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.
Heidi hiked with me to the city of Melk, where we met her friend Andrea. In the
monastery garden, Andrea created an herb garden according to the writings of the
medieval herbalist Walahfrid Strabo. She explained the garden to us. The monastery
in Melk is famous for its incredible library, the imperial rooms and the church.
The herb garden consisted of 22 little sections, each with its own theme. In former
times, monasteries were famous for their sophisticated herb gardens.