Saturday, September 5, 2009
Leif in Scheffau, Austria - March 1978 - Age 3
When we lived in Germany the second time, from the summer of 1977 to the summer of 1978, we made two or three trips to Scheffau, Austria. Scheffau is a lovely Tirolian village in the shadow of the Wilder Kaiser Mountain which in the winter is a terrific place to ski and in the summer is a wonderful place to hike.
Peter W. and Peter A. skied and Leif and I hiked around in the snow. We stayed at the Gasthof zum Wilden Kaiser, a lovely place with cozy rooms and superb food.
One of the highlights our our stays was the swimming pool complex in the nearby town of Söll. It had indoor and outdoor pools and one of the outdoor pools was heated to a toasty temperature in the winter. You could swim from the indoor to the outdoor pool through a passageway and literally swim surrounded by snow and ice. We spent one magical evening there swimming in the moonlight and watching the skiers on the mountain where they had lighted downhill runs.
There was another outdoor pool that wasn't heated, and it was so cold that ice was floating in it. If I remember correctly, some German or Austrian guy got out of the nice warm pool and walked (his body steaming in the light as the outdoor temperature was below freezing) and jumped into that icy pool.
Then Peter Anthony dared his dad to do it. I was not in favor of this experiment because I thought it was way too much of a shock to the body to go from a pool that was probably at least 95 degrees to one that was probably just above freezing, but what do wives and mothers know when there's a masculine dare afoot.
Peter W. climbed out of the warm pool, body steaming, and did jump into that freezing pool. To go the other guy one better, I think he even swam across the icy pool before climbing out and jumping back into the hot water.
He said the cold pool was bad, but going from that back into the hot one was much worse. He said it felt like a million needles jabbed into him.
Luckily, he was young and strong and survived this ordeal without any harm, and it became a favorite family story to tell. Unfortunately, we have no photos of it as we had no camera out there in the pool.
I don't know whether Leif remembered anything about our trips to Scheffau or not, but the likelihood is that he had at least some memories of it. He had an astoundingly good memory for things from his childhood and beyond. Even if he didn't remember it, he surely heard the story many times.
He was only three years old when we took the trip that is shown in these pictures, and although he was very tall for a three-year-old, it's hard to believe that my "gentle giant" was ever that small.
We were so fortunate to have the chance to live in so many fascinating places and be able to travel and enjoy them. I have warm memories of our Scheffau trips, and of walking in the woods with Leif and snuggling up with him and reading stories.