And just like that, the cold weather left.
The wines in our region have through their quality put us on the wine map of sommeliers and wine lovers the world over. Making wine is far from easy, is labour intensive and only has one harvest per year. And, this recent spell of cold weather has wiped out a huge part of the newly budding vines.
Our area still has that rare flair of being mostly tended to by real people and not mere machines. Wine that we ( our vintners ) make has a special handcrafted touch. Of course some of the bigger estates might use machinery, but on the whole, our wine region still makes wine the traditional way.
As I've said before, what one pays for a bottle of wine doesn't reflect the huge amount of work and costs involved. But, vintners are passionate about their craft and happy when someone appreciates their wine.
This recent bout of bad luck for the 2016 vintage, might make a few wine farmers look to make a living doing other things...one has to feed the family after all! But, I hope most will weather the storm and make it through a season where the amount of grapes to be harvested has dwindled.
There are so many of you wine lovers out there and I have a suggestion to make:
Why don't you buy a case of wine from our area? Selling all of this years and past vintages will make a difference to the various small & medium sized wine estates.
Preserving old traditions is a must and once you've spent a weekend or so here, you'll see the wonderful process of planting, pruning, harvesting & making wine.
I almost forgot the most important part...our region's wines are out of this world! Here is a link to the local Eisenberg Vinothek, a place that sells only locally produced wines. Online too.
Only a few days ago the Bobster was parading around the garden in his trusty shorts ( eh, the one touching the knee, not those that are a tad bit to short for most spectator's comfort ) and was almost complaining about the strength of the sun. Well, he shouldn't have, because the weather fairy let him have it yesterday.
Wednesday morning is my usual day for walking with the Deutsch Schützener ladies, if they turn up...early morning there was a mere hint of moisture in the air but hardly enough to eschew the walk. No one felt a similar need and I was standing there alone at 8am, deciding whether to jump back into the chariot and drive to a nice and cozy home when I mentally kicked myself into walking.
Every walk has a turning point, that point where it is shorter to turn around than to carry on. Murphy's law, as I had passed that point, the heavens opened up with a vengeance. The rain pelted me from all corners and it didn't take long before I was soaked to the bone. Even my supposedly weatherproof North Face jacket was weighed down with accumulated rain. Of course the odd car that buzzed past did so without stopping...nobody wants a drenched car seat!
The irony was that walking in the rain is unbelievably beautiful and feels soul cleansing. Those errant thoughts of impeding illness due to rain, were quashed with the knowledge that having a daily shower doesn't infect me with a cold either. The fields were luscious in their colours and the grass was brilliantly green arching with the added burden of raindrops clinging on to the blades.
Coming home was divine as Bob had stoked the fire and made our house nice and cosy. The weather fairy decided to let us have a lot more rain, and when I went out later in the afternoon, I had two separate sources come to me with reports of snow. Luckily, not quite in Eisenberg yet, but a mere 20 km's out.
The Bobster in his joy at seeing sunshine weeks on end at the end of March, had decided to put all our winter clothes away into the barn almost daring the weather fairy to defy him...and somehow facing a batch of cold weather in summer kit is far from comfortable. And just to put your mind at ease, Bob has included one pair of long-johns in his summer wardrobe and is sporting them as we speak.
As one says, it was arranged for me to pick up an elderly lady and chauffeur her to the local doctor's rooms. A relatively late time, eight in the morning, was chosen because I know it takes a while for her to get ready. On my side, it means an earlier start as she lives about a 15 minute drive away.
Tuesdays and Fridays are what villagers fondly call the Vampire days. Don't worry, we are not in the Twilight Zone but those are merely the days where blood samples get taken and analysed at the phlebotomist's lab. As you can imagine, those two days are usually the busiest and waiting times are rather on the lengthy side.
For a change I was early ( a mere minutes, so don't congratulate me yet ) and meandered through the various villages on the way to hers. The chariot is still acting up and squealing every chance it gets, which leaves me rather embarrassed and driving as slow as can be..
The usual suspects were going about their business and I also espied a lady and her dog, who usually walk with me on a Wednesday. Gosh, had I mixed up my days? A quick wave and on I drove getting to my destination five minutes early.
