Forum Holitorium

A Jazzberry Kind of Day

Regular readers may wonder whatever happened to Pinguini. I do too. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve heard that crow with the distinctive croak, including one week of nearly constant rain. It being Vienna and fall, there is also plenty of wind. Where the crows have been hanging out and sheltering from the elements, I don’t know. Yesterday afternoon, there was a raucous gathering in the trees outside. There appeared to be a fight between a few black crows. Something was up. At first, KA and I wondered if the rooks had returned and the crows weren’t happy about it. No, these were all hooded and carrion crows. The altercation and excitement lasted five to ten minutes, then they all flew away. Is that Pinguini alone there in the tree?

Today was another good birdwatching day. On my way back from the greengrocer’s, I took a different route to stay on the sunny side of the street. To my amazement, I ended up face to face with a Eurasian jay. Perched on a fence, it didn’t seem fazed by my presence. Garrulus glandarius are normally very shy of people and more common in rural settings, but this one was apparently used to pedestrians. It flew across the street onto a bush and was promptly joined by another jay. I have never been that close to a jay before and was surprised at how large they are. Bigger than their American blue jay cousins, they are nearly the size of magpies or rooks.

Darker than blue jay blue is my navy jacket. The first sleeve is starting to take shape. The pattern calls for a perpendicular join. Isn’t that a great name? It could be a dance (do the perpendicular join), a surgical technique, a military maneuver, a woodworking trick, a geometrical theorem. The combination of a five syllable word with a one syllable word gives it a jazzy rhythm. Which leads me to jazzberry. I couldn’t resist starting on a new project with some of the alpaca yarn I received as a gift. I have been thinking how there are many terms for colors that are a mix of red and violet: mauve, magenta, maroon, burgundy, eggplant. Searching for a word to describe the color of this yarn, I came across the color “Jazzberry Jam,” which is apparently a Crayola crayon color.

I have no idea if jazzberry has another meaning (leave a comment if you know of one), but now I have a name for my next cardigan. I don’t care if I can eat a jazzberry or not – these days I’m perfectly content to nibble on dried apple rings and roasted chestnuts, two autumn culinary delights. KA is my personal in-house chestnut roaster. We’ve had two different batches of Italian chestnuts and now these beauties: a French variety, Bouche de Bétizac.

When I was working on my master’s degree in France, I spent time in the Ardèche, the department that produces half of all chestnuts grown in France. Benedictine monks planted the first chestnut trees there in the ninth century. It’s the French equivalent of the Garfagnana region in Tuscany, which is known for its chestnut flour. Chestnuts are one of my favorite foods. Eating them, I feel a link back to my Tuscan ancestors. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t had access to the nutritious fruit of the Castanea sativa tree.

May you discover a new color and enjoy a favorite autumn food!

The Changing of the Color Guard

It’s really fall now: The switch from spring and summer to fall and winter clothing is mostly complete. Gone until spring are mustard and sage; back in the rotation are burgundy, plum, charcoal, and black. Blue, red, and off-white remain. About two years ago I became obsessed with the idea of defining a color palette for my wardrobe. I spent lots of time thinking about the colors of favorite clothes I have worn over the years, the colors I constantly found myself drawn to, the colors I looked good in, the colors I love but that don’t really make me come alive. Part of me judged this behavior as superficial and frivolous, part of me found this incredibly important and entirely appropriate for a textile artist. Ah, the irony: My wardrobe has become mostly harmonious at a time when there are fewer and fewer opportunities to go out and wear anything beyond loungewear. I guess now I can start working on replacing old, fraying loungewear with pieces in the colors of my palette. Not shown in the picture are the handful of dress up clothes I still have. They are mostly dark magenta, a color that looks good on me that I usually find too loud for everyday wear. The more grey the shade of a color contains, the more comfortable I feel wearing it. (That said, it has been so grey and rainy that I intentionally wore a magenta top at home this week to brighten things up!)

