The Saturday Evening Post

Pure Switzerland

The thing about Switzerland is, it’s just so darn pretty. The light is brighter, the leaves greener, the sky bluer. And in June the temperature is perfect. Not too hot; not too cold. And that mountain air, so crisp, so fresh.

And also, so neat. So … perfect. As if to prove that humans can remake the world as it should be, not as it naturally is.

The lawns are always mowed and weed-free, the roads absent of potholes, the houses freshly painted — and, wherever you go, something is missing: trash. In fact, a few days into the visit, my wife Estelle and I were walking on a winding path alongside perfectly tended flower beds by beautiful Lake Maggiore in Locarno. The lake water is clear (you can see to the bottom), the flowers are in full bloom, but what is this? A paper bag has wafted over in the breeze and landed on the path before us. Almost before it touches the ground, a local burgher, out for a morning walk, stoops down to pick up the offending article, depositing it in a bin nearby.

Let me just repeat that for emphasis: He picked up someone else’s garbage. Not as part of an official cleanup. No, this was a private citizen doing his civic duty.

Can a place be too pristine? Too perfect? Too precise? Not for the Swiss, apparently.

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the famous Swiss train system. I rode a lot of trains in the eight days I spent there. In each case, they left precisely on time. Not a minute early or late. More impressive was the fact that the trains also arrived precisely on time.

It’s not just the trains. My impression

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