The Mistery of Life

One of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever visited is Switzerland, and not just because of the high altitude.

How can someplace be so wild and rugged…

…and yet so tidy and tame and settled?

You can take an escalator to the top of the mountain…

…and just when you think you’re alone in the most remote place in the world…

…you stumble upon a chalet where you can buy a cup of Ovaltine.

Or you hear cowbells and realize you are not alone after all.

When you’re looking straight up at the sky, where no mountain ought to be–surprise!–you realize it’s just playing peek-a-boo from behind the clouds.

We went for a hike, but the landscape seemed so domestic that we felt we should really call it  a stroll.

We stopped to make a friend or two along the way.

And belted out the words to The Sound of Music because…why not?

Unlike the deliberate and well-defined cable car ride up to our little village, there was no clear threshold, no magic doorway from domestic to wild.  The landscape changed so gradually we hardly noticed.

No cowbells here.

And then a shroud of mist descended so swiftly.

The path was obscured and maps were useless.

We couldn’t see the landmarks described in the guidebook.

It would soon be dark.  We had no choice but to put one foot ahead of the other…

…keep walking…

…accept the mystery and try to enjoy the adventure…

…And trust that sooner or later we would get where we were going.

That’s life.

All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Misty.


    1. Dear Carol,
      That’s the truth. Sometimes we can choose our own path, other times, as you know too well, we must be guided by circumstances beyond our control. I have been taking particular delight in following your adventures in Panama because your path up to this point has been so difficult, and one which you followed with courage and grace. I am so happy that you are able to choose your own direction now and are making the most of it.
      With love,

    1. Hi Elyse,

      This was in Murren, a sweet mountaintop village with many interesting trails. We saw a lot of wildlife too, including an ibex!
      Thanks for the visit!

      1. I had to come back when I had a bigger screen. Lovely, lovely pictures of a magical place.

        I used to call them “Julie Andrews Moments” when my heart, well, wanted to sing every song it hears …

      2. I love it! I am going to have to remember that, Elyse. “Julie Andrews Moments!” Usually when I burst into spontaneous song, it is a TV commercial jingle from my childhood, and my poor children are the only ones subjected to it. But once in awhile, the hills really do come alive with the sound of music!

  1. Gorgeous! Yes, it’s beautiful. Cities are immaculate, trains run on time, fun to go across borders into other nearby countries. Thanks for sharing your travels!

    1. Thanks, Elisa. It reminds me of my home in Seattle, only the landlocked Tolkien version of it–with mountains so much more spectacular, and the culture ( the European roots, I should say), so much more ancient.

  2. Well, that’s a walk that had everything, Naomi. It is the most amazingly picturesque country, isn’t it? That mist rolling in must have been a bit frightening, really, especially as it was getting dark. But at least there was a track of some sort to follow – one step in front of the other – Swiss cows will always lead you home! 🙂

    1. I love the cows in Switzerland even more than the chocolate! And the ubiquitous cowbells I loved so much that I bought some at a little flea market to take home and put into my garden! Every time the wind gets going, the neighbors’ wind chimes tinkle, and my cowbells make their homey musical cling clang. Thanks so much for stopping by, Meredith. I hope you are well!

    1. Dear Meg,
      It’s so good to hear from you. So glad that you liked the post. Putting it together I feel like I just spent a little time in Switzerland.
      Sending you lots and lots of love,

  3. Hi Naomi. Why 2156 in the title. Don’t tell me you’ve posted 2016 times! Oh My. More news from me after breakfast… Love Meg

    1. Dear Meg,
      A very good question! I do this quite often, actually. I will work on a post, and maybe even put it aside and work on it a little each day. Unless I am certain, I save the title for last. But sometimes I get excited and post without realizing that I never titled my piece. That happened this time, and I realized it immediately. I added the title right away, but it was TOO LATE. That’s life! I am looking forward to hearing from you, Meg. Been thinking about you a lot.

