Burgenland

Burgenland

Moving on moving on moving on. We are always moving on. Faster than I have time to think or write about. We left Vienna for Burgenland, Burgenland for Paris, Paris for Los Angeles, LA for Arizona, and soon we will leave for 7 days on the Colorado River. There is hardly time to write about it all, but I will. I will I will I will I think to myself, drinking cool beer in 40 degrees on the hot red sandstone before diving back into Lake Powell. Eventually, I will.

The last few weeks have been rich with experience, thought, and feeling. In Vienna, the city, like Berlin, turned into an oven under the summer sun, but Burgenland brought beautiful relief, the concrete giving way to fields, farms, and forest.

When we arrived in Burgenland, to Wolfau where ‘Wolfau Oma’ lives, there were storm clouds gathering on the horizon and creeping overhead. A green pot plant hung next to us outside spilling small white blossoms from its edge. They hung in stark contrast to the deep purple black sky beyond. As the wind picked up, the pot plant started to twirl, and soon the lightning cracked overhead, the thunder boomed, and the rain arrived. We moved inside.

In Markt Allhau, just a few kilometres down the road, the air was heavy with warmth and humidity the following day. We walked paths with ‘Allhau Oma and Opa’ between small fields of produce, wheat, corn, hay, and other plants I didn’t recognise. Slugs were out in masses on the concrete path, because of the rain Oma tells us, and Simon translates for me. She leaves them alone here, but in her garden she takes her gardening scissors and snips them all in half. She once got 30 she tells us proudly, laughing that we feel bad for them. Her and Opa both laugh even louder when I stop to take a picture of a slug crossing the path. I’m baffled by their laughter, but amused and happy to hear it.

In Allhau Oma’s garden we pick raspberries, red currants, and little wild strawberries, filling our bellies and a small tub. It is still hot in the country, but we escape to the wald, the forestry blocks that Oma and Opa own. Searching for eierschwammerl, delicious golden orange mushrooms, we walk with Oma and Opa, listen to their disputes about the boundary of their block, listen to the trees whisper indifferently, listen to Opa’s content sighs and the cracks of twigs beneath our feet. Opa tells us that he is happy if he is in the forest.

It is too early in the year for eierschwammerl, but it has rained and we find enough for Oma to make a small soup. I was excited to forage for eierschwammerl, but when we get there I am quickly distracted by the wild blueberries, which I hadn’t expected at all. Dry them and eat them when you have diarrhoea Oma tells us. She is practical, pragmatic, and not experiencing the novelty of wild blueberries for the first time as I am. I pick and eat blueberries until my fingers are stained purple. Oma and Opa yell for me to keep up or I’ll become lost in the forest. Any thoughts of the city melt away completely.

Foraging in the wald, sipping drinks on the patio in Wolfau, watching storm clouds, laughing for one reason or another, absorbing Burgenlandish German, catching the final Euro football championship games. It was as if time held still in Burgenland, and if only it had… I’d have been able to share stories of running from lightning in the mountains, standing spellbound by ancients books and beautiful frescoes, climbing rickety ladders through a rift in a tall cliff with running waterfalls, peeking through to secret gardens hidden behind tall hedges at the Kaiser’s palace… but for all of this, you will have to wait. I have even more stories to start creating in the Grand Canyon.

See Burgenland

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