Gorneren is a lovely mountainside in the Swiss Alps, at the top end of the valley of the river Kiene. It’s the place where my grandparents kept their cattle during summer, and at times even for a few weeks in winter to consume the hay produced in summer. My mother grew up there, and I spent a good portion of my youth there as well.

Gorneren is untroubled by the hasty tourism driven by mountain railways, cable cars and hordes of people running after “events”. There is a small postal services bus going up to nearby Griesalp, but from there everything above an altitude of roughly 1400 meters you have to make happen on foot.

Major mountains around are the Bluemlisalp (about 3600 meters above sea level) and the Aermighorn (about 2700 meters), and you can reach the Schilthorn and Kandersteg via passes.

Spring, summer and fall are short, but utterly intense. A whole snow-free season of vegetation needs to happen within five or so months. In May, the mountain meadows seem to explode with colourful flowers and herbs appearing within no time. In autumn, the landscape assumes more muted colours, leaving the deep summer greens behind.

In deep winter, when the days are the shortest, the sun barely rises above the chain of mountains across our cabin, seemingly eclipsing several times during the day. It’s otherworldly. As can be the foggy days, when the sun pierces through.

All year, you are surrounded and carried by the resounding, soothing music of the nearby waterfall, unless it’s covered by ice in winter.

I love being up there. Life is intense and calm at the same time. And it includes helping a cow to give birth to an offspring sometimes.