So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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The Farmhouse

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I’ve been really trying to get myself back into the swing of things here,despite my doubt over our future here. I must be wholehearted or it will of course fail. So, having missed all the outings of the Trachtenfrauen, I got in contact and joined them for a meeting about the coming up inaugration of our new Mayor. The ceremony is indivivual to Ramingstein, although it echoes the Tamsweg Verein(Club) inauagration, in that there will be a parade and little plays about the life of the Mayor. It will start from his house in Kendlbruck and go on foot to the Gemeinde building in Ramingstein. Apparently, something else unique is a chest which is placed in there for people to post ideas -good and bad.  The theme the group has chosen remains top secret as I write, there will be ten groups and none know what the other is doing!!!

I took off on a wet and windy night with three other ladies right up into an alm farm house in a remote part of the area. The meeting was great, I got my cossy sorted, learnt the song and enjoyed some really good zirben schapps.

This is all a long winded way into what I want to talk about!  The farm was really old, with its own Troad kasten and we were led into a hall full of boots and coats and a farmy atmosphere. We went into what must be the guest Stuberl, a large room with a Kachelofen and a table with fixed seats around it- I was itching for my camera. On the walls were photos of the family, sewn tablecloths, and the Crucifix, along with solid wooden furniture. A musical, shooting family, I could see from the shields and instruments in the room, And so much clutter, one whole cabinet filled with gifts, and knickknacks just tumbled in on each other. The room had a frieze around the edge and white walls.

It was a mix of old and new, traditional and modern and a living family, just what I would expect from a modern farming family. Having only ever been in the farm museums, it was a real insight. Outside was a bit too tidy for an old farm -the yard outside was grassed rather than mud and the buildings all mended and looked after. I was also a bit jealous. But here am I after seven years here, still being amazed at my experiences, as an outside and it always being a bit new -hope it lasts. What also strong me was the longevetity, the family living there all their lives, the constancy, and to me I feel that so restrictive- all that time in one place, not for me!

And it was a bizarre time, here was I in an old farmhouse half way up a mountain in the pouring rain, sipping schnapps and singing songs and dancing with twenty odd women dressed in various stages of costumes as…..tell you later!

 


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Out with the girls…….

I’d made one outing with the Trachtenfrauen as I’ve detailed but really wasn’t too happy with my Dirndl and the ceremony.  So I waited until the Swapmeet in September where second-hand outfits are for sale.  I was there for nearly three hours struggling into different dirndls. I found one genuine Lungau but it was 250 euros, not quite my budget!  In the end I settled for one with a red bodice for 60 Euros, not the real Lungau one with black decoration but one that is a fairly common design. I even lashed out on a jacket, which was a wise move as the next outing was cold and windy.

This was the 20th party for the Ramingstein Samson, there wasn’t a lot of marching but all the Lungau Samsons were there and had a dance. There was the usual men of the village fighting for the microphone and blithering on, then we went to the local pub, where the schnapps and beer began to flow. I tried to buy a round, honestly, but never got a chance! It was a great time to chat and get a bit wobbly. I also found out that our group is only two years old – hey a new tradition!

The next outing was Harvest festival, and they had the cannon out again, shredding my nerves.  We had a service in the church, with gifts taken to the altar, and another march around the village and back to the church.  The Priest again carrying the Monstrance right in front of his nose.  Then back to the Pub garden and more microphone snatching.  It was nice that as part of the festival, all those who had round Wedding anniversaries were remembered. Trouble is, Austria has been hit by the Data protection idiocy and may not be allowed to reveal these highly personal details in the future.

Julie Andrews eat your heart out!

We then had the David and Goliath fight played for us.  As far as I can see, this is to encourage people that the little man can win.  They must have had the same lad for several years but he had grown and was as big as Goliath.  We all fell about laughing when he completely missed Goliath with his  Bommyknocker and shouted ‘Scheiss’ forgetting his microphone!

Then the Volkstanzgruppe had a dance, similar to our Maypole dance.  Another great event, Dave took loads of photos which I sent to the secretary who was thrilled as it’s not often there’s a shot of everyone together as she takes the piccies. Our next outing will be Icestockshiessen in January.  Maybe Dave will join the group as photographer, but he’ll have to wear a dirndl!


