This is my first essay for a new site that recently launched, Utopian Idiots. To get an idea of what this platform seeks to do, give John Jalsevac’s introductory essay “Things Should Take A Long Time” a read–it’s worth the time.
We came upon Heididorf by accident, winding between the Swiss mountains on a drive from my meeting in Salzburg to another in Zug. My wife spotted the sign for Maienfeld first. Why was that name so familiar? Perhaps it was the landscape, with the Alpine peaks rushing skyward all around us, but it struck me suddenly: Heidi. Maienfeld was the village in Johanna Spyri’s 1881 Swiss classic, Heidi, which I must have read a half dozen times growing up. A few miles down the road, and another sign confirmed it—we were in Heidi’s country, a land forever defined by the love of a single little girl.
We swung off the highway into the village, a lovely collection of windy cobblestone streets, spires, and little shops that were just beginning to close up for the day. Rustic wooden signs pointed us up towards the mountains. We left the village and began to wind our way up the mountainside. We crossed meadows and passed farms settling in for the night, the cottage windows glowing a warm and welcoming gold in the dusk. Eventually, the narrow, winding road reached a plateau paved with asphalt, and a billboard in the corner informed us that the “original Heidi house” was a short hike up the mountain.