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Audio postcard: Spending a day on a forest path in the Silh River valley

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The world is hectic and complicated. So we're going to take time for a quick moment of beauty. In Switzerland, there are networks of trails where people have walked for generations and in some places for centuries. On his way home from a reporting stint in Ukraine, NPR's Brian Mann spent a day on a forest path in the Sihl River Valley near Zurich. He sent us this audio postcard.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: It's early morning, ridiculously blue sky. I'm walking down a narrow, little river valley. I'm off on what the Germans and the Austrians and the Swiss call kind of a traditional wanderung. It's sort of somewhere on the border between a hike and a walk.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

MANN: The last few years and really during the pandemic, I fell in love with walking. Nothing strenuous, nothing ambitious, but especially when I'm on assignment doing something intense or heavy, I try to make time to pull on my battered, old walking shoes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRDS CHIRPING)

MANN: I've reached the stretch of the trail where I'm passing through this really lovely pine forest just awash in these foamy, white flowers. It's literally like seafoam in the green all around me.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

MANN: This is Switzerland, so you might picture the Alps or high mountain country, but this isn't that. This trail is easy walking through meadows and cool, shadowy forest, all just a short distance outside the city. It's also still and private. I hardly see anyone else.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER FLOWING)

MANN: Feels good on my face and neck.

I find little springs along the path, ice-cold water pouring into old stone basins where I can splash my face and cool off. I also spend time just sitting and listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRDS CHIRPING)

MANN: I've climbed now up into the deeper forest. It is like a fairy tale here - little mountain streams, beams of sunlight cutting through the trees, catching hillsides of purple and yellow blossoms.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRDS CHIRPING)

MANN: Absolutely nothing dramatic happens on this wanderung. But as I walk, moving at this slower pace in this beautiful place, the tug of deadlines and the busy world eases just a little.

Brian Mann, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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