“I like to come and sit here, on this bench, every now and then. The river Visp is only a few metres away and I find the sound of the water very calming. And it shuts out all the other noises of Zermatt – the crowds don’t come down here for a start, they are busy spending money in the shops on Bahnhofstrasse!
My legs don’t work as well as they used to, and my eyesight is deteriorating – the problems of getting older are so annoying – but there’s not much wrong with my memory. I thank God for that. I just sit here for a while, alone with my thoughts, and I think about how life once was: the good moments in life that I’ve lived through. I never dwell on the bad – nothing good comes from that.
I like this wall painting behind me, it’s of Pirmin Zurbriggen, a very famous Swiss skier who has a special place in the hearts of all the people of the Valais Canton. He’s one of the most successful Swiss skiers of all time.
I remember the day when he was crowned Olympiasieger (Olympic Champion). That’s something I remember as if it was yesterday. It was 1988 and the winter games were held in Calgary, Canada. And Pirmin won the Gold Medal in the Downhill. We were all watching it on TV and I think the whole village erupted into cheering when he won. There were great celebrations that night! He wasn’t a Zermatt boy. He came from Saastal – the next valley eastwards from here. But we all celebrated that achievement together. All Switzerland celebrated.
The next year, 1989, he married a Zermatt girl – Monica Julen – and he became one of us. And after a few years he and Moni, as we call her, made Zermatt their home.”
I wasn’t sure how to title this post, or what to write initially, and then I came up with the idea of letting this elderly lady tell the story about the image behind her. I remember watching that Olympic Downhill race. Pirmin was hugely successful for a number of years and not just as a Downhill racer, he won at Slalom and Giant Slalom too. He was the overall World Cup Champion four times.
His wife, Monica Julen, is the younger sister of Heinz Julen who I mentioned a few days ago in Cafe Balcony. There is a fascinating article about the Julen family which is well worth a read if you have the time – click here to view. They are a hugely talented family all of whom have become successful in their own right. My very first climbs in the Zermatt area were in the company of Paul Julen, a Mountain Guide and a distant relative of the same family.
This mural has been in place for many years but this is the first time I have ever thought of photographing it. I spotted this lady sitting in front of it and could see the contrast between the elderly lady and the athletic skier. I dropped the Nikon down to hip height, looked the other way and took a couple of frames blind and unnoticed. Apart from a ’tilt’, the camera captured the scene. I processed it as you see it above. It was a cropped version of the original.
I looked at the image again yesterday and wondered if I had been right to crop out a much younger lady in pinkish trousers descending the steps at the right edge of the image. So, below, I have re-processed the image to include that figure.
Colour-wise she couldn’t be better dressed. But the question for you is this: does she add something to the image, or is she a distraction from the main story?
What do you think? Do, please, post a comment.
Finally, a warm welcome to a large number of recent followers of this blog. One of the pleasures of this photographic WordPress community is the way we interconnect. So if you have something to say or ‘like’ this post, then you know what to do.
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