Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring in the Ennstal

Spring is trying so hard to break out in the Ennstal. Now I know why the Austrians paint their houses every color of the rainbow: pastel blue, pink, green, lavender, and every shade of yellow. It’s because winter drags on here for six months, and the landscape is otherwise a virtually colorless blend of white snow, gray cobblestones, granite outcroppings and barely green evergreens.

The other six months of the year, the Austrians decorate with flowers and they can hardly wait for spring to come. I admit, I’ve been suffering a bit from the lack of color, and was delighted when the first crocuses and snowdrops began to appear in mid-March. At the beginning of April we had rain and a few warm days and the world turned green seemingly overnight. Now all of the spring flowers from my childhood are in bloom, those that I’ve missed living in Louisiana for the past eight years. The entire spectrum is represented by red tulips, bleeding hearts, orange ranunculus, forsythia and daffodils, grape hyacinth and violets. Just this week the bridal’s wreath started blooming, and I know that means lilacs can’t be far behind!

The most uncommonly beautiful sight of the moment is the wide expanse of green fields dotted with dandelions against a backdrop of snowcapped peaks. You don’t see that in Louisiana!
At some mountain resorts you can still go skiing, but in the valleys we’re sunbathing and having grill parties. This weekend is May Day, when most of the world celebrates Labor Day. This evening I attended the raising of the May pole.
We have the day off tomorrow and I’m told that Irdning has one of the most famous May Day celebrations in Steiermark. But I’m going to give the beer tent a miss and escape to Vienna. I haven’t been there since early February, and I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, window shopping, and taking in a museum or two.

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