“Steirabluat is koa Himbeersoft” von der Bad Mitterndorferin Hannah Fessler

Während der ersten 6 Monate meines Aufenthalts in Lancaster bin ich Teil des Teams der Writers’ Society geworden. Am Ende des letzten Terms hielten wir unser erstes Open Mic zum Thema ‘Homeland’. Mein Text über Bad Mitterndorf ‘Steirabluat is koa Himbeersoft’ wurde im Online Literary Journal ‘Ardent Lies’ veröffentlicht:

‘steirabluat is koa himbeersoft’ by hannah fessler

Hannah Fessler is an Austrian student and writer currently based in Lancaster, UK. As an English and History student, she spends most of her time reading, writing, and playing the piano. For her Fantasy writing she draws much inspiration from history, and is also taking on Literary Fiction in which she enjoys to torture both herself and her readers with tormenting her characters. 

Home has had many definitions for me in the past years. It was my village when I was a child and didn’t know yet that the world didn’t revolve solely around me; It was my family home, nestled in between mountains and snow and wind that nipped at my face, then morphed into my flat, and I’m not certain that I consider Lancaster as “home” yet, nor if I ever will.

            But my homeland has been, and will always be, Austria. Perhaps this is something I learnt particularly because I moved away. When I left my village to study in the city, I was still astounded that looking upwards I wouldn’t see the peaks of snow-capped mountains, making out the cross at its top if I squinted my eyes, but what greeted me were the roofs of buildings, reflecting hurried faces. When I’m in the countryside I’m certain that there is no barrier between my God and me, for I see nothing  but sky and if it is veiled behind a sheet of clouds I only have to turn to find the woods behind my house to see another creation of the universe. Did God, did the universe, create the car park in the city centre as well? Moving taught me to appreciate the mountains and the volumes of snow that stopped the buses only once when the pass was closed in 2019.

            Now I miss the culture, the traditions. Every 5th of December, when the night has fallen and the ground is white and the only thing that disrupts the quiet of the darkness is the ringing of the bells of Krampus. I was so sure he’d drag me down to hell when I was a child, and I would wear the welts on my thighs from their birch rods for days to come.

            I miss the smell of stag meat in our house and the freshly picked mushrooms in our kitchen when I hurried downstairs, hailed by my mother’s calling, our dialect thick on her tongue – how we’d always have our meals together, the fire blazing in the furnace.

            I miss spontaneously waking in the early hours of a dewy summer morning, the sun still hidden beneath the horizon, to climb the mountain behind my house with my sister, watching as a yellow disc slowly draws its fiery arc along the sky, and then driving to the lake afterwards.

            I miss my cats, running around the garden and cosying up by the hearth we fire up with wood my father and my uncle felled last season. Miss, that the water doesn’t taste of chlorine, even in the cities, because dripping down my wet skin is not chemicals, but melted glacier. I miss knowing that it would snow the next day just by the smell of the air, and saying “Großvater, es hat geschneit!” when we saw the first snow of the season, stemming from a children’s show we watched before we went to bed, and the way my ears hurt in the car after skiing; the grating noise of the snowplough and the following complaints of my parents in the morning when the snow is dumped in our driveway.

            And like everyone I reminisce of childhood, though Austrian childhood vastly differs from yours, and I’ve been told we are raised barbaric and brutally. My sister and I were read bedtime stories of the Brothers Grimm and the Struwwelpeter – harrowing tales about a boy who got his thumbs cut off because he wouldn’t stop sucking on them and a girl that played with fire until there was nothing left of her but heaps of ashes and her two cats.

            I especially miss the Christmas traditions and the Christkind (Baby Jesus), who isn’t commercialised and brings presents to a locked room on Christmas Eve. If I try hard to, I can smell the oranges and nuts, sitting around the Adventskranz each Sunday, singing and listening to old Christmas songs. Even though I hated it, being dragged to church at midnight on Christmas Eve and seeing all my school friends there now brings me a sense of peace, the pastor handing us money to have roasted chestnuts and punch outside after the nativity play.

            Now, when I show my friends pictures of my home, they tell me it looks like Sound of Music, not aware that there is only a handful of Austrians that have actually watched the movie. I never have, but I now take pride in wearing my traditional clothing, the different colours representing the different home towns, even though it saddens me to see it sexualised and used as Halloween costumes because it is “German”.

            My blood isn’t raspberry syrup. It runs thick and among the rivers of my home town, among the melting glaciers in the spring, cascading down the mountains and through the woods; but most importantly it runs in me.

Foto: Hannah Fessler

Über den Autor

Dr. Rainer Hilbrand
Medieninhaber u. Geschäftsführer

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