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SUMMER HOLIDAYS ARE OVER
TIME TO SORT OUT, THROW AWAY, GIVE AWAY
It’s August and the temperatures are finally summery.
Blinds closed, I tidy up. In doing so, thoughts about
the past and the present come to me.
TIME TO TIDY UP
It’shot. Notquite as hotas in the Mediterranean region, where hundredsof
thousandsofhectares have goneup in smoke and where it will take a
generation or two for the vegetationto grow back. But it is hot, andI don’t
find the motivationtowork... So, I decide to tidy up.
My vacationis over. I shouldprepare myself for work butit’s toohot. So I
lower the blindsand stay in the cool. It'sa lockdown of sorts. Buta voluntary
one. I rummage throughthemountainsof paperspiled up in my office, the
stocked cabinets and drawers that trigger memories.
REDISCOVERING, THROWING
AWAY, GIVING AWAY
Many thingsthatseemed worth keeping yesterday are unimportanttoday. I
throw away. My shelves are emptying, andmy trashcan is overflowing. So are
the bagsfor the "BröckliHuus"*. Inside are dozensof plastic and thick paper
folders, pencils andpens, clothesand all kindsof objects.
I don'tthrow plastic away, I recycle it. A matter of principle. But what happens
to the vastamountsof plastic that are collected by supermarkets?I'vebeen
askingmyself that question for a long time... Nowthat the Chinese refuse our
©
123RF.com
plastic waste. Isit being burned here? Are the toxic chemicals now released in
the air we breathe? Best would be notto buy any plastic.
In a drawer, I find thick paperfolders with cellophane windowsfrom the
1990s. They remindme of my first job in Zurich. I was very young, freshly
arrived from Paris in thiscountry that I thencalled "pretty" butwhere people
spokea dialect I didn'tunderstand.
WHAT TO KEEP?
WHAT TO PASS ON?
The longer I tidy up, the more memoriesrise to the surface. Memoriescome
with the thick paper folders (which showeda rare ecological awareness for
thattime; a sortof “green washing” before the term was coined), with pencils
made of untreatedwood from Swiss forests, labeled with the logo of the
communicationagency I was working for at the time.
I sortout, throw away, give away. "Youcan never give enough," my
grandmotherJeanneusedto say. "And tothose who havenothing, youhave
to give the best."
What shouldI save for my daughter?Her first pajamas, her first shoes, tiny
orange ones with green andwhite flowers, a few drawings and Palou, the
stuffed dog?One day she will be the one sortingoutand letting memories
escape.
Sortout, put away, give away, throw away – to welcome the new. To prepare
for the post-holiday season, forgoingback to work. I only want to keep a few
items from my past.
But for now, all I want is to escape the heat behind closed blinds.
Sylvie Castagné
Zurich, August 15, 2021
* Second-handshopinSwissGerman

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"Summer holidays are over – Time to sort out, throw away, give away"

  • 1. SUMMER HOLIDAYS ARE OVER TIME TO SORT OUT, THROW AWAY, GIVE AWAY It’s August and the temperatures are finally summery. Blinds closed, I tidy up. In doing so, thoughts about the past and the present come to me. TIME TO TIDY UP It’shot. Notquite as hotas in the Mediterranean region, where hundredsof thousandsofhectares have goneup in smoke and where it will take a generation or two for the vegetationto grow back. But it is hot, andI don’t find the motivationtowork... So, I decide to tidy up. My vacationis over. I shouldprepare myself for work butit’s toohot. So I lower the blindsand stay in the cool. It'sa lockdown of sorts. Buta voluntary one. I rummage throughthemountainsof paperspiled up in my office, the stocked cabinets and drawers that trigger memories. REDISCOVERING, THROWING AWAY, GIVING AWAY Many thingsthatseemed worth keeping yesterday are unimportanttoday. I throw away. My shelves are emptying, andmy trashcan is overflowing. So are the bagsfor the "BröckliHuus"*. Inside are dozensof plastic and thick paper folders, pencils andpens, clothesand all kindsof objects. I don'tthrow plastic away, I recycle it. A matter of principle. But what happens to the vastamountsof plastic that are collected by supermarkets?I'vebeen askingmyself that question for a long time... Nowthat the Chinese refuse our © 123RF.com
  • 2. plastic waste. Isit being burned here? Are the toxic chemicals now released in the air we breathe? Best would be notto buy any plastic. In a drawer, I find thick paperfolders with cellophane windowsfrom the 1990s. They remindme of my first job in Zurich. I was very young, freshly arrived from Paris in thiscountry that I thencalled "pretty" butwhere people spokea dialect I didn'tunderstand. WHAT TO KEEP? WHAT TO PASS ON? The longer I tidy up, the more memoriesrise to the surface. Memoriescome with the thick paper folders (which showeda rare ecological awareness for thattime; a sortof “green washing” before the term was coined), with pencils made of untreatedwood from Swiss forests, labeled with the logo of the communicationagency I was working for at the time. I sortout, throw away, give away. "Youcan never give enough," my grandmotherJeanneusedto say. "And tothose who havenothing, youhave to give the best." What shouldI save for my daughter?Her first pajamas, her first shoes, tiny orange ones with green andwhite flowers, a few drawings and Palou, the stuffed dog?One day she will be the one sortingoutand letting memories escape. Sortout, put away, give away, throw away – to welcome the new. To prepare for the post-holiday season, forgoingback to work. I only want to keep a few items from my past. But for now, all I want is to escape the heat behind closed blinds. Sylvie Castagné Zurich, August 15, 2021 * Second-handshopinSwissGerman