Naturally, my chariot announced me ahead of time and the ladies son came up to the gate, with a questioning look on his face.
" Hi, why are you here today? You supposed to fetch her on Tuesday! " " Well, today is Tuesday. " " Yes, but I did organize for you to pick up my mum on the 26th. " ( this was said in a rather triumphant way ) " Oh yes, today is the 26th! "It turns out that he got his weeks mixed up after all. Honestly though, I did wonder throughout our little conversation if I had indeed chosen the wrong date. Has that ever happened to you, that while you speak your mind races through a whole lot of dots and date markers, in order to be sure?
My thoughts flitted to the various pointers and within seconds I had certainty. Of course he felt a bit embarrassed at having scrambled up the dates in his mind. After reassuring him that it wasn't a big deal, we set the date for next Tuesday ( yes, I will phone and remind him, don't worry ).
In the scheme of things, it was rather funny and did get me an early start to my day. Those I mentioned it to, mumbled that perhaps I should have reminded him before I set off, but one can't go through life assuming that people aren't reliable...
I seem to remember that a friend of ours, got the dates of her flight mixed up and thus missed it...now, that's more of a problem.
We should just call ourselves the 000,1% percenters, because, let's face it, we live by the code of:
There is a 000,0001 percent chance that this could happen, therefore I won't...
The other day I was clicking through a lot of old photos online ( well, not really that old ) from the 60's and 70's and I have to tell you that I felt very envious and nostalgic. No, I was still a wee bairn then, but still!, that feeling of freedom from worries seemed to jump off the screen.
All of the modern day worries we have surrounded and barricaded ourselves with, weren't that prominent or even there then. Life was there to get on with. Most of us had never heard of seat belts, child safety seats, airbags, headrests and the likes. Of course they save so many lives, but we didn't know then and we turned out alright.
Food was food, and if it still seemed fresh we ate it. Sight and taste were the deciding factors and not the authorities who might have been sponsored by the food manufactures! Worth a thought, isn't it?
Work was work, and it was enough to feed and house your family. Obviously according to your means, but the 60's was the decade before the banks started to egg us on into taking up loans galore to finance a lifestyle that was just a touch above what we should have had in order to live a life free of financial stress.
The mass epidemic of living beyond our means was enabled by the invention of credit cards and it takes superhuman effort to withstand its allure and hold.
We live a life that hinges on the ' what ifs ' and when you think about it, we don't actually live our lives, in a way that acknowledges how precious and fabulous it is. We are so busy worrying about having all of those ducks in a row ( by the way, often they are the society's idea of ducks ) that by the time we do, it is too late.
Many inventions that we use daily are good, lifesaving and make our lives easier, but somehow I think that back in the day when our parents were young, they weren't as worried about each little possible thing happening, the way are now and I think they had more fun living their life....
It stands to reason, that in a wine haven such as ours, a tasting has to be arranged at times. Actually, there are four such momentous events throughout the year.
The Wine-Spring / Weinfrühling is a lovely way to taste the wines and welcome the warm weather. As much as I like to brag about the wines within walking distance, there are a few wine-corners a short driving distance away. Well, this wine event lasts all weekend, involves buses galore, seven wine regions and over 60 different vineyards.
Next weekend will see our village inundated with wandering wine-lovers, many Viennese, loads of locals and two Londoners... Yes, our friends from London are jetting in for the weekend. Why not, it is a mere hop anyway. Far from being Eisenberg novices, they have been here many times and have attended many wine events.
By purchasing an entry bracelet ( 29 Euros ) which resembles one of those hospital ones ( rather handy when you consider the amount of tasting on offer ) we can use any of the hourly buses to and from the various wine villages, and taste 5 wines at each vineyard...Some of you might have done a bit of mental arithmetic and realized that theoretically one could taste hundreds of wines over a two day period...
Even visiting a handful of places is an irritation for one's liver, balance and speaking ability...nothing for it but to learn to say " Eh, no, " or to use the spittoon.
What is the etiquette of using said spittoon, and using it in a ladylike manner? Men do have an advantage as they've practiced the art of spitting from an early age, but us ladies are not well versed in this art:
Perhaps the best way would be to only go to a few select vineyards and leave the rest for next year...Or, we could try that much banded about old wives tale, you know the one about drinking a cup of olive oil before heading out...
