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Swiss Simplicty

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The sun slowly mounted the sky, swallowing the blue of the night in its orange pool with each second. Suddenly, the shrill, grating cry of the cock echoed through the silent hills. The sun had risen with the dawn and day had reared her fresh head. All about the country began to stir. Farmers cracked heavy eyelids open to the still shadowy room of the night before, looked up to the reddening heavens and knew the hour had come when they must rise to their chores. Farmer’s wives rose up after their husbands at five and slipped into gaily colored dresses and white peaked caps. While their husbands labored in the fields, they tended to the kitchen.      


Somewhere nestled in a quaint Alpine village, Marie Touseau, a young French woman, woke to such a day. Her father and mother had risen a few minutes earlier; and her sisters were rising. She slid from her bed, into her dress and entered the kitchen, her allotted morning duty. Marie opened the pantry and reached for the flour; but her hand struck a limp burlap sack. She would have to ask the village wheat farmer for more if her family was to have bread that day for lunch.

Marie went out the back door into the raw morning air. She wheeled her father’s wheelbarrow up the cobble streets, between the cheery Swiss cottages, until she reached the border of the village walls and the brink of the crops. Further on, at the head of the luminous golden wheat, was the humble home of Jacques, the wheat farmer. She crossed under the scrolled arch and treaded up the smooth dirt path running through the tall, graceful stalks.


Jacques was just returning to his breakfast after his morning duties about the farm when Marie wheeled into view with her request for two sacks of flour. “Certainly, Madame,” was his prompt and polite reply. He strode to a nearby windmill and disappeared behind a small, wooden door at the bottom of the immense structure. Three minutes later he emerged, carrying the two dusty sacks of flour which he carefully placed in Marie’s wheelbarrow. “That would be three francs, Madame.”


Marie rummaged through a coin purse hanging at her side and cheerfully handed the coins to Jacques. She was just about to take her leave, and Jacques to return to his breakfast, when a bell, sonorous and majestic, drifted through the air to the pair’s ears. It was the Angelus Bell, sounding from the village church, a call to the villagers to recite their Angelus prayers.


Jacques and Marie bowed their heads in silence for a moment, as they softly whispered their prayers. With the final “Amen” they broke their vigil, said their good-byes and went their separate ways. Marie walked home to her family, kitchen and bread-making; and Jacques to his wheat fields and breakfast. Another day had dawned in the little Alpine village.

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