The basket full of knitted hats, scarves, and mitts has also been emptied and assessed. There is a fourth beret (chocolate brown Álafoss Lopi) hanging next to the door. All of these berets will match the navy jacket, which continues to grow. Today’s goal is to complete the collar. This morning the rain stopped and the sun came out for the first time since Saturday. I set off on foot for the yarn store, where I hoped to find silver buttons that fit the buttonholes I knit yesterday. At the end of my 30 minute walk, I was disappointed to find a sign on the door saying that the store is closed until November. The reason? Renovations to comply with COVID regulations and time to stock winter yarns. I assume the next time I go there, the cash register will be protected by a plexiglass shield. This was disappointing on two counts: The store had buttons I liked, plus my goal is to have this jacket finished by my birthday…which is before November.

What did not disappoint this week was my first apple strudel. Following this recipe (except for the egg glaze), I made the dough with whole grain spelt flour, salt, warm water, and a tablespoon of olive oil. For the filling, I mixed together Boskoop apples, whole wheat bread crumbs, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon. I used Boskoop because they are good for baking. It was much easier to make strudel dough than I had anticipated. Next time I will add more bread crumbs, omit the sugar, and perhaps try a different kind of apple or throw in some ground hazelnuts. Whereas the contour of the apple slices in an Austrian Apfelstrudel remains distinct, the flavorful Boskoops baked down into a tasty mush.

Apple strudel is my favorite Austrian dessert. A classic that is served just about anywhere, it is much less sweet than most traditional Austrian cakes and desserts, which are usually too creamy for my taste as well. Still, apple strudel is normally served with anywhere from a dusting to a blizzard of powdered sugar on top. I scrape it off as best I can. Given all the cake recipes I have shared on this blog, it may sound odd when I say I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but it’s true. My apricot dumpling recipe does not include sugar like most do. As long as fruit is ripe, I find its natural sweetness suffices. Most processed food is laced with sugar, and the more of it you eat, the more your palate begs for sweetness. As you stop eating processed food, it is easier to be satisfied with the natural sweetness of certain foods.

Enjoy your favorite autumn colors and the sweetness of baked apples!

The Unexpected Summit

If you had told me last Wednesday that today I would have reached the summit of a mountain (albeit a low one), I wouldn’t have believed it. My knee was swollen and stiff yet again as it had been numerous times off and on since early spring. An appointment with a strangely irate orthopedist in February yielded no diagnosis. I was told to move the joint as much as possible – difficult when fluid hinders movement. Then came the stay at home order, and over the months that followed I simply got used to a restricted range of motion. When I was able to get out more and walk, I realized that movement really did help. But then sometimes without any clear reason my knee would swell up again. Two steps forward, one step back, and I still couldn’t walk down the stairs normally without worrying I might pull something and make things worse. After doing some reading, I decided that diet might be one factor in the chronic inflammation that I could proactively modify. So last Thursday, I decided I would eliminate all animal products from my diet for two weeks and see if that helped.

It’s day nine now. The swelling has gone down considerably. A few days ago I was able to do the tree pose with my foot on my calf. I can feel the edges of my knee cap again. Today I went down the steps and felt no pulling in my knee. This afternoon KA and I went walking in the Wienerwald. Egged on by the sunlight through the trees and the birds cheerily singing from the heights of their branches, we somehow ended up at the top of Kolbeterberg (426 m). Going up was easy and invigorating; it was wonderful to feel my heart pounding in my chest from exertion. Fall is a slippery time in the woods thanks to acorns, beech nuts, and fallen leaves. KA found a nice thick stick which I used to avoid slipping and straining my knee on the way down. The descent was somewhat nervewracking, but I made it.

Besides my knee, I feel better physically and mentally since cutting out dairy and eggs last week. (I have been a vegetarian since I was 11.) Over the past ten years, I’ve tried to be vegan on several occasions, but I’ve always reverted to being vegetarian. While I’ve rarely found it difficult to be a vegetarian, eating vegan was more challenging when I traveled and was on the go more or invited to eat at someone’s home. Yet few of us are traveling at the moment, and soon going out to eat (indoors) will not be a good idea again until spring because of those pesky aerosols and droplets. As more meals are being prepared at home, it’s an auspicious moment to experiment with removing animal products from your diet. There are lots of sound environmental and health reasons to eat less animal protein and more plants, but those will have to be the subject of another blog post. I will leave you with our latest vegetable acquisition, an over two kilogram butternut squash, and the back of the navy blue jacket (previously spotted in the vicinity of another squash).

May you take an invigorating walk and reach a nearby summit!

