So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria, God and life, teaching and gardening plus the occasional cow

Der Lungau, Four years along – Autumn

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Autumn with the turning of the stunning sycamores followed by the larches, often seems to be wonderfully warm weather – especially around the time of National day.  When unashamedly flags are on buildings and people celebrate. There also seems to be a time in late August when you’re suddenly aware of a change in the air, its a coolness  and a yellowing of the light, to me that’s the start of the fruitful part of autumn.  We go regularly in the summer to the MariaPfarr church for ‘Holiday maker’ services.  in here the windows aren’t stained, the light is wonderful flowing onto the flower decked altar, and its here I’ve often first noticed the autumn light change. In autumn its cooler to walk and a completely different vista to the summer mountains.    There is the new festival of Bauernherbst here, in an attempt to get farm produce sold. There are scarecrows all over the valley and more beer, music and sausage to go with it!  Then as all gets colder, a lot of the people running Hotels take themselves off for a holiday somewhere warm.

The end of the year really seems to be coming when there is the Sheep gathering at Goriach.  There is a small village at the end of this valley and to here the sheep are brought down from the mountains, sold and taken home, a real party in Lungau style.

Goriach

Early winter can be drab and dull but as I’ve blogged it has its own charms – along with the return of Dave’s seasonal bronchitis!  There’s the last riding festival, the St Leonhardiritt in Tamsweg.  This was cancelled for a couple of years firstly I heard because of the bills and moaning about cleaning up the streets, and then the guy who runs it had a major fire at his stables and didn’t quite have the time.  It was back last year with a ride up to the Pilgrimage church of St Leonhard’s  and then back. Earlier they had  just gone into the carpark at the edge of the town and then had games, but this time it was quite rightly judged that this was too much after the ride to the church.

Waiting for the blessing at St Leonhardiritt

All Saints and Souls is really celebrated, with the graveyards decked with dry flower arrangements, from heathers and dried plants. There’s a  big visiting of families, graves and a special currant bread is baked to share.  Another time of stress for the Garden centre!

Then we have to change the car tyres ready for the snow.  I hate it when it comes too early, love it at the right time, though I must say, I didn’t make a snow man this year – maybe I’m growing up!  Kasiermandel comes in November, its another wonderful local custom.  Then comes St Nicholaus and Grampus in December with these evil devils trying to thwart St Nick, they never win, but its another excuse for a booze up and a parade – often held behind security railings to stop people being beaten up and injured.  It really is as if the devil is in the air.

The  far less commercial Christmas approaches, with home baked wonderful biccies everywhere we visit, and not a single mince pie. Advent crowns are BIG here, but with only four candles for each Sunday before Christmas.  Last year I attended a lovely service with folk Christmas songs as they blessed the crowns I didn’t really see why they needed to unless its because as I’ve found by the Christmas the first candle has started to burn through the wreath and therefore the table and so on!  The Christ child comes on Christmas eve, in a country where the Christ still is in Christmas, and its a time for me to see my kids.

A very Catholic area, but always something to look forward to on the horizon.  As I’ve said before, we’ve lost so much in England with our Protestant heritage. Among these festivals are concerts from the schools and brass bands, and modern plays and exhibitions.  a busy land. And we’re famous, it was here in Mariapfarr that Silent Night was written and in Obertauern (ok not quite Lungau) that Help was filmed by the Beatles.

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