Even though she is a house cat only, yet cleverly (!) she has managed to get herself a few tiny companions running wild among her fur. We think she picked up her guests while playing incessantly among the chopped wood pile. That source has been cut off to her as we now keep the chopped logs in an enclosed box.
Tiny insects on a cat are nothing new but still, not nice for her or us. Seeing her scratch madly makes us itch with her. We've been lured into trying the chemical antidote to fleas etc, but those are not very effective.
Someone told me the other day that putting coconut oil on a dog or cat's fur, keeps the fleas at bay and makes their coat shiny and soft to boot. A trusty Google research confirmed this and luckily I had a batch of coconut oil in the fridge. Yes, fridge as it is in solid form until you heat up.
But before I could do the deed, I had to circumvent a concerned dad. Bob didn't want his princess to have anything that wasn't good for her. A few Google moments later, Bob agreed and we tag teamed her in the bathroom. Cats aren't very fond of having stuff put on them...
Well, little Mausi was a star and merely closed her eyes in silent ( and imagined ) suffering but after a while she enjoyed having her body massaged. Not so sure about the smell though...
The minute we put her down, she ran off while licking her back at times. Don't fret, even if they ingest the oil, it is good for them. Of course, having a bit of oil rubbed into the fur, makes it greasy and clumped together which rather looked as if it had been gelled. Too funny for words. Bob thought she looked like a 70's punk rocker ...
As for the creepy crawly population, they seem to have lessened considerably and I have found a few tiny bodies that have gone to meet their maker.
Mausi's fur is ultra shiny and soft at the moment and quite frankly, I am starting to consider the option of rubbing a bit of coconut oil into my hair...although, instead of a punk chick I will resemble a drowned rat for sure.
Never mind, I can mimic the iconic UB40's song...There's a rat in my kitchen what am I gonna do? straight after the taking their other classic song, Red, red wine... to heart!
Walking on the outskirts of Deutsch Schützen yesterday morning, bathed in the odd sunshine, feeling the at times icy tentacle of an unexpected wind gust and mentally sending up numerous Thank You's to the powers that be ( who wouldn't ? ), I saw my friend approach on his vehicle of choice...the motorized lawn mower. A vehicle of choice for the over 70's it seems although I have seen The Bobster ogling one of the more suped up versions flitting around the village greens...
Living in the rural areas means that the hectic rush assumed in the urban environs is a foreign and frowned upon concept. It's just not done! So there he was, chugging along towards me with a big grin on his face. Once we were side by side, he took his foot of the pedal and idled along side me.
He had his trailer hooked up and it was filled to the brim, yet covered up almost like contraband. But, I knew that he'd been on his weekly grocery shop in the village. Shooting the breeze for a few moments led to his gleeful explanation of his good mood.
" Birgit, can you imagine, I won 105 Euros on the lotto! "...ah, the good life.
As you know, some of my family is in town and after breakfast I set off on a leisurely drive around the vineyards, looking for them as I had missed them the evening before.
I purposefully said leisurely, as our chariot needs some attention. Two weeks ago we treated it to new brakes and ever since, a tap on the brakes means a squeaky & head turning sound. Don't worry, it's going in to be sorted out today but in the meantime it means driving around and being noticed.
When the lotto train finally sees us waving and pulls into our station, I won't be driving an expensive head turner....those are more of a punishment and extra pressure to not stall the car!
Already I plan my routes to roads where the hills are of a minimum, but that is far from easy among the vineyards. So, there I was crawling along the various lanes searching for my aunt and uncle, when I espied a couple walking their dog about 100 meters in front of me.
It is still early in the tourist season and not so many are meandering about, so it must have been my aunt. Well, I idled up behind them and eventually had to apply brakes, which had them jump to the side of the road in fear....never mind, I parked the chariot on the verge and joyfully showed myself and we chatted, hugged and marveled at the beauty of life, life in our Burgenland.
