A walk to France

Today I figured that I’d explore a little further to the west and find the French border. It didn’t take long – maybe 20 minutes of walking through some winding streets. To be fair, I didn’t actually go to the French border, but I was about 3 blocks from it. The borders around here aren’t always in straight lines and it can be hard to know just where you are in relation to it until you’re actually there.

But first, a couple of pictures from yesterday’s walk to Dan’s work place. I met him there so that we could go with our “fixer” (Camilla) to the Gemeinde and register ourselves in the Canton. It was cold and a wet snow was falling, so I didn’t take very many pictures.

Today on my walk I went back through Kannonfeld Park, the one with the snowy trees from just the other day. There was still some ice in the shadows, but the sunshine was warm and the little kids had come out to play.

Check out this fantastic sculpture! He stands probably 20′ high, judging from the reference points around him

Many parks and neighborhoods are connected by little pedestrian paths, cutting directly through blocks of housing. This makes for a pleasant stroll through various areas.

At night the streets lights appear to hover directly over the middle of the streets. This is done through the minimal use of wires to suspend the lights between the buildings. It is gives a great minimalist effect and sure beats having telephone poles every so often.

Nearer to the border I came across the largest area of community garden plots I’d seen yet. These are small plots that apartment dwellers can “lease” from the city in order to have their own garden, etc. Some people get quite creative with their plots, as they’re quite longterm. Cabins, shelters, fountains, ponds and sculptures decorate the land. And a few vegetable gardens are seen as well. Today I saw some parrots (they weren’t very close to the path, so I’m guessing here) as well as a dovecote (or perhaps a racing or homing pigeon loft?). The loft was very comprehensive and included a land platform on the roof for receiving the returning birds.

On the way back I stopped at a greenhouse I’d passed by earlier. For the move I had to leave behind my plants, some of which I felt a sentimental attachment to. The only one that I could do anything about was a jade plant that had been given to me by one of my early Seattle friends in 1995. For the trip I cut off a couple of ends and tucked them into my suitcase. Now they needed to be planted. In the shop of the greenhouse I picked up a couple of small pots and then asked, in really bad German, if I could buy just enough soil to fill them. I knew that soil is normally sold by the bag, but I couldn’t even being to think of what I’d do with the leftover dirt at this point. The woman, who was making a nice arrangement at her work table, spoke a little bit of English so I was able to get my request across. She agreed and sent a young girl off to fill my pots for me. In the process, I mentioned that I had just moved to Basel last Friday (hoping that would give me a “pass” on my poor German). The woman brightened and said to the girl that she should speak to me in English and I should talk to her in German, and that way we could both get in some good practice. The two of us had fun completing our transaction in the two languages and then I was on my way. Perhaps I shall go back again some day and see if they have something else to talk about. Oh, and the German work for dirt is “Erde”. I know that now!

Now that I had something to carry I headed back to the apartment. It was noon, so the little kids were being herded down the sidewalks for their afternoon recess. I love the little reflective “V” each one wears. I’ll have to try to get a photo of one, although I always feel awkward taking pictures of little kids. Along the way home I saw this shop and the name amused me. I stopped for the photo but then as I passed by I heard a knocking on the window. I looked up and a man was gesturing for me to come in. Initially I figured that he wanted me to eat lunch there, but then I wondered if he saw me take the picture and was upset. Either way, I wasn’t going to stop. I had lunch waiting for me at home!

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