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Frohnleichnam or the Feast of Corpus Christi

Sometimes, I just don’t think things through properly. I’ve been so wanting to get to know people and mix in and thought the Trachtenfrauen was a good group to join.  They were great, even finding me a Dirndl that I can wear until September when there’s a big swop meet and I can get a traditional one.  All the week before the first outing, I guess I was freaking out a bit about wearing this thing in public – I am surgically attached to trousers, having fat legs and am life-long tom boy!   I even kept it secret from Dave so I didn’t have to put it on for him to see it beforehand, what a twit I am!!!!!

The day before, I thought, lets see what this festival is all about.  As I read, my heart sank.  It’s only about one of the main theological differences between Catholics and Protestants, what the dickens am I doing associating  myself with all this?  I’m on the local church PCC,  and I just cannot agree with this festival. It’s not even biblical, some saint wanted to celebrate the event of the first communion being made, and with all the fuss of Easter and Pentecost, asked the local Bishop who agreed to a Mass and Procession. When this Saint died, another asked for it to be extended to all the Catholic church and so it was.  It involves the Priest under a canopy trotting around the village to set points, holding a Monstrance with a host in front of his face.  I don’t think he can see where he’s going at all.  Being Austria, they also shoot the cannon as the priest prays.  Each station has a set reading from the gospels.  They also cart a statue of the Virgin Mary along, which is completely silly -she wasnt even there!  Linda told me earlier it had to be carried by Virgins who had to wear a special outfit…………

I was in a right state by the evening before, and went to Linda for advice.  Quite sanely, she said the group has helped you get the kit, you’ve said you’ll go and you must try it.  Test how you feel and what God is saying to you.  She is right, my neighbour in the group knows I’m Protestant. It was the right decision, so the next morning at 7.30, I was ready to go……….


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Joining the Trachtenfrauen

Some of the group with the Mayor at the Volkskultur fest

I’d been thinking of doing this for a while, but the thought of entering a room of strangers is daunting, and so had left it.  So when Romana said do come, I felt, well, I’m up for it.  It will involve in turning out for church parades as well as festivals, but I don’t have any real problems with something that is a Christian, although I’m not sure about the one carrying the statue of Mary.

It seems I must be part Austrian because everything I’ve been invited too,people come earlier than said, which is something Dave has moaned at me about for years.  So we dashed off to the local pub where the group now has a special room (the non smoker) for their own, and I found there were only two smokers in the group, unusual for here.  I was introduced to people as they arrived and we sat and I found I was at the AGM.  The group leader is an Austrian Dawn French (old figure) and just as articulate.  It seems a lot of time is found getting sponsors, and to this effect they were giving out old fashioned umbrellas, in black with frills around, I asked if they were for fighting with when there was a problem!  No they just carry them as of course, it never rains in Austria!   There was then a heated discussion on the order that they were to march, behind the Fire brigade or after the Kameradshaft, (men’s group), it all resulted in phoning a friend but I dare say the discussion goes on.  We were then told there is cash in the kitty and that was it – I like that sort of AGM.  I was shown the patterns for the costume, there being a huge difference between the black festival costume and the standard Tracht (not called a dirndl), set colours of bodice (green or red) and so on.  I’d missed the recent ‘Tauschborse’ or swap meet, but everyone reckons you can get a whole outfit quite cheaply there(after my own heart!).  The next one is in April, just in time for the marching season. I was told I could also make one but the thought of a blood stained outfit after I’d impaled myself of needles and pins doesnt appeal! The main problem is that people are larger now, in all dimensions and there’s only so much alteration you can do.  The festival black hat with band is much sought after, but very expensive.

I’d been sitting a bit like a lemon, and realised that I needed to make a step, so I went and paid my subs and was welcomed into the fold – I suppose until you do this, you’re just not in. No one voiced a problem with me being a foreigner.  I was then invited to sit with Dawn’s group and had the usual, why the Lungau chat and when I looked at the clock, it was gone twelve.  The remaining people began to pack up and go, so I rejoined Romana and we sailed out, completely missing the door and going into the larger bar, where schnapps was poured!  I was a bit embarrassed as I couldnt afford a round – I’ll repay that next time.  So I arrived home a tad merry at One o’clock, definitely not what I expected. The next meeting is for Icestockshiessen (ice skittles) in January.  I get the impression that the group is just an undercover excuse for socializing – following the parades there’s often a meal and after all the men have many groups as excuses to dress up, march about then hit the beer, it’s after all a very Teutonic thing, especially as certain uniforms are banned, so why not the girls too?!