(new absinthe writings 2010)
September 12-27: 2010
What can be said about this new, another trip to Switzerland. They all start the same, cloaked in mystery and ends the same: with myself becoming balanced again, and feeling like a human being. Somehow like a magic pill, the Swiss people renew my faith in life and being human.
It was the Heso festival again in Solothurn on September 22-25?, and again more days of revelry, drinking and some mayhem. Not so much as four years ago, when the youth tore down Solothurn. Since then, the municipality closed off the St. Ursen Kathedrale with bicycle barricades to keep the teenages from leaving all that noise all night, and all those broken bottles.
The municipality truck would come at 6:30 a.m., some three hours after the final horde of teenagers would depart. The workers in orange jumpsuits would sweep up all the glass and bottles, making a orchestra of tinkling glass noise, as if drunken wind panes that Pan was caught up in and could not leave. It would take forever, some twenty minutes to pick up al the glass.
Upstairs at Hotel Krone, room 337, I seem to see and hear all. People look up at me occasional and I feel like that hawk in a tree looking down at some prey to hunt. But I only hunt with my eyes and feed the book with my words.
So at the Heso Festival, Solothurn has several party tents at night: Teenager nothing pop, Rock n’ Roll, Rythym and Blues, country western, disco, Electro diva techno; and also another techno. All these tents become very crowded, and there is no room, unless you like not moving or getting anywhere, or just sweating. Four years ago, they would allow people to roam, now there are lines to enter, and roped off quadrants for special tickets.
Inside at the business tents, there are all of Solothurners and their businesses that sell to the canton. Banks, window specialists, Chocolatiers, special aesthetic gas fireplaces, metalic waterfalls, auto dealer, a man demonstrating how pipes corrode and he has the non-corrosive pipes for sewage, St. Niklaus ville for travel, everything.
Saturday afternoon, around 2:00 p.m. nothing out of normal for this Heso Festival.
Then around the corner from the St. Niklas, Grachen travel exhbition, a man lies flat on his face. He has fallen unconscious. He’s a big man, about 335 pounds and maybe 6 foot, 6 inches. He’s a big Gurten bear that escaped from the Bern pits, and he lies flat on his stomach, face down, so no one can see his face. The people crowd around. I missed the fall, but it must have been a loud crash. His hands were large and black, not black skin, but dirty black, as if he never washed his hands, or is a auto mechanic.
He might be dead, or had a heart attack, or a stroke. The concerned hover over, not knowing what to do. They give him space, but really no space to breathe properly.
I ask an older Swiss man that there should be a doctor inside somewhere? He agrees, throwing up his hands. The Gurten Bear just lies there unconscious. He’s about 56 years old possibly, big long black hair down past his shoulders, more like a Sasqwatch. Grey streaks in his hair and long beard. Something that maybe fell out of a time machine from Solothurn 1871.
I felt his pulse as the paramedics were just arriving. It was weak yet steady. He is alive.
The people cleared a little for the paramedics, and I walked off into the horde of people in the hallways of this exhibition center.
It was the next day, Sunday night around 8:00 p.m., I walked up inside the main tent to the Gasthoff Enge, this makeshift pub tent with plastic doors that anyone can wave aside.
This man, large, hulking, walking slow as if in a stupor – was walking toward the plastic sheets to enter the Gasttoff Enge. It was him? No? Yes! I looked closely at his hands. They were twice as large as a normal man’s hands. They were dark and dirty looking like the man who was unconscious yesterday, soon to be carried away by the paramedics.
I followed him into the beer tent. He stepped directly to the bar. His long black hair and beard more resembled a Gurten Bear, than a human. He idled to the bar and next to a man with a large moustache. He was a drinker also. Some come to this festival for the business contacts; others just for the beer. Which am I?
I walk up to him, as if a news reporter and ask him:
He looked down at me, barely understanding anyone was bothering him, as if a fly was hovering near his drink. He may swat me away.
“Sprechen Italianisch, Francese, English?” I ask.
“Nein,” he growled. “Deutch.”
His friend standing at the bar to the right, chimes in finally.
“Nein, Deutch, Deutch.”
Great, I found the last throwbacks, the last link to some period before the Swiss were forced to learn the international business language, English.
I asked again.
“Du biz Samedi…..” and I made the international right hand coming down in a clap into my left hand, as if someone fell down hard. He looks at the bar, not paying attention to me anymore. He understood, but understood nothing.
His friend, already drunk, smiled and struggled to make some kind of joke that turned out to be some kind of wisdom, also.
“It’s a new day!” he said, looking as if we were all heroes again, like children playing.
A new Day for the Gurten Bear to drink from tent to tent. Inside, there are many wineries and bars to drink at the business tent. With little air, he went down Saturday.
After my Saturday at Palace Besenval for the 1st Absinthe contest to select the best Absinthe in Switzerland, and after consuming 7 absinthes, and some beers before and after….I was no Gurten Bear, and could barely stare down a beer, yet alone drink any. I watched my new-found subjects of interest act as if yesterday’s trip to the hospital drunk tank and a good sleep, just made this hibernating bear a new reason to add some beer fat to that big belly. Sasquwtach.
How could I have been there at both times. When just after he fell, and then magically 16 hours later, I catch him ambling through the plastic sheets to another bar, another beer or wine.
So, there is Rosario, still the same, white wine and Williams all day, carrying the vache from one point to another. Always a cow to move, always a wine to drink in the valley; always a chocalate to sell and always a beer to drink at Heso.
Life had been some kind of whipping post, but today – this weekend with Heso Business Festival, and Absinthe contest with the best of Val-de-Travers in Solothurn, the Absinto Orkestra playing live at Palace Besenval – we are all Gurten Bears that escaped from some bear pit. We know the way out, and the technique back in before the bear keeper finds out. Though, some in Canton Solothurn play by special rules that enable these things to happen. They never sleep in a bear pit, they do hibernate, but never do they think of life as false, or without meaning.
Every day is a new day in Solothurn.
It’s a new day, still rings in my ear, and struggles to be understood again.
Where do these sequences of nature unfold that allows me to see him down unconscious and also the next day, when the festival is winding down early Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.?
And the Swiss-French couple of their years of 80’s in Val Bedretto. All perfect sequences that allow us to keep meeting, time after time by accident. The caccatiore in the Alps, then later sipping a café at the osteria. The bus that comes around the corner to pick me up in the alps, the second I come down the alps in a huff
All perfect sequences of nature. The sequences unfold in perfect sequence with little information than the moon provides when it rises to the same spot for one moment each night. It sits bright, iluminating, then moves on, or our eyes move on.
The absinto orkestra, all wild eyed and mad, plays their music violent with abandon. We have left the universe and are now in some kind of spiral.
I ask the winners wife where she stays tonight.
“Vous reste dans Soloere se soir?”
She smiles and answers nothing, but with a smile.
I ask again different, innocent- just small talk.
“Je suis balancier,”
She repeats this a few more times as we did not comprehend until she became unbalanced.
I did not realize she was married as she shows me her “bague” on her finger.
“Je fait un facile dialogue,” I joke high on 5 absinthes and walk away as her husband, the winner of the contest laughs at me.
His recipe for success is thirty years old and never changed any ingredients or methods.
This contest is no joke and operated with justifiable certainty. Overseen by the Schnapps Group of Switzerland. All the top absinthes that had enough criteria were sent to a scientist to measure the thujone amounts in the wormwood.
Nothing is overlooked, and the goute, with Roger Liggenstorfer, owner and developer of Due Grune Fee sipped and spit out each entry to develop this pallet without becoming over-absinthed into oblivion.