Brittle and Brei

Fall is the dry season. Corn silk darkens and husks stiffen, becoming brittle. Kernels shrink on cobs waiting patiently for the harvest. A hare leaps out of the bushes, lopes ahead of us along the path, then veers sharply left into the shelter of a cornfield.

Some of the fields we have followed these past months are already fallow, soybeans and sugar beets mostly cleared, the soil left exposed to the drying caress of wind and burn of sun. On a cloudy day, the earth has a darker, ruddier complexion, but now it appears muted and pale.

We have come to accept that this is one of the few places close by where we can go for a walk in the sun and be mostly alone on the weekend. Lying on the slope below the Wienerwald and above the Tulln basin through which the Danube River flows, this simple gravel road between agricultural fields is overlooked, unassuming, and buzzing with plant and animal life.

Fall is the windy season. Earlier in the week, we attempted a walk at Lainzer Tiergarten, but the west wind was too strong and blew us back to the parking lot very quickly. On the opposite side of the lot is the Lainz pond, an artificial pond created in the nineteenth century. Better sheltered from the wind by the surrounding trees, we took a short walk to see what was happening on the pond.

A camera shy female Mallard, a limelight loving male. Ripples, more ripples, and reeds. And then I spied one of Robert Macfarlane’s lost words: heron.

Fall slowly takes its toll on us. Cold air drives us inside into heated rooms where aerosols, droplets, and viruses linger. Many have dreaded the change in seasons this year because winter will be more isolating than most of us have ever experienced due to COVID-19. As serious as the situation is, it’s important to enjoy aspects of autumn that do us good – for example, a nourishing and hydrating hot breakfast.

Vegan Grießbrei (semolina porridge) for one: Bring 250 ml water to a boil. Add 3 Tbsp semolina in a steady stream, stirring constantly so clumps do not form. Add 1/2 Tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir and cook for five minutes. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Tastes good with fresh berries and/or chopped pecans or walnuts.

Another joy of autumn is pulling handknit wool socks out of your dresser drawer and onto chilly feet – or casting on and making a pair of socks for someone you love. KA has been good and should be able to slip on luxurious merino-silk socks before winter arrives.

Enjoy the pleasures of autumn!

Fall Growth with Cinnamon

Yesterday: a walk along a forest road discovered this spring while we sought fresh air and movement during the first wave of COVID sheltering in place. The first leaves are falling and decorating the ground. Fitting to return there this week because COVID measures have just been tightened up again to rein in the growth in new cases in Austria – half of which are in Vienna. Starting today, if you go to a restaurant, cafe, or bar, you must leave contact information. In the event a guest tests positive, you will be informed. I have no problem doing this, but since the situation is dire enough to require such a measure, I don’t plan on going out to eat in the near future.

KA and I managed to use our restaurant voucher on one of the last sunny summery days last week. We ate outside at a restaurant with a stunning view of the Wienerwald. No Germknödel on the menu, but for dessert I had an amazing apple strudel whose taste was cinnamon heaven. It was the first time I had gone out to eat since early March (with the exception of coffee outside at a local cafe). Tables were spaced well apart and most diners were much older than us – until just before we left when a man and his 10-year-old son sat down at the table behind KA. The waitress asked why the boy wasn’t in school. It’s closed because of COVID, the man said. The waitress asked if he was sure the boy didn’t have it. He doesn’t have it, was the reply. Was it wishful thinking, or had the boy been tested? We will never know. Schools are still open except for a handful where there have been outbreaks. Universities are starting in person this week. How this is going to keep the number of infections stable over the next few months, I don’t know. Even if you don’t work for an educational institution or have children who are still receiving an education, the issue of schools teaching in person affects us all because students are a) human beings and thus b) capable of catching, harboring, and spreading the virus. The sooner we realize we can’t go back to how it was, the sooner we can use our inherent creativity to come up with a new and perhaps even better educational system. How about flexibility, adaptation, and experimentation instead of clinging to structures that no longer work and endanger others in this new world that is unfolding?

