I think I can finally say that summer is over here in Austria. They tell me that we’ll have at least one more hot spell but I’m not so sure. It went from being in the 70-80 range to in the high 50s to 60s range. A drop of 20 degrees is exciting in anyone’s book as far as I’m concerned. Add some rain to that and you’ve got a drastically different temperature than the scorcher that happened last weekend.
Beyond that, two other momentous things happened here in Austria this past week. First was a rather hazardous happening. One of the new buildings down the street, it was being completed as we arrived here, lost a tile. Now, that normally wouldn’t be much for anyone but when that tile is over a 100 feet up, it could have been a very tragic moment.
|Where the Tile Fell From|
The DH happened upon it right after it happened and took these pictures. One is of the spot it fell from and you can see there are many more like it in place. Very quickly they cordoned the place off and made sure that no one could walk the sidewalk around the building at all. And while this has caused some despair on my part since this is our most common route to places, we don’t know just what happened.
We speculate that the heat was so high it actually did something to whatever was holding the tile in place. We don’t know if glue was a factor but we do know Austria is not prepared for the heat we saw this past summer. Most of the older buildings have no air conditioning and it’s only been in the last decade that it has been an option in newer homes. There were many nights that people just stayed outside around fountains because it was much cooler than being in their own homes. Like I’ve said before, unfortunately, this is not going to change at all. As the climate changes, the earth will be getting hotter. So we all better prepare now, no matter where we live.
|The Lack of Sidewalk|
Another event that happened was even more momentous to me. I have not hidden the fact I’ve always been weirded out about where I live and the relationship it had concerning World War II. My DH says I’m just strange for feeling this way but part of that has come from the Austrian people themselves. While most are friendly there are just as many who are standoffish and don’t like foreigners. They are a stoic people that just have never given me warm fuzzies. Now there are a few I have come to dearly cherish but overall, not so much.
On Saturday, we went to the mall at the Hauptbahnhof, which is just up the street from our flat. It’s become a very convenient place to shop since it’s just a train ride away. When we arrived at the station where we get off, we were greeted with a mass of humanity. There were people and clothes plus other essentials everywhere. At first, the DH and I thought it must be a fundraiser for the Syrian refugees we knew would be passing our way. We went about our business and walked the platform toward the grocery story. One of the tracks held a train where people were getting on and off but we really couldn’t see since it was on the next platform over.
We speculated just what that train was as we went on our way. I was only getting bananas at the SPAR grocery store so it would be a fast visit. It was our last resort since we’d been to the Naschmarkt and didn’t find any nor at our grocer around the corner either. I was thrilled they were unpacking them when I walked in, quickly picked my bananas and paid for them.
When I came out, we went back up the steps and were again greeted by a mass of humanity. There were kids everywhere and I was never so proud of Pup Harry as when those kids ran to pet him. He took it all in stride and was very good considering he’s only been around the grandkids once. We went back through and the train was still on the tracks, which was odd and by the time we got to the end of the platform where we’d catch our Stassenbahn, there were cots set up.
We knew immediately it had to be some refugees and that those children we’d seen were just happy to be alive as well as seeing a dog. Their parents had to be equally happy to be in a country where it’s peaceful and they aren’t fearing for their lives. That evening as we listened to NPR, our thoughts were confirmed as Austria was one of only two countries who were going to take in hordes of these refugees flooding Europe. The other was Germany. Imagine that…the two who has started the worst war in history with some of the biggest atrocities stepped up to the plate whereas my own country floundered…and I wondered what was in the thought process of the US that very little was being done to help these people, who no fault of their own, were displaced.
In that moment, I couldn’t have been prouder to be here rather than at home. I had always wanted to help those without or those in desperate need. My best friend and I were all prepared to sign up for the Red Cross during the Katrina crisis and were talked out of it by our husbands. She and I have regretted the fact we didn’t just go and do something. Today, I live in a country where the UN is very prominent. And I if I can, I’m going to find a way to help these people as much as I can. Just as soon as I figure out where to go and if they will take someone who knows only English.
I flipped through the stories at NPR and came across one about those refugees. They had been held up at the Austria-Hungarian border while awaiting visas. Hungary wasn’t going to let them through without a valid visa to somewhere in Europe. Germany had started issuing them a while ago and at first Austria was a little hesitant but eventually got on board. Once that was all decided, the trains started and had been going. The picture of the young child being held by his mother made me tear up. The country I was living in was helping those kids and I was deeply touched.
I try not to make this blog or this column anything that it isn’t supposed to be but here goes…humanity is just that…humanity. It doesn’t matter what color we are, what religion we are, young, old, rich, poor, straight or gay – we are people and we need to learn to value everyone on the planet. I feel that there will come a time when we as a species start dying out and we’ll need every one of us. It’s as important as the need to get off this rock someday. We need to care for each other and live those Christian values we are taught because if we don’t, we aren’t living the life intended by the covenant of our religious teachings. The wellbeing of others is part of that charter and it’s time we start making good on it. Love is love and we need to start spreading it around.
Hope you enjoyed this little look into Austria and beyond. See you all next week!