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Archive for January, 2009

The walk

page28I’ve been back in Canterbury for almost two weeks but I find it harder to decide what to draw and what to say than I did during my first stay. Nothing looks all that new anymore, and winter weather doesn’t make things appear particularly exciting. But one thing has changed: I now take a daily walk from the house to the little church which overlooks the campus from a hill in the north. My short incursions into the countryside allow me to keep at least some of my sanity and forces me to deserve a small portion of the food I swallow each day. I like to walk across the churchyard on my way back and see the old tombstones. They all look very gothic, tilted among moss and ivy, some of them almost hidden by the grass. You rarely see this in Switzerland where after a few decades new tombs replace the ancient ones.

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page27On Wednesday I went snowshoeing for the first time, with my aunt, on the Chasseral in the Jura mountains. As it hasn’t snowed much since the 31st of December, there were many tracks there already, but it was more interesting when we made our own in the woods and really tested the snowshoes. I have to consider buying a pair next year, they’re great for people who like to hike, as it is very difficult to walk in deep snow. I’m back in Canterbury now, and each time the sun comes out of the clouds I imagine it’s spring. No snow here, nor mountains. I have to adjust and I know I will, but I’m looking forward to hiking in the Alps after Easter.

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The meat chronicles – 1

page26Seeing as I posted my New Year’s resolution on this blog, I’m going to write monthly articles on the subject to share my ideas with you. I went to the zoo in Basel the other day and saw the young hippopotamus with his mother. Farasi’s fate provoked a debate here when the zoo admitted that if no appropriate place is found for him elsewhere when time comes, Farasi will be put down and fed to the other animals. As bad as I feel for the poor little hippo, I’m not particularly shocked by this statment. What makes this animal more important than the cows usually bred for zoo carnivores? Don’t we eat animals? I think that what really matters is the life before the killing, and perhaps that’s where there should be a debate. The pigs we eat often live in terrible conditions, and they’re clever, social animals (and about the same size as Farasi). We tend to choose the wrong target.

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The last exam

page251I’ve been studying for so long, I hardly remember how it began. I sometimes think it’ll never end; I have nightmares of me, eighty years old and still taking the same classes, aiming for the same diploma. But now all of a sudden, something unexpected is happening: I’ve just learned that the exam I was supposed to attend in May will be unnecessary, which means that only one is left. This is an official announcement: on Monday, I’ll undergo my very last exam. An oral in Old and Middle English, an exam I’m probably going to pass successfuly, if not with the best mark. Wish me luck, for I sense that freedom is near.

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Land of snow and ice

page24The more I think about it, the more I believe that university classes should be taught during the summer. Honestly, who wants to roast on crowded beaches, almost fainting from thirst, when you could stay safely under the shade? Who wants to go home when you could ¬†quietly study under oak trees until late at night, and not get stuck in traffic jams because you’re traveling when everybody else is? Don’t you find it depressing to be away from your family and friends during the darkest months, reading on your own in your dim, mouldy room? Things have to change. I want to stay here in Switzerland from the very first autumn snow until it melts in the spring, forget all about rainy, muddy England, and finally go back to the University of Kent when it gets too hot here and the UK starts to dry a little.

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How to be a better carnivore

page23I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolution for 2009. I had several ideas. One of them was the classical “get in shape” which I quickly dismissed for lazy reasons. Then I remembered that I want to add a fifth ball to my juggler’s palmares, but to be honest, I’m not going to spend several hours a day practicing, and I like my resolutions to be a little more… spiritual. A third option, which I seriously considered, was to commit to more creativity in my journal. But in the end I chose my fourth option, which has ethical implications. As a meat-eater, I need to know not only what I am eating but why I am eating it. I ¬†want to eat well, and I want to eat mindfully. So I have decided that in 2009, I will become a better carnivore.

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