We've been brave and hopefully trendsetting in not mowing down the first green and wild flowery appearances on our lawn. Looking about our village, it seems that the Bobster and I are the unnoticed trendsetters. Oh yes, lawns have been given the short, back & sides cropping. Bob gave in a little bit to peer pressure and neatened the edges of our lawn. Yes, a bit of a domestic standoff in our household...
But, when I mentioned our attempt to lay out the red carpet for the bees, it was pointed out to me that the armada of bees is missing. Ambling among the golden field of dandelions which are really happily showing off their beauty, it came to my attention that there was no buzz.
In the years gone by, there usually would be that collective buzz outside. A merry mingling and catching up while hovering over the various blossoms provided. The lack of it frightens me terribly. Who will pollinate all the crops? More importantly, what has happened to those hard working bees?
Has our addiction to aesthetics and greed finally tipped the balance and sent the bees to extinction? All well and good having a pristine garden with nary a weed in sight, or having the perfect looking vegetable, but have you ever thought about the effect all of it has on the bees?
Others say that the various unseen rays flitting about everywhere, mainly the wifi ones, are confusing the bees or rather disorientating them with the result that worldwide the bee populations are reducing at an alarming rate.
At times it seems that the Bobster and I are the only ones not whipping out a Smartphone at the drop of a hat, the appearance of a cappuccino, a decoratively arranged plate of food or that recent craze of pouting ones lips in an alarming manner for an ubiquitous selfi.
Kind of ironic, that perhaps an Apple started the ball rolling...
Mondays do have the unfortunate timing of happening after a few days of rest, but even though it means a return to the grindstone of choice, Mondays do promise excitement, change and surprises in the week ahead. Sort of like a lucky packet.
One surprise, which really isn't one, is the arrival of my aunt and uncle from the Bavarian climes. They are staying at one of the Kellerstöckls but even though, we will get to mingle and catch up with them. Family matters after all.
Le Bob is even more excited about the coming visit, as he has learned from these last five years, that if family comes for a visit, delectable morsels are never far off. Especially the Bavarian morsels. In his mind, he is already planning when and where to eat the cheese, that he hopes to receive. We've had occasions of feasting on Weisswurst, Bretzen & Bavarian beer before too. We'll see how it pans out.
The area my family originates from is renowned for its cheese factory. This cheese is exported all over the world. Maybe you've seen it somewhere in your supermarket. The Bergader Cheese Factory One of their best known cheese is the Bavaria Blue...a most divine blue cheese. Anyway, when the family visits, their cooler boxes are often overflowing with cheese. Hold thumbs for us...
Today the birds were already chorusing merrily before the sun was up, and now that it is on the horizon the village is bathed in a warm glow. A warm glow that holds a hint of magic.
We all like to grumble about Mondays, but somehow a typical Monday can flit passed at the speed of light, not to mention the week it heads up. Sorry to burst your bubble, but do you know that New Year's is almost five months old? Time does fly.
I hope your week will be as nice or even better than you expect...Have a nice Monday.
It must have been a life changing event being lucky enough to see Bob Dylan perform back in the 60's and 70's. In a way he does embody the divine allure of the hippy culture. Life seemed less pressured, more fun, most definitely more colourful and far less materialistic. Our modern obsession with this materialistic existence must feel like a betrayal to the followers of the Woodstock creed.
But, my encounter with the changing times is more rudimentary and in the strict sense of the times. The dissection of the beautiful English language into bits of time. Present, past, simple present, simple present perfect, simple present continuous and so forth.
As a native speaker, these bits of scholastic torture have left no imprint on my memory and frankly I might have never had the misfortune of meeting such an extreme analysis of changing times during my English lessons at school. Or at least I think so.
For some reason, all I remember of the five years of high school is an image of our English teacher - Mr Anderson - reclining on the table with a bunch of grapes in his hand. He was trying to get us interested in the Grecian times, which was definitely called for after our less than enthusiastic response to...
Ode on a Grecian Urn...by John KeatsI must say, he looked far removed from a Greek god, as he was reclining on a table a la Grecian mode, dressed in his khaki shorts, khaki short sleeved shirt and beige knee high socks while dangling a bunch of grapes above his face...but, remember I do. He was one of those fabulous teachers not everyone has the fortune to have.
