In Lausanne you can obtain copies of the main Swiss-French newspapers at any hour in your local street from omni-present coin-operated boxes, which always prominently display today’s top headline. I have only once purchased one. On this occasion, the front page featured a story about some foxes that had taken up residence in a farmhouse, to the delight of the owner and as officially condoned by the Swiss Inspector of Fauna, who decreed that as long as the foxes did not move into the nearby hay (their current abode of choice was the straw) they would not represent a public health risk.
The title reads: “Foxes squatting in the barn”. And that is actually one of the foxes and its cub in the barn, caught on hidden camera. Awww!
Although I seldom purchase the paper, I frequently take a lot of pleasure in reading the headline on display for the day, as these sometimes relate to events that are endearingly local in their impact. I like this in no small part because it reminds me a bit of home. Astute readers of New Zealand news may recall the seal on a Dunedin beach that had spent some days near, but not on, a bike path, arousing concern amidst the authorities about danger to cyclists… on the grounds that they might be startled by the seal and fall off, given that the seal had shown no inclination to move towards the path or threaten passers-by.
It transpires that New Zealanders don’t need a visa to come to Switzerland but Australians do. On hearing this, an Australian friend postulated that it must be due to the mutual understanding shared by small mountainous countries. And I have to say that one of the reasons I feel so at home here is that New Zealand and Switzerland share quite some similarities (as well as plenty of differences). So we can now add “endearing local headlines” to the list of things we share, bringing us to the following entirely non-exhaustive assessment of the situation.
Similarities: mountains, lakes, small population and land area, good white wine, iconic adiabitic winds (the nor’wester & the Föhn), endearingly local headlines.
Differences: hemisphere; the sea (NZ); trains (Switzerland); sheep > cows (NZ); cows > sheep, ubiquitously with bells (Switzerland); chocolate fish (NZ); timeliness (Switzerland); birds that mainly don’t fly (NZ); native ungulates (Switzerland). And so forth.
At any rate, here are some of the newspaper headlines that I have enjoyed lately:
“VIVARIUM: A French-Swiss woman donates a 1.30 m long salamander!”
The Vivarium is a small reptile zoo in Lausanne, which nonetheless seems to make big waves on the Suisse Romande news scene.
“VIVARIUM: The lizards from Lausanne are going to Zurich. A REPORT“
“Heritage: Switzerland is rich in exceptional parks and gardens”. Maybe I need to add that to the list of differences.
The next headline relates to the Fête Nationale, the Swiss national day which takes place on the 1st of August.
“1st AUGUST: Parade of sixty luminous goats. UNPRECEDENTED.”
The (unprecedented) prospect of seeing sixty luminous goats is the only thing that makes me wish I had stayed in town over the Fête Nationale instead of going mountaineering!