Thankfully, cinnamon remains a part of this new world. Still heady with this spice, I searched through my recipe folder for a new apple recipe to try and found one for a Jewish New Year apple cake by Claudia Roden that features cinnamon. Perfect timing! Normally I go for cake recipes that do not require separating egg yolks from egg whites, but this time I made an exception. Flaumig, KA proclaimed. Fluffy. He needed a second slice fairly quickly. Other tastes of fall: Hokkaido or red kuri squash sliced and baked in the oven with thyme, salt, and pepper next to slices of Halloumi cheese. A quick quiz: is the fabric in the picture below a) a squash warmer, b) the bottom of a wool jacket, or c) something entirely different? Feel free to leave any answer c’s in the comments.

A great knitting disappointment underlined how foolish it is to ignore creative visions. The cotton tweed was originally earmarked for a cowl pattern I have made before. As many knitters will understand, I was distracted by the kerchief pattern that looked nice and started on that instead. Halfway through the bind off, I realized that as lovely as the kerchief had turned out, it was not the shape and size I needed it to be. I knew I wouldn’t wear it, and the yarn is too soft and the color too well matched to my wardrobe to not be worn. So I cast on with the other end of the yarn, and now a cowl is starting to grow.

How long will it take me to finish these two projects? Another two are threatening to slow down progress, one I have already started and another begging to be cast on, and I fear I won’t be able to resist the pull of starting a fourth project. It’s been awhile since I have had so many going at one time. No need to worry, though. There is no competition and no deadline. Each project grows at its own pace, and one day they will all be completed. The moon continues to grow at its own pace too, and it will be full in no time at all.

Wishing you growth where you want it and enjoy the tastes of fall!

Autumn Transit

The baby blanket is blocked and folded and ready to go. I have proven to myself that I can make a baby blanket materialize within one week if need be. This ended up being a trial run, as the baby this blanket will serve has not arrived yet. While knitting it, I thought of how much things have changed in the nearly 44 years I have been alive. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about how good it was to have grown up before the Internet and social media, how good it was that our brains matured without the distractions and constant stimulus of the digital age. I thought of how lucky I have been to have traveled around North America and Europe as much as I have, to have grown up without material want in a country with a stable government, sheltered from most infectious diseases, a member of the privileged educated class. What will life be like for this baby in 2064, when it is my age? And what will life be like for an 88-year-old in 2064?

Let’s shift from the distant future back to the recent past: Rarely do I use more than one color in a knitting project. It was a good exercise, picking out three colors that match. I was pleased I went with beige as the lightest color instead of using white. I am also satisfied with the stripe pattern. I could have repeated the same order of stripes twice but chose to vary them instead. Now I can relax and keep going on the blue kerchief. It doesn’t look much different than it did in the last picture I shared, but it has grown.

Today is the fall equinox: time to celebrate the arrival of autumn. Our celebratory lunch was rye calzone with zucchini, red onion, and feta filling and a yogurt-mint sauce. Zucchini represents the height of summer, rye supplies a hearty flavor fit for fall; cooling mint and yogurt balance the piping hot calzone just out of the oven. I tweaked Mollie Katzen’s calzone recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

KA was generous enough to leave the cook the last slice of crunchy top peach pie – another tweaked Mollie Katzen recipe, this time from The Moosewood Cookbook. The white peach filling lay snug between the hazelnut crust and the crunchy topping with emmer flakes and hazelnuts.

What will this autumn bring? A blue wool jacket, wool and silk socks, Hokkaido squash, homemade apple strudel, abbey visits, walks in the woods, book journeys to ancient Rome and Italy, crow and rook watching, the flickering flames of the pellet stove, longer nights with deeper sleep, greater composure?

May you have a smooth transition to autumn and its delights!

Hints of Fall

Hints of fall in the colors around me: the orange of Hokkaido squash, the navy of wool for a warm jacket, the brown of the first horse chestnut found on the sidewalk. Sunrise at 6:31 AM, sunset at 7:06 PM. Yet the humidity and warmth hovering in the air make it clear that summer has not departed. Flowers continue to provide a splash of brightness and beauty, and the grass remains green. My rooks have still not returned from the north. How will the Pinguini family react when they are not the only birds in the courtyard?

This year I am fixated on Zwetschken (plums) as I have never been before. The Austrian plums available at the supermarket are huge. Perhaps it’s a bumper crop this year? Baking is the best way to deal with them all ripening at the same time. First, I made a version of this cake (water instead of milk, no sugar, Topfen instead of ricotta). A slice made a good treat for breakfast.

