Since yesterday afternoon, I am back in Vienna. And even if it had only been for the New Year's Eve, it would have been enough for a year:

The trip to Burgenland is always a holiday trip. Past the motorway junction towards Mattersburg, after which, the traffic shrinks to a bearable level. The sun comes out from behind the clouds. Although after every single bend an expected, familiar image appears - it's vacation! It is comforting! It is desired and satisfactory. No matter whether it's for a day or for longer.

Well, there we drive then through the boundary area where Burgenland has put a belt around its waist, this time on the Hungarian side. Some ice on the visible water puddles. Buzzards sit on the fences and trees like a guard of honor. There are also a few left-behind storks and some deer greeting us. Regularly we have to slow down the small red car, which is rushing down the well known streets full of joy and high spirits.

Schandorf is going to be the destination of the trip. We want to thank someone for a gift of quinces we got in the late autumn. Therefore we brought a taster to give it to the donor.

Down the main road, parking in front of the beautiful wrought-iron fence and then with the box full of quince cheese and quince jam in hand we stand in front of the glass veranda. The small blond dog is barking as I ring the bell. First, nothing happens at all. We think about leaving the box with a note on the window sill, when the door opens.

A small woman with gray curls and a blue house dress opens the door briefly and before I can say a single word, she closes the door with a non-friendly "We don't buy anything, we need nothing, go away!"

I don't know what to say. Even the dog has stopped barking. I take a deep breath and ring again. A second time. She comes back again and, as fast as I can, I say "thank you for the quinces" and that I bring something we made from them and that I don't want to sell anything.

Then she opens the door and invites us into the house. I get the chance to thank them for the quinces and I hand over my products. The elderly landlord has forgotten about me, of course, and therefore his joyful surprise is touching. The woman apologized several times. She tells about Jehovah's witnesses who are around, and about people selling all kind of stuff and beggars walking through the village in recent months. Then we talk about the quinces and that I should come visit them again. I could have all of the quinces, just come and take them even when nobody is at home. The gate is always open and the dog does already know me. The quinces are only used to feed the pigs and that's a pity.

When she came to the house in the 30s, the quince trees had already been there. Her husband's father had planted them. Until a few years ago, she had dried the fruits for the wardrobe, but now it would be too much work to do. And we would always be welcome. We say goodbye with the promise to come back.

We both smile and take a small walk through the village. Next to the church we discover a nativity set with figures made of straw, and all but the deer are made of wood. Then we discover that the decorations of some houses, all together, form an Advent calendar. Each day is displayed as a number in a window.

That strangers walk through the village is not unnoticed. Discussions over the fences take a little bit longer and we are watched carefully. By saying "Guten Tag" I am easily identified as a stranger. Who doesn't say "Gr Gott" (both means "hello") here does definitely come from far away. The window will only be closed when we have left and the border troops watch us closely.

We are just happy about it. Tomorrow the village will talk about us and the woman of Schandorf's house number 100 is going to tell, that in the afternoon of the day before, two persons came to her door and she had thought they were Jehovah's witnesses.

What my husband caused the greatest joy is that I was speechless for once. The first time after almost twenty years - a unique experience.

The finest and largest and cheesiest red full moon crowned our departure from Schandorf. We were both happy and satisfied. It had been so touchy and crazy and unique.

It was many miles away when it came to our mind, that we don't know the names of the people and that we didn't introduce ourselves. But that's not necessary anyway, because we will never forget each other.

This feeling still holds me even now. It makes everything better and more beautiful.

by Elfie Resch (2009.12.31)