Raw milk

My dream –

In Europe on a visit home to North Wales, Gwynedd, Ynys Môn, I was invited to visit a friend in Switzerland, Canton Aargau, Muri, Sentenhof, in the hills, 28 kilometres southwest of Zurich.

The dairy was still active with 120 head of Brown Swiss dairy cattle. Much of the milk, close to a million kilograms a year for the herd, was used raw in the production of Emmentaler cheese.

The intention of my host was that I would simply enjoy the scenery the time I was there. I insisted that I be put to work, that I contribute. Experienced in the maintenance and repair of farm machinery, and a tractor mechanic, that is where I made myself useful. As everything was generally in good repair, I worked the pastures, fields, and orchards. In the fields, there were potatoes and other root crops; in the orchards, apples.

I was given a room in the attic of the old farmhouse. At the beginning of every day, I descended the stairs to the rest of the house, not to return upstairs ’til evening. A window looked out towards the mountains, but at that time of year – late spring, early summer – I seldom saw them. The furniture was all of old, well-loved wood; the bed, sized for a couple, was sumptuous with cotton, wool, and down. It was heavenly, the very embrace of clouds.

One day, a couple of weeks into my stay, already familiar with the daily routines of both dairy and farm, and working on the revitalisation of an old tractor thought long dead, a city vehicle was seen approaching, and turned into the front drive. From a distance, I could see a man and woman, seemingly quite familiar to the family. Ultimately, I was pointed at, then beckoned. I set my tools to rest, and walked to the vehicle.

It apparently had become widely known since my arrival that I was multi-lingual. I knew enough German and Italian to get by, but I also spoke other languages encountered in the area, including French, Serbo-Croatian, and Russian. Digging deeply, with experience in Greek and South Slavic languages, I could also navigate my way around Albanian.

None of these were the concern of the day, though. Members of the City Council had come to request my assistance with a group of Chinese tourists coming down from Zurich to view the Benedictine Muri Abbey, with its thousand year old history. Yes, Chinese was among the languages of my repertoire. And, yes, I would be happy to help.

In town, all cleaned up, of course, I found that the group had its own interpreters; so I was just an extra, tagging along to assist as needed. There were twelve in the group, men and women, middle-aged or older, all appearing to be northern Chinese, and speaking Beijing standard Mandarin.

One woman caught my eye, and I, hers. She hung back to ask me a question. She was concerned more with the livelihood of the locals than the iconic structure before her. I told her that Aargau was well-known for its cheese, Emmentaler; and that, though from Wales, I was staying at and working on a dairy in the hills only half an hour away.

She introduced herself as Chonghuang 重凰, from Beijing. I introduced myself as Simo, Zhou Simo 周思墨, or Morgan, or Morgan Morgan, as everyone called me. 我告诉她那个名字是一位老师很早给我起的名字.

This was just a day trip out of Zurich. Tomorrow afternoon, they would all be travelling to Vienna.

As she was interested in the farm, I offered to take her there, but, then, getting back to Zurich from Muri would be a problem. If she could spend the night, I might be able to arrange that. I could drive her to Zurich in the morning, mid-morning. We were both quite obviously thinking already where all of that might lead.  

After chatting for a while in low voices, Chonghuang excused herself to speak with the group leader. When she returned, a twinkle in her eye, a blush on her face, as if she was being excused to do something naughty, at least to her, she said that it was all arranged, that she could go.

I had taken liberties in inviting her, but I was a guest. She could be a guest of mine. We drove back to the farm in the old farm truck I had borrowed.

It was lunchtime; so we made ready for lunch.

Chonghuang was you.

The middle meal of the day was the communal meal. All hands on the farm sat together at a long wooden table. There, we were served the fare of the day by those who had prepared it in the large farm kitchen. I had gotten to know them well. I liked helping in the kitchen. I loved the smell of the cellars, too, where the potatoes, onions, carrots, swedes, and apples were kept cool. The cheeses where kept separately in their own cellar.

I had mentioned you to the family on our arrival, but this would be your formal introduction.

As everyone was hungry, and eager to eat, I kept it brief. You were a friend from China, here on a visit, while your husband was on business in Hamburg and Berlin. You would just be staying the night. Your name was Chonghuang. With nods of approval all around, no raised eyebrows noticed, we began to eat.

There were the common, usual, home-cooked dishes of all that was grown right there on the farm. That day, the meat was chicken, but the main courses were created around potatoes and apples. There was also freshly baked bread and butter, churned from the raw milk of the cows just right outside in the surrounding pastures. You politely tried everything, but all of it was new to you.

After lunch, though certainly not required, I helped clean up. That is how I had made my way into the kitchen initially. If I am not the cook, I am the clean-up. That is my personal rule. You followed along.

After we had taken care of the dishes, pots, and pans, with the permission of the mâitre de cuisine, I took you down to the cellars. As we descended the wooden steps, I gave you my hand. Once in the coolness and the subdued light, I kept your hand, and guided you around. Our conversation was in Chinese. With every step and moment, we grew more and more familiar.

We did not go to the cheese production area, as it required special care in access, but we did go the ageing cellars. In wheels of 80 to 100 centimetres in diameter, 75 to 100 kilograms each, on wooden racks, the Emmentaler was aged to four differing maturities – Classic, four months; Reserve, eight months; AOP Appellation d’Origine Protégée (protected designation of origin) Extra, 12 months; and Vintage, 24 months.

