I first met Ute when she was just a young thing...and I was a young mom of three. She was on a Canadian adventure...carefree, outspoken and having fun! She was from Germany...working in Canada for a year through an MCC trainee program. At the same time we were hosting a Swiss trainee on our farm...and Ute came by on occasion to see Pierre. Their year in Canada was over before we knew it, and both Pierre and Ute returned to Europe to carry on with their education. We hoped we would see Pierre again one day...we did not expect our paths would cross with Ute's in the future.
However, five years later, Pierre and Ute were married....and came to Canada on their honeymoon. How good it was to see Pierre again...and to get to know Ute.
Since that time we have been to Switzerland twice to see them...and they have been back here twice to visit us. We have seen Switzerland with our own personal tour guides...and been where no tourist goes. We wandered about with the cows and their infamous bells on the high alpine meadows and visited the caves where Anabaptists once met to worship when they were forbidden to meet publicly...and visited one of their famed ski areas. We were introduced to racqlet, fondue and muesli...and even attended a Swiss schwingfest (traditional Swiss wrestling). We experienced exquisite French cuisine...toured cathedrals and castles..and saw where the famous Swatch watches are made in Biel. We had a marvelous time with our hosts!
Ute is never shy about expressing her opinion...and explained to us why this sign would be posted at the very peak of the Schilthorn. Why would anyone even think of wearing high heels on the rugged terrain of the Bernese Oberland? She informed us that the signs were necessary for the American tourists.
We have so many good memories of our travels in their fine country.
In 1999 we rented a motorhome together and travelled to Alaska...and what an adventure that was. We swam in the natural pools of Liard Hot springs, visited Dawson City...
...drove the Top-of-the-World Highway, cruised the Kenai fjords...saw sea lions and killer whales.
We hiked the Exit Glacier...and spent a glorious day in Denali National Park, where we enjoyed Swiss fondue late at night.
We fished for salmon in Prince William Sound (and caught more than we should have!)...and went for a run at midnight in the land where the sun never seemed to set.
We made many stops at little towns and villages along the route...always looking for a post office for Ute..who usually had a bundle of postcards to mail. If you know Ute...you know that she will send you greetings from the uttermost parts of the world.
She also thought that there should be fresh flowers in our travelling home at all times..so we always had an arrangement of wild flowers compliments of Ute, in our cup holder.
We shared the world's largest cinnamon bun somewhere in the Yukon...we visited North Pole, Alaska...we watched black bear eating berries beside the road...we fought off mosquitoes...and we made memories to last a lifetime. And when our trip was over...we were still friends!
Many things have changed since that time. Pierre and Ute now have a son, Marc...who is hiking, biking, skiing, skating, and swimming right alongside of them.
They came for a visit last summer...and we had a wonderful time exploring the lakes and trails of British Columbia together. My granddaughters had a fine time with Marc...he speaks French and German, while they speak only English...but that did not seem to be a problem for them. Laughter is a universal language...and what fun they had!
Ute recently completed a solo bike trip across Switzerland...she rode the 200 kms across and returned by train.
Always up to an adventure...always a word of wisdom...eager to learn and try something new...my friend Ute, with a wonderful sense of humour, is celebrating a birthday today. So, in honour of the occasion I thought I would send her this little 'cyber postcard'...and wish her a Happy Birthday!
May the year ahead hold many wonderful adventures and may you know that you are always in His hand. May there always be a rainbow in your sky.
I look forward to sharing Swiss fondue again with you one day, Ute!