    1. Hi Juliann,
      It has been that long since the first time I went to Switzerland, on one of those whirlwind Rick Steves tours– 7 countries in five weeks. After the searing summer heat of Italy and Spain, over 100 degrees every day, Switzerland, so cool and green, felt like heaven!

    1. Dear Cathryn,
      Coming from an accomplished photographer and storyteller, that is high praise and I am grateful. Thanks for the visit, and for starting my day with a smile.

  4. Thanks for the beautiful tour of this most breathtaking place, Naomi. It’s even more bewitching, shrouded in mist. Love the cow peering out of the shed and that gorgeous flower-bedecked home. You certainly did make the hills come alive for me, before breakfast this morning. 🙂

  5. Wow! Gorgeous images! I love Switzerland and would love to go back someday. My husband and I took the Bernina Express while traveling from Germany to Italy. It was breath-taking.

  6. I surely know all these views… since I live in Switzerland!
    Your pictures are wonderful and full of expression… some work-of-arts!
    My favorite are these with the clouds and mist, it really gave it a sense of mistic & magic… about the cow’s bell: really you put them in your garden?? Eh eh eh this will make me think of you everytime I hear one. Next July I’ll spend a couple weeks in Arosa and there, be sure, will be a lot of cows for the summer pasture!
    A big hug 🙂 claudine

    1. Dear Claudine,
      Thank you for your very sweet comments. Yes, I really do have Swiss cowbells in my garden, and I love them. I wonder if they call out to my blood? The last time I was in Switzerland I visited Bonfol, the little village my mother’s people came from, near Porrentruy.
      Hugs to you and your lovely family,

  7. After looking at these pictures, Switzerland seems like the place to go! I don’t know how anything can get more beautiful than that! I want to go and sing The Sound of Music. And, I love that you turned your walk through the mist into a metaphor for life. Perfect.

    1. Dear Naomi,
      Thanks so much for the visit. If I had to choose between ocean and mountains, I would probably have to say mountains, but I would miss the sea. I guess that’s why I live in Seattle. I thank you for your very eloquent, thoughtful, and astute comment. It is always good to hear from you.

  8. WOW …. everyday you see so many pictures of city life , you f.orget what it feels to be closer to nature , your post just reminded me of what I am missing.
    On addition to that , you created a whole pictorial story , where I wanted to know what is behind those mist , & kept scrolling down…
    Breathtaking view & your beautiful description made it a perfect post …

  9. This is such a beautiful post. I love the pictures and how they enhance the storytelling. I would love to visit Switzerland. I’ve only stopped by once via a connected flight.

  10. Oh, Naomi, what a wonderful story and beautiful photos. You wouldn’t have had this delightful post without both. I have been to Switzerland twice but it seems oh so long ago. Your post transported me back to where I walking the trails with you. What a pleasant surprise for this Wednesday morning. 🙂

    1. Hi Pat,
      What a really generous comment! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Where in Switzerland did you go? Some people like to ski there in the winter, but I enjoyed hiking there–SO beautiful. I do hope to go back someday. But, gosh, there are so many places I haven’t been to and would still like to visit!

      1. The first time we went, our daughter was living in a small village south of Basil, Gelderkinden. We stayed in the village for 1 week and toured the alps for another week. The week with Sharon included hiking to some areas she really enjoyed. The second time we took my mother and one of her friends. That time we hiked down the mountain from where we viewed the Matterhorn. I too enjoyed the hiking. I would love to go back – but like you I want to visit so many other places. Your post took me back without the long plane ride. 🙂

      2. It sounds like a wonderful visit, with a little bit of everything packed in there. And what a sweet trip to make with your mom, and by bringing a friend of hers along, you could go hiking without worrying that you were leaving her alone.
        Just came back from a long plane ride; I do not look forward to that aspect of travel either!

      3. Naomi, when we went to Switzerland the first time, it was when they were having a lot of hijackings so people were afraid to travel. The plane was only about 1/3 full so we slept on the 5 seats in the middle.

