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The Weather Frogs
(originally published in the June 2009 issue of Expat In Switzerland)

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Spring has sprung and we have already even had a mini heatwave – going out in the car last Monday evening I was amazed to see that it was still 33C at 7pm. Most people associate Switzerland with snow, skiing and cold weather but this little country in Central Europe still has all its seasons very much intact. In fact what a diverse place to live – cold and all that goes with it in the winter – skiing, sledging, ice-skating, mulled wine, fondue etc. as well as pretty good summers where it is not unusual to have lasting temperatures of 30C plus. With all those lakes to swim in, sail on, and mountain scenery to enjoy the summer is just as exciting in Switzerland as the winter.

Deep in central Switzerland, in a small valley not far from Lucerne called Muotathal, there is a small, but quite famous society of weather forecasters that prophesy the weather each year. They are known as the „Muotathaler Wetterfrösche―or directly translated the „Muotathaler weather frogs―. They gather information throughout the year, observing plant life, animals and the wind, but how they actually reach their prognosis is a closely guarded secret. Astonishingly their hit rate is around 80%! This small society, founded in 1947, is steeped in tradition and has become a well known phenomenon throughout Switzerland and even beyond. The 6 elderly weather frogs meet twice a year in April and October to make their prognosis public. This is done with much tradition and humour. The weather frog that prophecies the weather most accurately each year receives a prize. It is not unheard of for their prognosis to be mentioned on the national weather forecast.

According to the Muotathaler weather frogs the summer of 2009 is going to be a hot one! Plenty of opportunity therefore to go out and explore the sunny side of Switzerland and perhaps make yourself familiar with other Swiss traditions and festivals. Rather like carnival, when the Swiss don their masks and really let their hair down, I always find the summer months here suddenly more relaxed and less formal with people mix-ing with each other more freely, for example at the “badi” - the little public “beaches” dotted all around the lakes.

Just about every Swiss boy knows how to light a fire outside from scratch in order to grill the many sausages that are consumed in the summer months. There is a lot to be said for the outdoor life – so make sure you join in this year and get out there and see Switzerland with the Swiss. Perhaps even make a trip to Muotathal?

For me the summer brings colour into the studio, with everything from rubber rings, straw hats and the baring of tattoos allowed!

Linda Atschreiter

Linda is a regular contributor to the ExpatInCH.com newsletter and runs the Foto eMotion photographic studio in Zug. See www.foto-emotion.ch for more information.

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