As cheese is not consumed in China, all of this was new to you. Despite and still, you played along. If nothing else, you were learning something, and it was the best ever excuse to be together with a Welshman on a dairy in Switzerland.

Working backwards, as it were, we then went to visit the dairy barns, and the cows themselves.

The milk of Brown Swiss is ideal for the production of cheese. With one of the best fat to protein ratios of any milk – 3.5% protein to 4% butterfat, 4.6% total fat – used raw, of course, without homogenisation or pasteurisation, Brown Swiss milk is the secret to perfectly creamy Emmentaler cheese.

The cows, at about 600 kilograms fully grown, are still good-natured. With permission, both from the tender and from the cow, by hand, into a small milk jar, I squeezed you several squirts of warm frothy milk.

‘Can I drink it just like this?’

‘That’s when it’s best.’

Though not accustomed to milk at all, you seemed at least moderately pleased. I drank what you didn’t finish.

After showing you my tractors, the potatoes, swedes, and onions in the fields, and the apple orchard, evening was nearly upon us.

‘We’ll be on our own this evening. There is no communal meal. I was thinking we’d have a little cheese, bread, and apple. The apples are last year’s, but the cellar maintains a bit of their tartness and crispness.’

‘The family watches the television, but I prefer to read upstairs. As we’ve been together all afternoon, the presumption is that I will take care of you for the night as well. I was given the wink of approval on that account.’

‘I’m tired, but cheese and bread sound good. A quiet night sounds good, too.’

‘We could bring that upstairs with us. Would that be alright?’

‘That sounds great.’

Upstairs, I offered you a bath. There was no shower. While you were bathing, I prepared the cheese, bread, apples, and fresh apple cider. All freshened, you had nothing to change into; so I lent you an old clean work shirt. It was as if we had known one another for ages. Maybe it was the language, and my experience in China. You were at ease with me; I, with you.

It was then my turn to bathe. I was quick, but when I came out, you were asleep on the bed. You had had a nibble of the cheese and bread, and a swallow of cider, and then sleep overwhelmed.

While you slept, I read the Nietzsche I had brought along. I glanced at you occasionally, but I was comfortable just being by your side. How was it that you should come all that way, and find yourself in my bed, the bed to which I had come also from very far away?

My eyes glistened with tears, one rolled down my cheek. I had loved that bed alone. Now that you were on it, how much more I loved it.

After about an hour, you began to stir.

‘Oh my, I fell asleep. How long was I asleep?’

‘About an hour. I wore you out with the tour of the farm I gave you.’

‘No, that was wonderful. I feel so lucky. I don’t know what the others are doing back in Zurich, but I’m sure they didn’t have the fun I had. Have I been a burden, though. I kept you from your work.’

‘My real work is writing, and that’s not work, either. What I do here is just an expression of gratitude for being granted the opportunity to stay.’

‘Did you want some more of this? I’ll just put a cover on it, if you don’t.’

‘No, thank you, not now.’

‘Did you watch me sleep?’

‘Not intently, but attentively. You’re pretty hard to resist, especially in my old work shirt.’

‘Did I do anything embarrassing?’

‘Like what? I’ve seen legs and panties in my day.’

‘Did I do anything rude?’

‘There’s nothing that you could do that would be embarrassing or rude.’

‘You’ve been sitting in that chair all this time. Come and be with me on the bed.’

‘I thought you’d never ask.’

I put my book down, and jumped up next to you. I don’t do pyjamas; I wore a pink cotton pagne and a black cotton tank top. You smiled.

‘You like pink?’

‘I adore pink. I always have.’

Within minutes, we were both naked, and doing everything we could to get to the fucking.

After a couple of hours, we took a break for the rest of the cheese, bread, apples, and cider, and then got back at it ’til we surrendered to sleep. It had been a very long day for both of us.

In the morning, we awakened early with the sun. You got up and ran naked to the window to look for the mountains. They could not be seen. Jumping back in bed, kissing me, you grabbed for my cock. I put my fingers in your pussy. It was still cummy from the night before, and was getting wet again. Again, we made love.

While dressing for the trip back up to Zurich, I said, ‘I never asked you if it was alright with you if we shared a bed. We did a lot more than that, didn’t we?’

‘When I saw you at the church, I knew. Things like that don’t happen by accident. You are here, because I would be here. I am here, because you are here. We had to sleep together, because we’re here together for each other.’

‘And I have devoted over 45 years of my life to China, all in preparation for meeting you yesterday, so that we could fuck last night?’

‘That’s right.’

‘I like your logic. It’s not going to end here, then; you know that. There’s got to be more.’

‘There’ll be more, somewhere, sometime.’

‘Do you do this often, sleep with near strangers?’

‘I think I’ve known you all my life. We just hadn’t met yet. Now we’ve met. Now we’ve re-connected that circle, the end has become the beginning. We get to start again.’

‘When are you going back to Wales?

‘I could go anytime, really. Shall we meet again there?’

‘Let’s do. Now I’d better get back to Zurich before I miss Vienna.’

‘Or we could head west to Paris. That’s where all the best and the naughtiest girls and boys go in their dreams.’

You smiled, considering my offer.