The last interaction of 2020 makes it the first story of 2021, what a blessing and luck to meet passionate people, especially in very random places and times!
Local families with kids surely know what Raten is: the paradise for easy-sledging a 30mn drive away from Zug, next to Oberaegeri. As snow finally arrived we've been there a few times, and while the boys practiced their sliding skills, I engaged in a fight involving the stroller and an icy, snowy road.
I did not know however that the forest of the Raten-Gottschalkenberg area belong to a protected environmental zone, and I was pleased to discover many signs for the "Naturena Naturprojekt" describing local flora and fauna.
I was about to turn grumpy from the efforts to push the stroller up the road, until I noticed a smiling lady in a forest-green jacket and a pair of binoculars in her hand. She easily overtook me, then she stopped in the snow to look at the trees further down the road. Obviously I had to join her and ask some questions.
Ursina is working as "Waldaufsicht", a Forest Supervisor mandated by the Canton of Zug to observe the wildlife in the area. Despite my broken German (I never expected to talk birds and trees in the language) she kindly shared some insights about her role (not her "job"). A book on local bird species in her handm she explained me how she was monitoring wildlife and taking notes of her observations to report to the cantonal authorities.
As we were talking, she was carefully observing the nest of a red bird, whose name I would not remember, but that she described as a unique parrot-looking little guy whose specialty has been to nest in the middle of the winter.
Our conversation was quiet and totally pleasant, with the only disturbance of the cars driving towards Gottschalkenberg and hoping to find a non-existing parking spot (on a snowy, sunny day, your chances to find a spot to park in Raten are very slim). Ursina kept on explaining that she is ensuring that local wildlife is thriving as it should at this time of the year, meaning that many species should hibernate in peace during the wintery months, while others (like our parrot bird) should breed actively.
We talked and laughed about the buzz from the ski and sledging slopes, while we were trying from our standpoint not to disturb what was going on around us. Raten is the starting point of a locally-known snowshoe trail, and she explained that while you have a dedicated path to walk on, people tend to leave the trail and venture in the woods. During her observation tours she always try to bring people back on the right track (literally) by explaining how they might disturb hibernating species or walking on plants that should recover during the winter.
Her motivation and smile were contagious. I left her to her duties, pushing the stroller down the road with a lightened heart and a smile on my own face: No snow or ice would disturb my day anymore.