January 28, 2009

Zug: A splash of color

I looked out my window on this wet winter day and saw a fat red cardinal sitting in a leafless bush. A ball of vibrant color lighting up a dull, brown day. I thought of the scarlet ibises we saw on a dank, rainy day in Zug, Switzerland.

Thousand-year-old Zug, a treasure trove of tall, proud, medieval architecture, sits on Lake Zug and on a clear day yields views of such beautiful peaks as Rigi, Pilatus and, in the far distance, the giants of the Bernese Oberland.

On the day of our visit clouds hid the Alps and drizzle bounced off the lake and the cobbled squares and the half-timbered houses, and Zug, while lovely, was wet and dull and quiet.

But in a huge round cage near the lakefront magnificent birds from all over the world rustled and darted and sang, and the most magnificent were five scarlet ibises.
Their bodies, even their legs, were electric red, and we stood under dripping umbrellas for a long time, watching them flap their scarlet wings, lighting up Zug as they flew from tree to tree.