A Pre-Spring Walk

During the sudden friendly and warmer pre-spring weather I could hardly wait to test my fitness level along an already familiar walk in the Viennese Woods. In between the longer, recommended walking trails by the City of Vienna’s publications at their public relations offices in the ‘Rathaus’, I began taking up the task with my regular walk up the ‘Johann Grünberger-Weg’ starting from Weidling. This walk starts a short distance from our flat. Not yet used to getting up early, it thus saves also time to travel otherwise by public transport to one of the recommended trails around Vienna.

It’s still a late winter atmosphere. The trees appear dark, even black against the weak sunlight in the woods, north-east, as one walks up along a well laid out trail toward an open area, a clearing for storing of cut trees worked to equal sized logs by woodcutters. For me this landmark means that I have reached half way to my first stop at the ‘Brünnlwirt’, where I have to change directions, a pub with a huge terrace at the ‘Jägerwiese’.

The second part uphill I have divided into two sections. The first one ends for me at a tree felled by a lightning strike, where the going is somewhat bearable, as I am looking out for the more even part of the trail, where the lighter horizon announces the level walk at ‘Jägerwiese’. Through the trees the pub becomes visible. My lungs have been cleared and the first ‘baptism by fire’ has been achieved. My lungs have recovered from a bad cough during winter. I’m impatient for the first warm spring sun to rid the last bit of phlegm that is till apparent.

The colours of the Viennese Woods are stunning in these last weeks leading up to the start of spring: The black boles of the high grown trees in the foreground contrast with the thinner boles of the younger trees in the reforestation areas. The fine branches intermingle and look tangled from a distance, as if drawn by a master of the Graphic arts. The stark shadows from a low sun that is still weak, run across dead leaves on the ground like abstract decorations. All this against a pale white-blue sky.

As the trail turns, the light changes and the birch trees stand like an elegant light grey alignment of an alley along the road through the woods. In perspective light and shadow on the trees behind the frontage are in a stark expression of 3D, HD. The sky has now a more saturated light blue colour and the horizon is well-defined like the road ahead, with shadows forming stripes across the way, disappearing in straight perspective like steps of a ladder, and stretching ones’ perspective views. The trail from Jägerwiese has taken me down and along ‘Waldesruh’, to the trail below the ‘Höhenstrasse’ and down all the way beside the ‘Wildgrube’ with the ‘Schreiberbach’ running parallel, a scenic route to Nußdorf. Indeed!

I stop at times taking photographs. The view to the North shows the red-white striped ‘Sendemast’ on the Kahlenberg, a steel mast equipped for transmissions and broadcasts. As the eye slides across the umbra-coloured stretch of wintry woods toward the Kahlenberg hotel, its sleek white define floors define a minimalistic architectural approach. In the foreground the slumbering vineyards with its vertical supporting steel posts at the start of the rows, where strung wires carry the growing vines. It’s an amazing sight. Zooming into the Kahlenberg shows the university building between the comm’s tower and the hotel, where the sun is reflected in the strips of glazing. The roof of the Kahlenberg church tower lies behind with its oxidized emerald appearance. The neat rows of the cultivated vines are prepared for the next season. In a month’s time the fast growing sap-green leaves will appear again, changing the look of the landscape to a lush lime-green freshness. The cycle of life will start to turn and nature’s giant wheel of the returning seasons will once again hold us in its magical ban.

Coming down the ‘Wildgruben’-trail passed the Embassy of the Chinese Republic, an unusual view nearby hits my eye. A Buddhist fashioned temple garden of serenity opens up. I stop and let my eyes wander across the little temples, niches for sculptures and decorations, which are placed along a laid out garden. The artist lives here in a two storey tree-house. The entrance to the garden is over a footbridge crossing the brook. The access ways are framed by stones, sculptures, seating, and colourful objects. Below in the regulated Schreiberbach that flows between the garden and the road, the artist has established a prayer mill with its drum turning to the flow of water that is directed across metal fins.

Besides the tranquil atmosphere, living close to nature and in a well-designed amber coloured wooden house on two floors, whose boxy shape has been placed skillfully between three boles of trees, and it is well integrated into the overall place of the prayer garden. The artist has obviously focused the perspective of his life toward buddhistic philosophies. A notice board is affixed on a tree next to the entrance. It talks about the Mantra: OM MANI PEME HUNG, in Tibetan language. In Sanskrit, as we may have read in books: O MANI PADME HUN, mostly spoken in the Himalaya region, where one way see these prayer setups everywhere, also cut into stone and on all prayer mills, like this one here that turns permanently driven through the brook. Prayer mills are an important part of Tibetan Buddhism, as by the clockwise turn of a prayer mill one wishes every time all creatures all the best. Then the written manifest explains the quality of the perfection of the prayer words and its colours. It talks about the Stupa, an ancient archetypical symbol for the verified and awakened spirit, the enlightenment as the highest aim in Buddhism. I note down the Email of the artist.

Next door, a bit further down, a keen gardener and rose breeder has named his rosebushes after famous people, like Romy Schneider: “Ein Kind von Grinzing”, besides of Alain Delon and some leaders of the Catholic Church, who all visited here. Further down I walk down through the Beethoven Park and take the D-tramway to Nußdorf train station. The walking has made me very thirsty and I remembered that at the Square in Nußdorf I had visited a few times a pub, called ‘Shakes’, where I enjoyed a well cooled beer. Yes, I recall the name ‘Murauer’. As I enter, two people decorate the pub with colourful garlands. ‘It’s for the carnival feast for tonight’, the man said, ‘we are actually closed’. My thirst had just taken another painful leap up. ‘I came especially to your place, because you have Murauer beer’, I reply. ‘Do you know another place around here serving that brand?’ He looks at me, directs his voluptuous female assistant to hang another garland. Then he turns to me. ‘OK’, he quips, ‘if one likes the beer, I guess it’s a certain taste’. ‘Indeed’, I continue to build a case for serving me a beer. ‘Small or large draft?’ his tattooed hand takes a large beer glass, like Murauer serves. Mhh! my taste buds stage already a revolt in my mouth and they dry me out for good. He places a perfectly filled glass on the bar counter. I thank him, pay and gaze at his tee shirt with a Harley Davison motorcycle on it. ‘Are you into bikes?’ I take a large first gulp of the beer, I have imagined for the last hour. ‘Gosh, it tastes heavenly!’ I gasp. ‘Yes’, he says, I have one glass every late morning. The taste lingers on’. ‘Yes’, I agree with him, ‘there is a sort of slightly tanginess pervading the gums.’ ‘That’s poetic’, he states, are you writing?’ ‘Yes, I do. He is busying himself with the décor again. By the time he is needing the space at the bar to place his ladder, I have drunk my beer already, this ‘champagne of beers’, as I call it. I thank him and leave. A bus arrives soon after I have reached the station across the Square. I am well-balanced by now, floating in body that takes the mind for a spin.