September 5-6 & 9-11, 2000
I met Clemens in Innsbruck as planned, under the famous golden roof and onto the train we went to his home of Brixlegg. I arrived to find my own room in a 500 year old house modernized with extended plumbing, electricity, oil heat, telephone & ISDN Internet access, but most welcoming was Mrs. A. And this was a magic moment for me, although she never knew it.
"So this is Daniel Bachmann! Welcome to our home." This was more than an enthusiastic welcome: it was the last thing on the list of what I was told I would not find on my travels. "What do you expect? That you can find special places? That strangers will want to talk to you? Blah, blah, blah... That someone will say, 'Daniel Bachmann is coming to town!? Welcome to our home!' No, I didn't have expectations as such, but all of my positive aspirations for the year have come to realization. As of this moment, all of the negative ramblings were twisted around 180 degrees to positives down to the very word.
I stood quiet not knowing how to respond but with a shy smile, whispered thank you and tickle of dying demon.
Wood heating ovens still function here in the winter and evidence of the town's history, splash out from the river across the road and to the base of the hills. For Clemens and Elizabeth, childhood castles were real ruins on the mountain side. "But a castle is something secret and safe, that is hidden away, so we made our own in the bushes," Clemens explained. Some youthful memories are the same across the boarders, and this one, probably anywhere a bush grows large enough to crawl under.
I still never met Elizabeth. She's still traveling in the USA and landed a job there. We seem to be mirror images on each side of the ocean. I saw her bedroom door, a closed shrine to the daughter that has been gone since March.
For the second part of my Brixlegg stay, I headed for the hills. Actually, the mountains. Set off towards an Alpine mountain hut, I carried a flyer about the great Uncle of the family, a famous Austrian mountain climber, who started on these hills and passed away 10 years ago. A presentation in his honor was scheduled in the town next weekend.
It was a scenic hike, to say the least, past the cliff face and through the clanking heard of curious bulls. Yodel? Why not, these are this is the mountain range from the Sound of Music. If you can imagine the beauty up here during the day, at night it was whole new splendor. From the hut a hint of rolling fog gives depth perception over the mountains. Along the river the town lights shimmer in the escaping heat making twinkling stars on the low grounded earth. Water whispers its gurgle through the pines while jokes in German, laughter and foreign babble claim this corner of the vista to the mountaineers.