At the moment I am trying to help a senior student grapple with the changing times, when and where to use and apply them. Not so easy to explain something that comes instinctivley.
Today will see me researching various worksheets on changing times, but I am hoping that my call to read will have sunk into a fertile mind. Without reading, finding the correct way out of the language labyrinth is jolly difficult. Let's not forget that the average book contains 100 000 words strung together into various expressions of time, meaning and word order.
A good and pleasant way to practice your English!
It started with the sun shining brightly the other morning and was spurned along by Bob doing heavy duty yard work, work where I wasn't needed. Yes, I did offer and ask.
At first I took down the kitchen curtains in order to let them have their fun in our washing machine. If you've ever taken down curtains, you'll know that it tends to be tedious if not heavy duty domestic stuff. Dangerous too as it needs a chair to balance on while you de-hook them.
In our case, there must have been at least 1000 hooks although I own up to my exaggeration and admit it was at least 50. While I was balancing on one of the kitchen chairs, our little Mausi was inquisitive as can be and if she could have, she would have helped me. A few times I have noticed her love of watching me clean in the various poses: floor, bathroom and now the curtain affair.
Gosh, nosy-parker that she is, it took all my persuasion to keep her out of the washing machine. Coincidentally, she has made it her favourite perch and has been known to sleep on top of it.
Having exposed the window, sadly the true state of the glass was not to be hidden anymore and thus I again braved the kitchen chair and started the window cleaning with my trusty side kick inspecting the bucket and the odd drop that had landed next to it. Of course now and again she would jump on the sill and help clean (!) the window with her front paws. More of a streaky affair.
Funny, how the dread of cleaning is much greater than the actual deed. Once any sort of cleaning has started, before you know it, it is done and dusted. Now that I am sitting in front of a clean window, it is jolly nice to see the sun's rays passing through without being distorted by the odd freckle of dust...
Just to set your mind at ease: no, I haven't been snatched up by the Extreme Cleaning Cult and am still a card carrying member of the Just do the necessary and enjoy a life..
Please, never ever forget that there is more to life than to waste it on the vicious circle, which let's face it, cleaning happens to be...
This oasis is rather large and needs attention now and again. It is edged in by a long hedge that has been left to become rather woody, that is until Bob gave it his attention.
An overgrown hedge is not so easy to get the better of and the bits that he couldn't do with the shears, his friend rode to the rescue. Even though I did mumble about the neighbourly eyes descending upon us, the same neighbours are extremely helpful and kind. Yesterday being another example of it.
Bob's friend Herbert phoned to ask if he could help him cut the trees along the hedge and Bob of course agreed straight away secure in the knowledge that hours upon hours of back breaking work had been taken off him.
Herbert has a tractor too and he brought it complete with trailer, chainsaw and a friendly greeting. Just like that, without any asking or pleading. Bob and I value this gem of neighbourliness because it is rare and thus a treasure beyond words. Especially in a world rife with that Me, myself and I virus...
Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be a slightly easier life if we'd all settle on our own little island, one that nobody but you can see and critique. Imagine going through life without that eternal & omnipresent thought of:
' Oh my, what will the neighbours, family or friends think? 'and let's be honest, even though we work like crazy to chop down this mental sign post and at times succeed, we get to realize how deep its roots are, because as sure as the moon follows the sun, so another guilt inducing sign post will grow in our fertile imagination.
At the moment the village greens look spectacular in their golden splendour. Dandelions are everywhere and seemingly in good cheer while they open their blossom to provide fodder for the bees and birds. Alas, already some lawns have been given the chop and with it the dandelions too.
Where are the bees meant to get their elixir to make the food for us, if we keep ripping out the flowers underneath their wings? Are looks so important to us that we would cut off our noses to spite our faces?
Our front and back lawns are golden carpets greeting us each and every time we come home. There is an accompanying buzz heard everywhere as the bees are awakening from their winter slumber. A happy buzz, or at least it sounds like it to me.
Bob has moments where he wants to knuckle down to peer pressure and give our lawn a brush cut and then I can see that he starts to contemplate what it would do to the bee's food supply.
Look, as much as I love small village living, it does have a few drawbacks and this might be one of them. In a place as small as ours, the neighbourly drive, walk or cycle by tends to happen and along with that raised eyebrow. It takes a sturdy spine to withstand the pressure...