Then I did a little experimentation and came up with the following recipe for juicy plum poppy seed cake. For some reason, this piece of cake looks like a squat version of my home state. Can other WI readers identify Door County in the following picture – or have I been overdosing on poppy seeds?

Zwetschken-Mohnkuchen – Plum Poppy Seed Cake

4 eggs

190 g sugar

230 g yogurt (sheep’s milk)

220 g whole wheat spelt flour

11 g baking powder (or enough for 250 g flour)

pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

20-30 g poppy seeds

4 large plums, quartered and cut into small pieces

Beat the eggs together. Add sugar and mix well. Add yogurt and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add to the wet mixture. Stir in the poppy seeds. Add the plums. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 180°C for 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Delicious when served warm; tasty later on too.

Enjoy the overlap between seasons and all the ripe fruit that crosses your path!

September Lists

There are two types of people in the world: those who make lists and those who don’t. I am one of the former. Lists are an attempt to create order and thus calm the mind. These days there are two major lists in my life: 1. Things hanging over my head that need doing 2. Things I would enjoy doing and hope to do in the next few months. I started both of these lists a few weeks ago. It’s encouraging to see that at least a third of list 1 has been crossed off and that I have made a mark at the start of about a quarter of the items on list 2, indicating I have started working on those items. What is interesting is that there are several entries that occur on both lists: things hanging over my head that I would enjoy doing and hope to do. For example, knitting a baby blanket.

KA’s nephew and godson will become a father for the first time any day now. I decided months ago I would make a baby blanket as a gift. Since the due date was the beginning of October, it was easy to procrastinate. Three summers ago I knit a sportweight merino baby blanket for my cousin’s daughter, spending most of July through September (that September being a scorcher in Wisconsin) with a warm wool blanket on my lap. While it was worth it and for her I would do it again, I vowed not to knit any more merino baby blankets in summer. Then last week, we found out the due date had been moved up to September. It was time to spring into action. I decided to keep things simple and make a three color striped garter stitch blanket. (For non-knitting readers who most likely know “knit” and “purl”: garter stitch is all “knit” and no “purl.”) I delegated the choice between two color schemes and the order of the colored stripes to KA. After two days of knitting, I am already a quarter of the way through.

This has put my recycled cotton kerchief on hold, but that’s OK. It’s not like I don’t have anything to wrap around my neck when it cools off. I know I would regret not having made a blanket later on. Earlier this week, I read a moving piece written by a young man in his early thirties with terminal cancer. He shares five lessons he has learned, two of which pertain to gifting a handknit baby blanket: connect with others and do something for others. The other three lessons are feeling gratitude, protecting the planet, and remembering that a life if lived well is long enough. What is interesting is that these lessons involve focusing outward, not inward; we should be considerate of others and the planet and remember what gifts we have received.

This morning I read that just hours after his article was published on Monday, the young man passed away. Even though we never met, we connected since he took the time to share his thoughts through writing. It’s a reminder that words matter and can make a difference.

May you connect with others!

Patschen and Powidl in a Time of Ferment

Judging by the swells of emotion rolling over the world, I presume many people feel like this moth, trapped in a glass and the blinding sunlight of 2020. Right after I took this picture, KA liberated the moth, which had been hiding in his shorts on the clothes rack. It promptly flew away to go about its business in an environment more hospitable to moths than our bedroom. I hope the energy behind all the anger and indignation bubbling over into the streets is swiftly channeled into actions that make everyone safer, healthier, and more at peace. It is indeed a time of great ferment. Maybe that is why the next traditional Austrian dumplings I attempted were Germknödel, or yeast dumplings.

The dough rose well and it wasn’t hard to shape it into dumplings with a special treat hidden in the middle: a spoonful of Powidl, or plum jam. (Traditional Powidl is another chapter in itself, involving cooking plums for hours with no sugar until they are dark and dry. That experiment will wait until I have a plum tree at my disposal.) The large dumplings are then either boiled or steamed for 15 minutes. Well-mannered dumplings swell up nicely. The first batch of mine were well-mannered until they became waterlogged – a common problem for nascent Germknödel cooks of the boiling school. This is how Germknödel shouldn’t look when served with melted butter and poppy seeds.

