When I lived in Switzerland (where I grew up) I hated the mountains.
I was not an athletic kid but rather on the pudgy side, and hiking up mountains always left me breathless, exhausted and with a bruised ego. But as things were, then, in the Swiss village, almost every field trip consisted in hiking up and down those darn mountains. Summer camp was in the mountains. Ski camp, too, but at least there, one could ride the lift up and glide on the skis down the hills.
I took up swimming and was on the swim team throughout middle and high school. No hiking or climbing required.
Once I was out of school, I turned my back on the mountains and spent most of my vacations either in cities or on beaches, or – sometimes – on islands where I stuck to beaches as well. For what I was concerned, I would have gladly exchanged the Alps for some “endless” beach with fine, white sand and lovely blue water.
Years later, I became a full-time RVer in the United States for the duration of five years. RVs are great but they are not the best housing in freezing temperatures, hence all the “snow-birds” clogging the RV parks of the south during the winter months. “Snow-birds” are people (often retirees) who live up north while it is warm, but come winter, they pack their RV and head south, spending the coldest months in milder climate.
I followed the general migratory patterns and spent winters in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Great parts, if not most or all, of these states are flat; flat as a pancake. If there are elevations on the horizon, they are either too far north, or mere hills.
In other words: I spent months on end in flat surroundings.
After the RV stint, I lived for two years each in southern Texas and NW Arkansas. Texas was flat and the Ozark “mountains” in Arkansas looked more like hills to me and couldn’t compare to the Swiss Alps.
I finally moved to Boise, Idaho, a city situated in a large valley at an altitude of 2700 feet, surrounded by mountains, and accessible only over passes from whichever side one drives in.
And what do you know?
I found that my attitude toward mountains had entirely changed.
Now, I LOVE looking at the mountains!
The play of light and shadows, of sun and passing clouds, of first morning light and pink afterglow following the setting sun are so beautiful that they tend to grip my heart.
I feel the sturdiness of the nearby mountains, their timelessness and strength standing in my back. Sometimes I hike or drive up on the nearest peak and look down in the valley and over to the faraway next mountain chain to the south.
There is no way that I would ever want to swap these mountains – or any mountains – for a beach.
Mind you, I still like beaches. But once I got my fill of water and salt and surf and sand, I am only too happy to return to the protection of the mountains. Water and sand move and change shape all the time. It is lovely to play with them. The mountains don’t change. They keep standing there exactly like they were yesterday, last year, or ten thousand years ago (well…. give or take the odd boulder that came crashing down….)
I know, you may be wondering what the point of this blog might be.
There is no specific point, other than I love the mountains.