Maybe we should make a banner and put it on our lawn:
Dear Friends & Neighbours, no, we are not lazy but we are big champions of the local bees. Our lawn will be overgrown for just a few days more.
The tulip is of course as old as the hills, but I found it interesting that a famous biologist who also lived in Vienna, Carolus Clusius introduced the tulip flower to Europe in the 17th century and perhaps planted the seeds that led to this first economic bubble...Tulip Mania
To shop hungry or not, seems to be the question. Have you ever noticed that if you do your grocery shop after you've had either a big lunch or breakfast, you bypass most of the questionable delectables. If you don't believe me, give it a try.
When one is as replete as a tick, the thought of buying anything other than a few staples seems overdone because as your trousers are nipping at your waist after a huge lunch, eating is the last thing on your mind. Well, Bob is of course a great planner and he ensures his stash of delightful unhealthies are somewhere in the trolley most elaborately covered by a bunch of carrots or a cabbage, safe in the knowledge that I won't find it either in the trolley or at home in his special stashing place.
Sorry to disappoint you Bob, but I know that the back of the glass cupboard has a few contraband ( chips, chocolates and your favourite pork rinds ) hidden in it.
The other side to this not being hungry coin, at least for me, is the sudden iron will to not eat too much in the foreseeable future. Yah, yah, old habits die hard...where was that will when I had seconds or possible thirds? Eh, please remember not to throw stones in glass houses!
There is one aisle in the supermarket which has me hovering and debating each and every time. Hungry or not. Bob is a veteran at decryption of Biggi speak, and knows exactly how to handle my dithering. Not too mention others who bump into me, more than likely in the same boat...The aisle in question...need you ask, is of course the biscuit isle.
Bob will eventually come and collect me with an ultimatum of:
" Just buy it already. As I am rather partial to the Doppelkeks, get two packets. "
This gets me moving every time, as I don't want Bob to be tempted at home. Gosh, he can sniff out a biscuit regardless where I hide it...even eating one needs to be timed to perfection. His hearing tends to be supersonic too and he can hear the crunch of a biscuit from the opposite side of the house.
At this moment in time, just like every morning for eons, I regret my stubborn piousness in front of the biscuit shelf. Is there anything nicer than a tasty biscuit with your cup of tea or coffee? With the usual wifely aplomb, I berate ( in jest of course ) my husband each and every morning:
" You know, if you'd only let me buy biscuits the other day, we could have a nice cup of coffee with Dopplekeks. "
Everyone and their uncle Charlie seem to have fallen for the idea of putting their dosh into far away climes, never to be seen again. What, is the use of that?
Why don't you rather enjoy your hard earned money in our wine-haven, right here in Südburgenland? Well, let's be honest, is there anything nicer than spending your wherewithal on some highly liquid assets?
Some of you might scoff and mumble that you cannot invest in junk bonds, but let me reassure you that some of the liquid assets in our village are triple rated with awards by various wine connoisseurs. Imagine, sipping your way through your portfolio and getting a nice buzz oh, sorry, return for your hard work?
Have you ever wondered what a holiday in a wine haven would be like? Well, once your car has reached the top of the hill and starts its descent into Eisenberg ( and might I mention that the road leading to us is saluted for miles by tall standing trees ) your breath will be taken away by the vista laid out for you.
Vines, fruit trees, forests and Kellerstöckls as far as you can see. Having chosen a place to rest your stressed body for a few days, you can let your car hibernate too, secure in the knowledge that most places in and around Eisenberg are walk-able.
We are small and quaint enough to have a taxi service known only by the owner's name...very Agatha Christie like.
Gosh, there is more to holidays than beach, bikini and martinis...A holiday in a wine haven is one where you can walk between the various vineyards, wine estates and speak to the vintner while tasting his wines, make notes and order more which you can have sent to your home.
Imagine a holiday with us, where the only choices you have to make are to do with food, wine and having a good time. Just in case you've imbibed too much, never fear, a spa is near...
Of course, I have to be honest and inform you, that once you've had a glimpse of our wine haven, it's not so easy to forget...