Notes from the Unexpected: Zürich’s one and only lake speaks up

by D.B. Miller

On certain days, it’s uncanny: the turquoise shallows, cobalt drop and unrelenting shimmer for as far as the neck can crane. The Mediterranean, you could swear it—with a squint and some imagination, maybe even a cove around St. Tropez. Toss in a few gulls and those Boesch motorboats that cost as much as a watch, and you’re living the dream.


Except the dream is right here, in a landlocked country, fertilizing the shores and giving the lucky people who live on them something to look at. On this, the locals and transient folk agree: Zürisee is the city’s crowning asset. Once an international trade route, today a playground, but still: 88 square kilometers of alpine aqua pura are reason enough to be proud, if not a bit punchy.

Because some have the nerve to call it small—but tell that to the gent who couldn’t quite get to shore on a morning swim. While it was traumatic for that poor girl, wading into his corpse at the Badi, he had to go! When you’re classified as potable, you have a reputation to uphold.

And is “banana-shaped” really the best the guide books can do? Show me the banana that can hike up rents, wow UNESCO and host spaghetti-themed cruises without irony. Show me any fruit that can turn from green to purple to steel in an hour, creeping to the edges like silence or a thousand little blades.

Mix it up, keep them guessing, show them who’s boss. Kick up the surf and blame the boats. Turn up the temp and call out the fleas. For every record-breaking heatwave, there’s ice in living memory. For every preening swan, a coot squeaks like bicycle brakes and never gets the bread. The banks that now teem with people once swarmed with disease. Come in, the water’s fine, but the parent who loses sight of a child for one second ages five years.

Postcards lie, but nature doesn’t. You just keep moving—east to west, glacier to river, liquid to cloud, surface to floor. You’re more than a pretty picture: you’re as deep as the darkness 136 meters down. So the next time your eye skips over the void to gaze at the twinkling hills, remember: lights seem brighter when they’re mirrored in black.


DB Miller is a writer of short stories and essays, along with an occasional Tweet @DBMillerWriter

Gallery of Zürisee images from @libby_ol‘s Instagram.

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Author: D.B. Miller

D.B. Miller is an American writer who has been living in Europe since 1995. As well as being a regular contributor to The Woolf, her essays, short stories and offbeat profiles have appeared in The Weeklings and Split Lip Magazine.

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  1. I completely agree. Our pictures capture the real deal. A snap shot in time with real colours and images. A vision from our eyes. Better still being there live in person!

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  2. Important assets ! For our world too !
    Thank you for info.

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  3. Absolutely stunning. Best friend lives in Zurich. It is one beautiful city.

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  4. Wonderful creation!
    Calms down the spirit, clarifies the mind like lake in a peaceful and ever constant dwelling.
    Thank you for sharing, it makes the world go round.

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  5. Your Blog Was So Awesome And Photographs Were Too Good And I Am New Here So Can You Please Follow Back I Will Be Very Thankful To You

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  6. Very nice blog. Thank you, also, for sharing the pictures.

    One more thing to be said, and it is a feature I never much thought about while still living in Switzerland, but that comes to mind when glancing over from the USA: the Zurichsee is a natural lake (as far as I know). No dam needed.

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  7. You must have been on the lake a number of times to get all those gorgeous shots. It is indeed a scenic vista.

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  8. The Zurichsee is a great asset for an already great city. I am privileged to have lived there for several months and have always admired the beauty of the lake.

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  9. I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful places. This one is no different. The way you described it made me want to go there! I want to see those waters with my own eyes. It seems like a peaceful place, away from all the worries of the world. ^_^

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  10. Phantasmagorical it is . love your presentation 🙂

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  12. I really like the pure, bright blue sky. I think that really sets the scene.

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  13. My grandson spent two wonderful weeks there this past summer. Great writing, shall stop back from time to time. Semper fi

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  14. Unbeleivably beautiful. Sold! Already planning my trip 😉

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  15. Your pictures are just amazing!!!!! I would love to go and capture them with ny own eyes, meanwhile i will take a look at yours again!

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  16. Wow awesome images. The color just pops off the screen. I feel like I’m there!

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  17. Nice. I first read a description of Zürisee in my Omi’s “Peter Stäubli” books.

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  18. a unique city in a beautiful country where nature is respected and appreciated. We have to learn their secret. Thank you for the wonderful view!

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  19. awesome pic. I wish i could be there

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