Approximately eighty people gathered at the mountaintop,
at the top of a long and winding road, with the ruins of an
ancient castle nearby, overlooking a charming traditional
The last dozen meters of the trail is a meditation walk
through an arbor in the hillside lined with plaques commemorating
the efforts of many humanitarians. Inscribed flagstones have
been placed along the walk, each of which bears a different
meditative theme. In the small vineyard at the top, the vines
were individually dedicated to contributors and patrons, in
support of the care of abused children.
Although the air and the breeze was cool, the eighty attendees
were warmed by the spirit of the occasion, which commemorated
the gift of life and the tradition of freedom that Farinet
represents to the people of the Valais.
Jacqueline Casari, the president of the Winter World Transplant
Games Committee, the Mayor of Saillon, and the minister for
public health each welcomed the crowd, thanking them for showing
their support for transplantation and giving the gift of life.
The vine grafting itself took place in a much smaller adjoining
vineyard, where only three vines were growing. Representatives
of the World Transplant Games performed the actual transplant,
with a fanfare provided by a drummer and a trumpeter in classical
After the ceremony, a reception took place in a small park
behind the vineyard. Many of the people in attendance were
familiar with each other through their participation in the
transplant community, and many people took the opportunity
to renew old acquaintances. Others were old friends, and the
atmosphere quickly became that of a reunion.
One of the features of the park was a narrow line of marble
set into the ground. At the western end of the line was a
marble grid, laid out in black and white tiles like a chessboard.
The other end points to the place on the horizon where the
sun rises on June 21st, the longest day of the year. This
marble path is central to the reenactment of a bit of local
Farinet, a local legendary figure (somewhat similar to the
British Robin Hood), lived in the mountains around Saillon
some two hundred years ago. Part of his legend states that
although he carried a shotgun, he never actually shot anyone.
Instead, he would fire it into the air to mock the authorities
by letting them know that he was still alive (and free).
As part of this celebration of new life through transplantaion,
the guests at the reception gathered in a small amphitheatre
facing the marble line. Beat Gottschalck, the technical director
of the Games, dressed up with a red neck scarf, a hat and
coat, and a long shotgun, the traditional costume of Farinet.
He then walked along the marble path, stood on the black and
white grid at the end, and after the boisterous countdown
from the audience, fired a single celebratory blast into the