National Geographic : 1986 Jan
The Clockwork Country By JOHN J. PUTMAN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SENIOR WRITER Photographs by COTTON COULSON T WAS TO the little port of Ouchy, on Lac Leman, that I came to try and sort out things. There was a terrace, and from it on clear days you could see across the lake to France and the Alps beyond; on cloudy days a mist fell like a curtain across the water so that a line of white sail boats might appear as ghostly swans, the great multicolored spinnakers of larger boats as medieval banners. On fine week ends the lakefront would be crowded: flights of bicyclists in club colors; elderly women with canes, determined chins, bent backs; lovers, arms around each other; children; dogs; elderly men, their frail bodies seem ingly held erect by tightly buttoned tweed jackets, sharply creased trousers. There was a profound sense of time, or was it timelessness, at Ouchy. Foreigners have come here for many years, to holiday, to find repose, to die in tranquillity. I liked to walk the grounds of its grand old hotel, so laced with balconies it appeared a huge birdcage, doors popping open with the sun, occupants emerging. Amid the tulips, pines, and cedars of Lebanon lay a cemetery for guests' pets. There lay Tosca; Poupette; Taf fy, My Beloved Friend. There lay Toots; Micky, Ma Petite Parfaite; Joe, the Faithful Companion; and Darling Topsy-Born Philadelphia 1921, Died Lausanne 1934. Stepping out to welcome spring, members of Zurich's professionalguilds collect bouquetsfrom onlookers as they paradein traditionaldress during the Sechseldiutenfestival, the city's farewell to winter. Though as orderlyas the watches they make, the Swiss always leave time for celebration.