      4. Oh, wow! When is the last time that’s happened? But that would take the sting out of a red eye flight. I guess I’m getting old enough to really feel it when I go on a red eye, and it’s hard to find a way to do break up the journey when you’re traveling from Seattle to Europe. We did stop overnight in Iceland on the way to Paris last time, which helped a bit with the jet lag.

  11. this is a wonderfull story . Switzerland is the one country I hope I would have the privilige to visit again
    10/10 for this blog

    1. Dear Elyse,

      I loved your post on Switzerland. My living room was alive with The Sound of Music, and I couldn’t stop smiling! Thanks so much for the visit, and the link.

  12. I’m so jealous right now I could cry. Those are the most amazing pictures of the most beautiful location I’ve seen for ages. Wow.
    Breathtaking… understatement!

    1. Hi Ileandra,
      Thank you for the visit, and for sharing your generous response. I think the English countryside is some of the prettiest in the world. I bet your daffodils are blooming. I remember profusions of them in April.

  13. Ah, this helps me to recall my own wanderings there! Thanks so much. I have good friends in Zurich, and together we have traveled the eastern half of the country. It truly is a magnificent place. I just wish it weren’t so damn expensive…but then, it’s worth it;

    1. Hi Tom,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure you got some good hiking in with your friends. It is still one of the more expensive destinations but, as you say, it is worth it! I’m hoping to hear more about your adventures in China. I hope the teaching is going well.

  14. I’m sure it’s compulsory to sing “The Sound of Music” at the top of your voice if you ever find yourself on a Swiss mountain, or any other mountain or hill, wherever you be! I sang it when taking a children’s choir practice a few weeks’ back, to demonstrate how to make their voices bigger.

    1. HI Kizzy,
      Thanks so much for the visit. I appreciate your really sweet comments. Loved stopping by our blog today–sent the link to my daughter, who is really interested in the 1920s.

  15. Such outstanding photographs with interesting contrasts mentioned in your writing between the pictures! I love the way you tell us new pieces of information and also, the scenery you share with us. The Swiss Alps, the lovely flowers with the different buildings you chose to feature and even, the cow peering out at us, are all so exciting! I hope to go to Europe and see this part of it. I have only been to Spain and Portugal… So different in the views and sights! Smiles, Robin

    1. Dear Robin,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Spain and Portugal are rich and rewarding countries to visit. I do hope you can go back, and I really appreciate the time you took to share your very generous response.

      1. Thank you so much. I took a wander over to your website, and was very impressed with your photography. Wow! SO beautiful, and amazing wildlife shots!

    1. Hi Patti,
      Oh, dear. I should apologize in advance to anyone who might hear me singing my version of the Sound of Music, but some impulses simply cannot be denied. Thanks so much for the visit, Patti, and for you generous response.

  16. I have only just found the wonders of ovaltine, I cam across a pot in my investigation of the back of my Nanna’s cupboards and it’s wonderful stuff. I adore the Alps.

    1. Yes! Ovaltine! I love the idea of your exploring your Nanna’s cupboards! I can remember getting in my Grandma’s Noxema, which didn’t taste nearly as good as Ovaltine!
      Thanks so much for the visit, and for sharing your story, which made me smile. Now I have a fun new picture in my mind’s eye to associate with Ovaline.

  17. Your photos are breathtaking and your storytelling such a wondrous match! Imagine growing up and living surrounded by such majesty….like Heidi. Thank you for sharing it with us – now I can carry it around inside my heart ❤

  18. The landscape does seem in line with the people who dot it … or perhaps it’s the other way around.

    I can never think of Switzerland without think of Jung. I see him scribbling and drawing in his red book.

    1. Dear friend,
      Thank you for your visit, and your kind words. I have been thinking of you and your dear family, and wishing you all peace and happiness.

  19. Thanks for the visit. My fav is the last one. For some reason I love a moon and tree shot, but you also had a mtn in the background.. That topped it off.. 😉

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I really enjoy hearing which photos appeal most to whom. I was lucky to get that last shot, taken across the valley by leaning out from the window of our little place.
      I enjoy your poetry, and look forward to reading more of it.

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