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The Sound of Music

"The people here really love their little lake," Irene said when I asked about the name of the accordion band we were listening to last night.

The Orgeliband Grängierseeli named itself after the small lake I'm sitting beside now during my lunch break while hiking over a pass.

The map calls it Blausee, or Blue Lake, but locals call it Grangierseeli, with "seeli" being a diminutive and endearing type of lake. It's renowned for its blueness, but today the overcast sky and the wind have turned it dark and colorless.

Which is sort of the opposite of the young people playing old music that we heard next to the ancient arch bridge in Binn's little plaza last night. I'd been longing to hear some Swiss music on my border journey, but so far I'd completely struck out.

On the Eiger six years ago I'd heard gorgeous choral singing wafting up with the breezes from an amateur group at a mountain restaurant far below.

In Zermatt years ago I'd been thrilled by the haunting sounds of alphorns playing in an alpine pasture. But the only music this trip had emerged from the occasional passing car on a road.

These kids in Binn – they must have been around 16 years old – were really good, I thought, though I'm no connoisseur of traditional Swiss accordion playing. And then Irene said, "They're playing the song of the lake now."

Well, I'm at the lake, and in my head I can hear the squeeze boxes in rhythm, but these sounds I remember must compete with the wind flapping the hood on my jacket while my fingers grow numb holding this phone. Once again I'm struck by the contrasts, and how nature can be so blue, cute, and endearing in one moment and then cold and un-charming the next.

People can be that way too, I know. I guess it's just the way of the world. I'd better get across this pass now, but first I'm going to put on some gloves.

Oh, I asked the kids if it was okay to put them on the Internet, and they said sure, it was fine. Their names are (from right to left) Joel, Talitha, Larissa, and Benjamin.

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