The 24 Hours Burgenland Extreme has, from its inception, been a fun extreme.
Walking, running, crawling – whatever you have to do – around the Neusiedler See lake in the middle of winter is definitely quite crazy.
The area around it, the Marchfeld, may be important for Austria’s vegetable growing.
We may have been enjoying the asparagus from there, but I didn’t want to have to go there.
I’m still, aside from current freelance work, pursuing a teaching qualification, though.
This semester, want it or not, this study program finally had me taking the outdoors / field didactics course.
I was just in the middle of a nicely creative – and nicely paying – freelance project (analyzing whether a new technical bureau in a larger city could help a company entice more technical staff to join them, and if so, where the best location for that would be).
So, it was with hesitation that I went out there.
Almost Home, Way Out There
Out, that is, to a former train support staff’s house on the border between Austria and Slovakia.
Where I (usually) live, Parndorf (Southwest of Bratislava) and where Marchegg is (Northwest of Bratislava). [Map: Google, via screenshot because I don’t want to save this as a “My Map”]
Not exactly much of a journey, and not a place likely to be of interest to too many travelers.
Especially when it comes to the biological station that this house was turned into.
Marchegg Biological Station (Smartphone photo + Google Photos’ interpretation makes for quite the fittingly old-timey look ;) )
It used to be a place where steam trains changed their water, because only here in all of the east of Austria could they get calcium-poor water that wouldn’t settle in their tanks as badly.
Which is to say that the house is a little bit old.
With only wood stoves.
No running water.
Not exactly good while feeling that a well-paying freelance project, which requires online research, needed continuing…
Then again, in the middle of way too much time in front of a computer, increasingly suffering neck pain from it, maybe just the time-out needed?
Well, it was.
Thinking Makes It So…
The universe won’t care about anything at all that you wish, but there is one way it bends to your will:
When you decide to see something as a worthy adventure rather than a drag, there is a chance you can make it so.
I decided to see this course as a bit of an adventure, and so it became.
We all worked together pretty well, all the students who went there.
We got a bit more experience teaching; carried, cut and chopped wood; cooked for the group over small gas flames; spent time around an open fire; got to know more about this landscape.
It amazes me.
I don’t know why anyone would still be reading this, but imagine:
You have an area here that mainly looks just like fields.
It is mainly just fields; this area of the Marchfeld is a major vegetable, and especially asparagus, growing one.
… and Knowing Helps a Lot
The Marchfeld is also, at least in part (with dams regulating the river and such), a place where the March river flows and regularly floods quite an area.
Therefore, one finds an alluvial forest here, which are places that are quite interesting to biologists in their species richness and as ecosystems that are quite wild.
… and yes, very basic conditions still didn’t mean we could do without smartphones ;)
Here, something is added:
This is an area where Triops and other crustaceans which have existed since paleontological times still occur.
And to imagine that these fields, those little depressions, contain eggs of ancient species, just waiting for a flooding to let them hatch and reproduce yet again…
That is something.
If you take the time to think about it, at least.
If you don’t have to have the greatest and most extreme of excitement alone to stir your emotions.
Stirring Primal Emotions
If that kind of biological (species) survival isn’t your thing… We also got our thrills learning to handle the snakes that live there.
They aren’t poisonous and hardly bite, but snakes certainly do stir something primal in us human monkeys.
We quickly visited the area around Marchegg Castle, which is interesting to see, too.
There, white storks still breed the way they originally did, with immense woodstick nests built into great dead trees.
Marchegg: White Stork Nesting in Trees
(Mainly, the area where I live is known for the storks which build their nests on village chimneys, which is how most of them now breed.)
To keep the meadows there intact as the meadows that the storks need, and that used to be quite common, horses related to the wild Przewalski horses are kept there.
With them, a certain call of the wild is added. Especially as there were some battles over the proper hierarchy between the herd and an upstart stallion… and we had to pass right through that group of horses.
Wild Horses in Marchegg
With them, also, the meadows have a certain look which is unlike that of meadows cultivated by machine…
Horse-Grazed Meadow in Marchegg
And then, some of us students also spent way too much time socializing into the night, around the fire.
Which is primal, too, if ever there was something primal to us humans… as is the sight of the stars above:
#adventuring, After All
In the end, though I could have done without it, it was a nice little adventuring, a good time-out from just working in front of a computer, indoors.
You don’t have to go all primitive for days, but…
How often do you still satisfy such primal emotions as sitting around a fire?
All that is all the worse when they are traditions where one grew up, but not traditions one grew up with. After all, often enough, we give up on traditions even – or all the more – when we grew up with them.
In a foreign country and culture, there is a chance that we will find them exotic enough to be interested in them, at least. (See “Chinese Family Affairs“)
When they are just a remnant of “our own” history, however, it takes something more to make us want to experience and feel that we can enjoy them.
Last year, I’d already noticed that there would be a steam train into the Salzkammergut, playing on the motif of the Kaiser’s summer visits there, one day in summer.
Old-fashioned, but at least in an interestingly quaint way.
Kaiser ‘Reception’ in Ebensee, Upper Austria (Kaiserzug 2016)
It was also a bit of a gamble, as this year’s journey would take place just the day after our return flight from China, when chances were we might be afflicted by jet lag… but it also seemed just the right time for something like this, to mark our return to Austria with something playing on a return to Austria’s past.
Given we’d come back to Austria on an A380 (and in business class), it all even made for a great contrast of how things had changed in terms of technology, just (just, huh?) within the last 100 years…