Wintry Vineyards

On this eleventh of January, when I felt much better getting up early in the morning, I was curious to see how the fickle weather behaved. My spouse in good mood with a positive mind sparked in me renewed energies, I had feared to have lost at the beginning of this New Year. I felt good at our common breakfast. B had served fresh smoked salmon and I was boiling two eggs. She offered me a lactose-free roll (new to me, but delicious) still reasonably fresh although bought yesterday afternoon. I peeled a blood orange, and this time it was throughout coloured purple-red, not like the other day when it had a lighter top. We had joked about bloodletting.

Lately she made also an effort to share food with me at the breakfast table in the bedsitter. Something we had not before engaged in, as we had ongoing arguments which ended in domestic fights. So we avoided to do things together, like breakfast, lunch or coffee house visits. B went to town and enjoyed meeting friends, which was beneficial for me as well, having accepted the call of a friend for helping him with administrative chores.

The sun came out as I pulled the Venetian blinds upward and fixed the strings on the window frame. The sunrays had coloured the opposite façade of the building with a layer of a pale yellow. B said: ‘Maybe you’ll go for a walk, while I go to town’. I was surprised at her proposal, as she had complained that I had little time for her, either sitting at my laptop or exercising my Nordic Walking technique around the Viennese Woods. ‘OK’, I replied ‘I might as well try my first walk today, since having been infected with a bad cough a month ago’.

I left my laptop with the search I had done for my novel: Acropolis and started to prepare my thermos flask for hot tea. Until the still mineral water would start to boil, I prepared a roll with a few slices of salami. Then I looked for my rucksack and checked its contents. I found my walking gear in the cupboard next to the entrance door. Then, as B was finished in the bathroom, I washed myself and then started dressing. With the hot tea prepared, I filled the thermos flask and placed it into my rucksack, next to my lunch roll. I donned my walking pants and tops and slipped into my Fila trekking shoes. Adjusting the telescopic walking sticks to suit my arm height, I took my sports gloves and my woolen cap, sunglasses and adjusted them to suit me. Then I unlocked the entrance door and left.

Halfway down the village, I disliked the icy wind cutting through my walking garb. I stopped at a bench and took wind and rain resistant over pants and a windbreaker and soon I felt much better equipped to cut out the frosty gusts of wind. I still wondered how I would fare after an involuntary pause taking up Nordic Walking again. ‘Never mind!’ my inner voice shouted down my censuring right side of my brain: ‘Just do it!’ Hah, I smiled, the Nike logo in action. My feet warm in my lined trekking shoes, my neck well covered with the windbreaker I could zip right up, Walking became an instant pleasure. Where to go? Kahlenberg? No, I will avoid the woods and rather walk in the areas warmed by sunshine.

Next door to the baroque Weidling church a path with a hundred steps leads up to a road. Taking a turn right will lead past the Heurigen Trat-Wiesner to a path up through the vineyards to another secondary road that advertises the Klosterneuburger wine-route. Indeed great, as I knew this one from walks during the warmer seasons. However, one could chose to walk off this road and enjoy the paths between the dormant vines and the snow covered meadows and meander ones direction toward the well-known Weinberggasse, which ends at the monument of the ‘Schwarzes Kreuz’ (Black Cross).

It has been indeed a great walk on the soft snow that lay on the meadows. I stopped to take some snapshots of the Klosterneuburger Cathedral with its twin towers with distinct black painted and pointing roofs, toward the north. Turning into the sun coming free from two banks of cloudbanks, I took some photographs of the wintry landscapes with the cut back dormant vines looking like frozen cobras against the white background. The wintry sun caused lines of their shadows in a geometrical pattern. The cloud formations shaped like figures at times and their edges toward the sun were lined in a fuzzy line, like thrills on a woman’s dress, painted by an artist, by artist nature. A wonderful theme for a modern landscape painter, or even for an abstract canvas. As I observed the fascinating natural canvas, I was not noticing the end of the road between the vineyards. Suddenly the ground was pulled beneath my feet and I fell hard onto my back, but the rucksack had saved me hitting the ground harder. Yet I had felt a slight sharp concussion at my ribs and my lungs hurt, as if squashed together. I turned to my side and rolled on to safer ground. Then, as I opened my rucksack I noticed that the outer skin of my thermal flask had been squashed as I fell on it. Well, I was getting again air into my lungs and could take up my walk again. The warmer air the days before had melted the snow and glazing the transitional part between field path and the start of an asphalt road. Yesterday night it froze up again. I have to be more careful and vigilant, I said to myself.

I continued down the slope toward the lower lying Weingartengasse within easy reach through a ramped path used by the wanderer in the know. It exited exactly opposite the flats that were renovated and where I had seen a yellow painted crane moving building materials to the roof. Just as I attached rubber tips to my walking sticks, I received a phone call from my friend Mr T. He had a few questions and he had to tell me that he could not sleep well last night. Indeed, as he was under the influence of atmospheric pressures, I was in the know how that felt. My spouse was suffering similarly and could only sleep a few hours to such changes in the weather.

Having affixed the rubber tips to my sticks, I turned right toward the monument. After a hundred meters I arrived at the Black Cross and took a break. The panoramic view was spectacular in the clean winter air and one could see the southeastern mountains as a long stretched blue band with some peaks, probably the ‘Rax’ and ‘Schneeberg’, where the excellent Vienna water came from. I was thrilled catching such a wondrous atmosphere today. To the right side the dark mountains of Leopoldsberg and Kahlenberg, which played an important part in the last decisive battle against the invading Turks.

I retrieved my thermos flask and my roll. Before I unpacked the roll a young dog stood suddenly next to me eyeing me. ‘You don’t look hungry to me, but probably have a healthy appetite?’ I addressed the dog. ‘Yes, he has always an appetite’, I heard the voice of a young woman who commanded her dog to follow her. I had to smile recalling our dog, Francois, a French poodle with exceptional intelligence and a talented jumper, with a knack to catch a tennis ball thrown towards him. I just called out: ‘Catch Francois!’ as I threw a tennis ball towards him, which he would catch with immediate precision. The friends of our tennis round in Johannesburg tired out to throw him tennis balls, but Francois never tired out catching them all. I ate my roll and sipped hot green tea from my thermos flask. It all tasted so good in the open air. Two women arrived, the one with an old dog and started chatting.

I walked in solid strides downhill the Franz Kober-Weg. The snow had melted here in the lower areas. Forgotten the slip and fall onto my back at the sloping road before I left the ice covered road at the first part of my return walk. Down at the so called Rotes Kreuz (The Red Cross), I turned left and followed the Weidlingbach along a path, called Pius Parsch-Promenade ending at Agnesbrücke (Agnes Bridge). At the bakery Dacho I bought half a loaf of bread and having packed it in my rucksack, I went to the nearby bank and obtained some cash for my spouse, having promised her to pay towards a perfume she wanted to buy. With the bus station nearby and the timing right, I had ample time left to catch the bus 401 home. To my surprise the bus was filled with school children. It was after two pm and I had been over two hours walking in a bigger circle around the vineyards of Klosterneuburg-Weidling. At home I had a hot shower, slipped into my bathrobe and rested on my bed, enjoying the slideshow of the wintry landscape: my fall on the iced road, the doggy sniffing at my lunch, the quaint atmosphere dramatized with an expressive cloud formation, the wintry sun casting long shadows in the snow, but most of all the freedom of walking through the vineyards, and the good physical feeling Nordic Walking provides.