Overnight train, one-night stay, marathon, overnight train back.
This time: To Venice for the Venice Marathon.
Yep, Italy again.
Three years – has it really been three years already?! – after the first time I visited the place my wife grew up and her parents still (mainly) live, deep in the countryside of Hunan, we returned.
One of the things I returned to was running in a circle.
In Austria, and particularly its east, I’ve lived for the longest time. So, it is just natural that I’d think I know this place and find little of interest in it anymore. Jaded and inured to the charm…
To make myself really at home here and remember that there’s a lot I don’t know and can yet explore further – not to forget, to have the fun of doing so – it helps to find contrasts.
For one, there is that nice contrast between spring – with a topping of snow – further into the Alps and the rather more advanced turn to spring at lower elevations, in the east.
(This year though, interestingly enough, I couldn’t honestly say that this is quite how it is. In the lower parts of where I go in the Alps, the fruit trees are blooming at the same time as in the Pannonian east…)
Of course, there are always the cycles to get at home in and to see again, in their new iteration.
There are the circles I run in and always see somewhat anew, whether that should be because something out there has changed with the passing of time, or whether it is because I have changed, seeing something differently, knowing something more, or getting faster or slower.
And, turning from winter to spring, the wind gets slightly – and sometimes, much – warmer (we hardly ever have no wind here), and it’s been time to see the wild leeks emerge again… and to use them.
This, too, has become quite a theme as my interest in food (not least with www.chilicult.com) has become stronger.
These wild leeks used to be what the poorest of people would have eaten, and what anybody who was anything didn’t want to be caught using (or so says my 93-year-old ‘aunt’); like so many things, they have turned into a spring delicacy that is found on restaurant menus same as in supermarkets, in sausages same as in breads sold in the spring.
Amusingly, considering the carpet of these wild leeks one can find in the Leitha mountains (Leithagebirge) – and actually, also where I go in the Alps – they also sell at rather high prices.
If 100 grams are 3 Euro, then what I sometimes step on, as need be, when I go running through those forest paths must be hundreds of Euros worth…
My running there still ranges somewhat widely, along the ‘mountains’ whenever I can, as a big part of the fun is getting into this area designated with the same word as mountain ranges in the Alps, in some select trail segments almost looking the part… but mainly being nothing much more than hills.
Yet, it can offer different views than other places there – another kind of contrast – again:
Still, running here when the leeks have emerged looks little like a classical training run on which time and distance matters the most; it gets slower and delayed whenever the fancy – or rather, the amount of food to be foraged – strikes.
Then, rain jacket and running vest also suddenly find themselves being used not to protect from weather extremes but to serve as wild leek carrying system; the 3L volume is tested well ;)
The passion for exploratory living does, admittedly, profit handsomely from some studies in contrast.
My personal practice for that (as you, my dear readers, may have noticed ;) ) are trips to the Traunsee in the Salzkammergut, Upper Austria.