My better half has taken the easy way out again. She’s baking a cake and I’ve got to find a gift for Martin & Lisa’s flat warming party. “Doesn’t have to be anything grand, something personal though.“ As I catch sight of my small swiss stone pine tree in our dining room, I find the perfect solution, thank goodness: Sauschneid Sepp! And as the sun’s beaming down from the sky above, the car stays in the garage and I head off on foot towards the Schachenmoor on the Löbenau.
Walk to “Sauschneid Sepp“
That’s where at an altitude of 1.200 m you’ll find the carpenter’s workshop belonging to Josef Habersatter, known as “Sauschneid Sepp“ (named after the Sauschneidhof, a wonderful farm, which he has already passed on to his son some years ago). I’ve known Sepp since my childhood and years later we were ski instructor colleagues at the Radstadt Ski School together, where he was always on hand with helpful words and deeds for us “wild youngsters“.
Sepp has always been a remarkable person and a farmer with all his heart and soul. His greatest love, however, is wood, swiss stone pine wood to be exact. In his workshop he manages to create small works of art from the non-descript pieces of swiss stone pine wood, each quite unique. Thus over the past 20 years Sepp has acquired a formidable reputation as a wood artist far over the borders of Radstadt.
Swiss stone pine & “Seppology“
After an hour’s walk I come to the workshop with small sawmill and the sound of the motor saw cannot be ignored. Sepp’s working surrounded by wood stumps and boards and is really in his element, so that he doesn’t notice me at first. “Do you really want me, or are you lost?“ – Sepp’s always got a joke on the tip of his tongue and he takes me straight into a small room to show me his latest creations.
Afterwards we take a seat on the bench in front of the workshop and he tells me all about his current ideas. And it becomes quite apparent, that Sepp is not just a wood artist, but also a humble philosopher and visionary. That’s because Sepp thinks a lot about things – about his homeland, tourism, farming, nature and the environment. All of which he calls – with a wink – “Seppology”. Many locals have ridiculed him in the past. But when you take time – which you definitely need when visiting him – then you are sure to learn something from his views and take away things to think about. Time and again the word “biosphere” crops up, by which Sepp means landscape ecology. Not without reason he’s a welcome guest in the nearby Agricultural School.
Scents & well-being
Whilst he’s in full chatting mode, he’s interrupted by a couple on holiday from Kassel , who’ve also heard all about Sepp and really want to meet him. Sepp leads them straight into his showroom and is happy to answer all their questions. He explains to the visitors the healthy benefits of and the manifold uses for swiss stone pine and it’s oil. How you sleep better in a bed made of swiss stone pine wood than in a normal bed, as it undoubtedly improves the room climate and also that the anti-bacterial effect of swiss stone pine oil has been scientifically proven. Not without pride he also presents his nearly 24 m long wooden chain, which he made in 2009 from just one single log of 17 m. In answer to their question, how he become a wood artist, Sepp answers in his unpretentious way: “I just gave it a try.“
Whilst he presents further creations to the visitors, it’s slowly time for me to say goodbye. But wait, for all the listening I nearly forgot my gift. I quickly purchase two glasses with swiss stone pine wood shavings, a glass for Martin and Lisa and one for my wife and me – that’ll make our flat smell lovely too and is sure to bring brownie points at home. As I say goodbye to Sepp, he draws my attention to the Hintere Labeneck, where just a few days ago the first snow fell and I just know – Sepp’s already thinking about the winter. As after almost half a century as a ski instructor, Sepp still loves his skis, which for a change, he didn’t carve himself!
Photo credits: Juliane Habersatter, TVB Radstadt