You might have heard a weather lore or country saying or two, such as: “If the leaves fall quickly in the forest, then winter’s just around the corner”. But do you also know how they came about? You’ll find answers on a gentle walk on the Schwemmberg in Altenmarkt, along the country sayings trail. A what’s more, there are fabulous views of the valley, an almost magical forest trail and culinary rewards at two refreshment stops.
Origin of country sayings
In olden times, long before there were meteorological stations and weather forecasts, particularly farmers were extremely dependent on the weather due to their work being in the fields and outdoors around the farm. Therefore, they tried to devise weather rules according to their observations, organizing their work so that a good harvest and their resulting survival was guaranteed. These observations go back as far as medieval times.
The path and the sayings
The “country sayings trail” starts at the “Köpferkehre“ on the Schwemmberg, where there’s plenty of space to park your car. If you wish to extend the walk somewhat, you can of course start directly in the resort. After around one hour and approx. 300 metres elevation gain you reach the starting point.
Starting with the weather lores, therefore clockwise, I head off along the 4.9 km long trail, leading from the Köpferkehre through light forest, with my seven year old son and my eight year old niece. At regular intervals you pass stations, highlighting a weather lore or country saying. I find it very exciting, as I was not aware of many background stories. Like for example, that the “Altweiber” summer“ (old womens‘ summer = Indian summer), has nothing to do with old ladies, but comes from the old German word “weiben“ , a description for the spinning of spiders’ webs. On sunny days in September, the temperatures drop so low in the night, that in the early morning the spiders’ webs are clearly visible due to the dew. The threads glisten in the sunshine like long silver-grey hair. Ancient legends say, that old women lost them whilst combing their hair and the goddess of fate used them for spinning. So old ladies do play a small role when talking about the “old woman’s summer”.
The “country sayings trail” offers a total of 26 stations, split into 12 weather lores and 14 weather prognostication days. Whilst weather lores are forecasts connected with the wind, lightning, thunder and prophecies from the animal and plant kingdom, weather prognostication days are all about certain days in the year, which give an indication of the weather ahead for a certain period of time.
We stroll pleasantly from station to station. Time and again we find blueberries and the children enjoy jumping over tree roots. Forest benches entice us to take a seat. We enjoy a particularly long comfy stop on a wide wooden seat with a view of the Lackenkogel.
The highlight for the kids, in addition to the many treasures such as pine cones and sticks, which they find in the forest, is the animal long jump track. Measuring your achievements against squirrels, rabbits and co. is great fun and makes you quite jealous. In any case, both of them would love to jump as far as bambi. The small hunter’s high seat with wildlife feeding point, just waiting to be explored, is particularly charming.
Well worth the walk for culinary reasons too
At the end of the weather lores stations, we stop for refreshment at the Reitlehenalm. The trout from their own fish pond is really delicious and the cheese dumplings on the next table look very tasty too. After eating, we don’t want to miss a quick visit to the idyllically situated fish pond above the hut.
After around 2 ¼ hours walking, at the end of the circular trail at the Jausenstation Habersatt, we treat ourselves to dessert, a quark strudel – you won’t find a tastier one anywhere.
I savour the splendid view over the valley by myself, as my young companions can’t wait to visit the petting animals and explore the playground.
Martin Steffner is, together with his family, not just the manager of the Jausenstation Habersatt, but at the same time creative source and developer of the “country sayings trail”. So, if you have any questions after your walk, you’re welcome to ask him.
On the short way back to the car “modern“ country sayings add to my amusement. The children want to know what I find so funny, but I don’t give them a proper answer. Why? You’ll have to find out for yourself.
By the way, the country sayings trail is open all year round. When the snow arrives you just have to put on your snowshoes instead of walking boots. You can rent these from the sports shops in resort. In winter the “country sayings trail” is displayed in quite a different light – a magical experience indeed.
photo credits: Anita Ellmer, TVB Altenmarkt-Zauchensee