Hopeless Causes and surprises along the way

Today was laundry day.  After almost a week of wearing the same trousers and only a few shirts, we just plunged in (so to speak) and tried the machinethatbothwashesanddries.  We didn’t put in too much soap, and we managed to make the thing start and do what it was supposed to do.  Hooray…the laundry was not a hopeless cause, after all!   We felt a little  like country bumpkins, going in periodically to watch the drum roll around. (We do have a front loader at home but, well, this is the Austrian version, so it’s different.)  Next time, we’ll select a longer drying cycle because apparently 60 minutes is inadequate,  judging from the amount of apparel we have draped over every radiator in the apartment.  The good news is that stuff so arranged dries VERY quickly.

good thing this badezimmer ist gross

The day was beautiful so after we put in the last load, we headed outside for a walk through the woods:  up the hill towards a small grouping of buildings that lie just behind the apartment villa.  (We still don’t know what they are for. Someone obviously lives there, as there is most always a vehicle.  A mystery for another day.)

It is Sunday and that’s when you really see European families out for a Sunday stroll.  There were plenty on the path–runners in duos and alone, children with grandparents, mothers with high tech baby buggies.  The hill we live on is part of the bigger complex of the Leechwald (yes, LEECH Woods), with extensive trails on both wide, maintained paths and through the trees.

well maintained path along the woods

beginning of the running trail – km 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The running/walking trail goes for miles kilometers, up on the ridge behind where we live, past the edge of the city, and all the way to the beautiful Mariatrost Church.  We could see it from one of the higher, less obstructed views on our walk today.

Mariatrost Kirche

The day was pretty hazy…not atypical for Graz.  We have the same problem in Missoula, with mountain valley inversions.  How odd, then, that on our walk we should find a rehab center for those with lung diseases.  According to some lovely people we met on the path, that is it’s function and it’s part of the huge state hospital complex for Styria.  (good to be located near a hospital, I think!)  Perhaps the elevation on the Hilmteich is just enough to rise one up out of the smog.

Adalbert Graf Kottulinsky Foundation (the center for those with lung diseases)

So this started out to be a walk to look for and try to identify the birds we had been hearing for the past five days.  As we were peering up at some kind of woodpecker through our binoculars, a couple asked us (auf Deutsch) what we were seeing.  I actually understood that much.  After that, it was pretty much downhill as far as the German speaking went.  I didn’t know the name for woodpecker in German, but was able to stammer out the colors, at least.  They were interested and we shared the binoculars with them and thus began a delightful conversation with Christina and Gernot.  Christina, who has been to Montana and to many places in the Western U.S.  ( even been to Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Reservation!) is a teacher of children ages 6-10.  We’re not sure what Gernot does…it doesn’t matter…but they were charming and were so interested in what we were doing in Graz.  They immediately invited us to their home.  If they call, I think we shall accept.  Warum nicht? (why not?)

the fence where we spoke with Christina and Gernot

Continuing on our way, we passed many feeding stations for birds, identified a few others (blackbirds, nuthatches, magpies,  some very weird looking crows…)  and areas where the forest was being logged.  We aren’t sure if this is someone’s private logging operation, a municipal job or part of maybe a research forest, as in the Lubrecht Forest in Montana.  I wonder if our German will ever be good enough to translate all the signs? Naturally, we forgot the dictionary, again!

one of the many bird houses and feeding stations along the path

logging operation

description of logging operation (we think)

Down the path we continued, eventually coming to a more residential area.  The numbers of people increased and they all seemed to be headed either to or from a particular point.  We decided to continue on to find out what it was.  The ‘what is was’ turned out to be the Häuserl im Wald, a hotel/restaurant which was far bigger than the ‘hut’ that Häuserl implies.  Extensive terraces, gardens, and a children’s playground were all part of this establishment.  We decided to go in and have a coffee or maybe a beer.

Once again, the food looked and smelled so good that we decided to order.  Again, no dictionary, so we did the best we could with what we know already and were delighted at how it turned out!

 Schweinemedaillons in feiner paprikarahmsauce, mit spätzle (pork medallions in red pepper sauce with SPATZLE!

Bill had something equally delicious–roast beef medallions with an onion sauce and rosti (like little potato pancakes.)  Once again, I brought half of this home!  And here is the best part – we managed to do the whole transaction auf Deutsch!

On our way out, we again scouted the birds at the extensive feeding stations (grosbeaks!) and were surprised to see a horse coming down the road.

more surprises!

We had come maybe 3 km, so we clipped back along our same route at a good pace, stopping only to check out one or two birds and pay respects to the shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Patroness of Impossible Causes, who must have been looking out for us all along!

the shrine of Rita of Cascia

Tomorrow, Vienna.

For now, thanks for reading and…..

Grüß Gott

4 thoughts on “Hopeless Causes and surprises along the way

  1. Jean,
    I hope you publish this in a book someday. Your writing is amazing! Glad you figured out “thewasherisactuallyadryerandviceversa” lash-up. I’m sure that your alternative ‘clothes-decorating-the-kitchen’ method of drying put good, organic humidity in the air to help out any air inversion. How great to meet the people you did- another teacher!
    ~ Betsy

  2. I want to book a flight and come over to be with you. I agree with Betsy about writing a book. As I was reading about Vienna, I thought about the travel books that students from Harvard write every year. You are up there with the best!!!!!!!!

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