So where's the snow?

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

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Changing Lungau

We’re in our 12th summer here, and I’m still bowled over by living here, but I was suddenly aware of how it’s changed. There has been a cycle on the snow with poor years and rich years, the long term view on this I’m yet to see. The summers are definately warmer, but maybe that’s worse because with the business, being out grass cutting I can’t avoid it!When we first came here, we never heard a lot of grasshoppers (Heuschreckers- hay scarers), except when we  went over 30 km towards Murau and the low lands. In the past two years, they’ve worked their way up this valley, and now when I go through the fields, there’s the constant song, making me feel we’re getting Mediterranean. Of course there is the Prangtag at Zederhaus which celebrates God delivering them from a plague of locusts, not quite the same thing, but maybe we will be invaded!The bird population is changing too, I now hear Pigeons in the woods, and in the St Margarethen valley, I’ve seen a small flock of them, even in the winter. I wonder how they will affect the crops and population balance? The Fieldfares arrived about 5 years ago when there was a bumper crop of vogelberries, and they’ve stayed. I’ve also seen Magpies, which I’ve only seen once before here. There have even been sightings of Storks stopping on their way through, but no nests like in Germany!And the people? Definitely more foreign voices in the shops, and its not just that I can distinguish them now.  We have more supermarkets, and this is why we’ve given up growing veggies, not just the lack of time but also that we can now buy parsnips and sweetcorn. There’s a wider range of visitors here too. We never used to see French or Belgian cars, but they’re quite common now. Never seen a Spanish one!  Lungau is beginning to be more popular now that the Tourist boards have been dragged out of the dark ages. There are more events in the summer, but a singular lack of imagination, there’s only so often you can be thrilled by seeing a Samson dance, hear a brass band, drink beer and eat a frankfurter and semmel. But maybe that’s just me!There is a movement to promote Lungau foods and cookery. There are more potatoes being grown in the soil which is perfect for them. It used to be that thy were free from the blight, but that’s not so much as the temperatures in winter are warmer and don’t kill all the bugs. But the Lungau Eachtling is being promoted as something special.Some of the huts such as the Ludlalm on Preber have been rebuilt losing something of the traditIon, big plates, small portions and high prices.  Weisspriach, one of the most beautiful areas has had new car parks added after it won a national prize. People say to me that the tourists are wanted as they bring work into an area with little for the younger folks, but how long until the area gets ruined by the influx?

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A morning’s walk

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One of the best parts of my day, especially at this time of the year, is the morning walk with Swingle. Before I have to get on with guest changeovers or more decorating (this summers job), we have an hour of freedom. The weather has suddenly turned cold and showery after the heat, we had some terrific thunderstorms too. Today, we walked along the Mur at St Margarethen, one of the best walks as there is a big stretch with no bikes, fields to run in (well not me), and a profusion of flowers.

This wet summer has made a change in the plants. Suddenly, there is Baldrian all along the rivers and wild Astilbe is in the damp ditches in this, the flatest, part of Lungua which in glacial times was probably a big lake.  Although it was windy, and I though t we might get soaked, Swingle burnt around like a nutter, enjoying the cool. As a black dog she absorbs the heat, and is at happiest where she can jump in and out of a river. She jumped in anyway despite the cool weather and she ran like a greyhound in the long grass.

Things do seem to be changing here, especially in the bird population. I saw several of the Fieldfares who made their home here after the glut of Vogelberries a few years ago, and I saw a Pigeon, who are starting to move into the area- another thing for the hunters to blast away at! I saw also one of the Merlins swoop across our path, there are a lot of these around this part of the valley.

Some of the crops caught my interest too. This farmer had planted barley, but its been overtaken by the sedge grasses coming from the ditches-  I guess this area was once a moorish bog – there is still an area nearer to Moosham. Then this one has planted pure clover, an incredibly rich crop, I wonder who will be chomping on this in the winter??  Campion was growing out through it.

Swingle did a little hunting, but soon it was time to turn home to collect the laptop which has had the computer equivalent of rabies, but hopefully is now better, and time to so some blogging, with a cup of coffee and a snoozing dog.