To clarify: those are two sad, deflated Germknödel on the plate. The second batch turned out better. Next time I will try steaming them. Since I had never eaten Germknödel before making my own, KA suggested buying them premade so I have a better understanding of how they should turn out. Or maybe we should finally use our Wiener Gastro-Gutschein and sample some at a restaurant that serves traditional Viennese food. Every household in Vienna received a voucher for either 25 EUR (single-person households) or 50 EUR (two or more person-households) that can be used to go out to eat at participating restaurants and cafes. The aim is to support local businesses that took a hit earlier in the year when everything closed down for two months. (KA also sees it as a Wahlzuckerl, literally “election candy,” meaning a concession to the public before an election; October 11 is the date that Vienna chooses the members of its city council, who in turn choose the mayor.) We still haven’t used ours yet, and it runs out at the end of the month.

My dumpling experiments continued with Zwetschgenknödel, or plum dumplings. There are two schools of thought here regarding the main ingredient of the dough: potato or Topfen. I used the same Topfen dough recipe as for Marillenknödel and encountered a phenomenon I was warned about: the dough does not adhere as well to the smooth skin of the plums as it does to fuzzier apricots. Next time I will try a potato dough.

On to knitting. The green Tethys shawl is finished and blocking. It remains to be seen how much I will wear it since it doesn’t match much of my wardrobe. Nonetheless, I love the color and it feels good to be finished. It’s that time of the year when autumn is within sight, when I remember that survival in these latitudes hinges upon warm feet, when I admit that the simple summer equation of bare feet and sneakers will soon become more complicated. This morning I tucked in the ends of a pair of Patschen (Austrian German for slippers). This free pattern is an easy weekend project.

This week I noticed that the red beret at the top of the basket of hats, mitts, and scarves I have been meaning to go through and wash all summer is sporting a thick layer of dust. Now that my feet are ready for cool fall mornings and evenings, I had better shift my attention to the contents of the basket. Handwashing is a household chore I inevitably drag my feet on. Pinguini (on the left) is lucky to just have feathers to preen.

May you channel your energy into positive action!

Stumbling Across a Garden

Let’s rewind the tape back to last Sunday, 11 AM, Central European Summer Time, before my hometown suddenly became notorious and people firing guns caused yet more suffering in the world…

It was a gorgeous Sunday, perfect for a day trip outside the city. KA chose the direction: northwest. We set off without a plan. I suggested that we start by stopping at Stift Göttweig, the Benedictine abbey at the eastern end of the Wachau region, to enjoy the view of the Danube valley. While driving by on our way back from the Waldviertel earlier this summer, we had been impressed by the sight of the Baroque complex perched atop a hill and keeping watch over the land below.

Originally started by the Augustinian order in 1083, the abbey has hosted a Benedictine community since 1094. Only a small chapel and a few other structures remain from that time. The pink church is Austrian Baroque and dates back to the eighteenth century. It is built on the site of the previous medieval church, which was destroyed in a fire in 1718.

KA and I skipped the tour since we are interested neither in Baroque church art and architecture nor in spending time in buildings with strangers (even though everyone must wear a mask). Instead, we set out to explore the grounds. Wherever you go in Europe, the best real estate locations have inevitably been staked out and claimed by the Catholic church at least a millennium ago. Stift Göttweig is no exception. We have decided to seek out and visit the abbeys of Lower Austria since in our experience, they are all great spots. On the side of the abbey opposite the Danube, there are benches where you can sit and admire the view below.

Yet the most magical moment of our visit came as KA remarked that the gate to the Marillengarten (apricot garden) was open. The Wachau region is known for its apricots, so it came as no surprise that the abbey has its own apricot orchard. As I walked into the garden, I was greeted by an ancient yew. We had missed apricot season, but fruit and nuts were still ripening on apple, plum, fig, and walnut trees.

There was a large vegetable garden and a greenhouse. Everything was lovingly cared for, and chairs were placed around the garden with signs inviting guests to sit down and linger. So we did. A small brown bird flitted back and forth between the trees, twittering cheerfully. Would someone please entrust me with the care of such a garden, far from the madding crowd? I will tend it in exchange for a place to live.

In the end, we spent the entire afternoon at Stift Göttweig. It was good that we hadn’t continued on to explore any of the towns along the Danube. On the news that night, we saw footage of flooding from torrential rain that had fallen the night before.

May you stumble across a peaceful garden with an open gate and linger awhile!