Through a ravine, a path formed by rainwater and hundreds of years of use by
wagons and people, I walked by vineyards and apricot orchards to the city of
Mautern. In the vineyards, the dandelions started to turn into seeds. The wind was
blowing the cherry blossoms to the ground and it started to rain.
The view from the village of Rossatz to Dürnstein was gorgeous. Before I continued
my hike, I watched the festival for St. Florian, the patron saint of the firemen. The
local wind ensemble marched together with women wearing Dirndl and Goldhaube
(national costume with golden hat) through the village and then to the church.
A sweet smell of lilac and other spring flowers filled the space of the little church in
Hofarnsdorf. The decoration was done for the Maiandacht, a celebration in honor of
Virgin Mary. It reminded me of my childhood, when we village children brought the
most beautiful flowers from our gardens in order to make the chapel for the May
devotion as beautiful as possible.
From the Carthusian monastery Aggsbach, I walked up into the area of the
Dunkelsteinerwald (dark stone wood). It is a huge forest area where one can get lost.
In the meadows and along the trail, lots of different plants were growing.
I remembered my grandmother explaining the plants to us when we went for a walk
Leaving the town of Melk, the path took me over meadows, fields and forests down
to the Danube. Heavy fortification walls protected the castle of Schönbühel.
I have always loved this place. In the distance, dark clouds were approaching.
Slowly, it started to rain.
In Emmersdorf, I met my high school friend Heidi. It was pure coincidence.
She took part in the village festival of the 1st of May celebration. At this festival,
a May tree was erected on the village square by the local fire department. The local
wind ensemble (Blasmusik) was playing folks music. The women of the village wore
the traditional Dirndl, which is the national costume of the area. In the past, young
men tried to climb up the slippery barkless tree in order to touch the wreath and win
a prize. Fire departments and the Blasmusik (like marching band in the US) are
community building institutions. Nearly all young men are part of at least of one of
these groups. Women also join now and even children are admitted.