheat and barley. Our first day here the sun shone again for a bit and the countryside was a bright green. What a contrast to the frozen white and brown landscape we left behind in Canada.
So here we are for the winter, busy between babies and aging parents and part time jobs. I’m trying to write a book, and will take over some of the maternity leave of an agricultural journalist – in German! (I’m glad there’s a German editor working with me.) Life continues to be very interesting!