Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring has sprung in the Dorf

Unfortunately this past week I lost the use of my camera due to my own negligence. I awoke Wednesday morning realizing that I left my camera outside the night before. I went to where I left it. Everything seemed ok but then I discovered something had happened and the lens would not open. With my camera out of commission, the survival of this blog and my internship were at stake. I tried various things to fix the camera but to no avail, I had to search for a new one.
The great "Olympus Stylus". This camera has lasted me for two years after I received it as a gift for Christmas.
One of the first pictures taken with my camera was over 2 years ago. This is a picture of the tree in front of my house
First picture taken with new camera of Nik and Jane. We were getting coffee in Meran
Spring is slowly making its way in our little valley. The birds are singing and the plants are starting to put out flowers. You can hear the bees buzzing around. Spring brings warmer weather and more day light. Today it happen to be daylight savings time and the clocks sprung forward 1 hour. Spring brings a different mood to people, animals and the environment and I am happy to welcome it. Today I decided to try out my new camera and get a feel for it. The students also decided to grill some food. The following pictures are all from today of the students and the flora and fauna.
The valley below/Meran
Tim, Emma, Jacqueline
Grilling goodness
Robbie serving Mitch
Mitch, Emma, Jacqueline
Grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on a bun
Eating the delicious food
Jane and Brigitte
Veggies to be grilled
These next two shots were shot with a mutli-shot option. The camera takes a whole bunch of shots in a 5 second period. It allowed me to get these interesting shots of Jordan, Spencer and Robbie tossing the frisbee around.
Bee pollinating. You could hear a loud buzzing coming from this tree because of all the bees around it
Hackie sacking
Students reading for class tomorrow
Jordan, shot with the retro setting on my camera
African chickens
Two ducks getting a drink of water
Stairs going to the terrace outside the familie's home and also the boiler.
Fountain that Mitch cleaned up during work day
Ezra Pound statue
Fire below the grill
Part of the vineyard that we finished pruning this week
Pruned vines
Students stacked wood outside croft
This path was covered with dirt, rubble, and concrete chunks. At the end of the path there was a big pile of ash from the boiler. Two students, Ali and Jacqueline, did a really good job cleaning up the whole area.
They also raked up leaves in this garden
We built a rabbit cage from an art piece that was donated to Brunnenburg. Ezra Pound was imprisoned in a cage that was similar to this one for his radical political views. Rabbits dig and were escaping from there other cage.
Side-view from the outside
Inside cage

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The portal at Schloss Tirol

Now that the Goldmuskatllers are done being pruned, we have been quickly going through the rest of the vines. The step after pruning is binding where you bind the vines to a piece of rebar that sticks out of the ground. This will keep the vines close to the trellising as the grapes grow. As stated in a previous post this used to be done with willows but has now been replaced with plastic tubing. The tubing is one consecutive piece that is rolled into a bag. You also have this ring with a small blade on it used to cut the plastic. When you come to a vine you tie the plastic around both the vine and rebar, twice over and cut. You must also cut away any of the old binding, in this case there were twist ties. You do this three times up until the 2nd wire. You want to make sure the vine is tight and then move on to the next one.

The rubber tube

The ring knife
The tube at on vine and rebar
Tied on with the knot
Old ties

On Wednesday the students were going to take a tour of Schlos Tirol lead by Sizzo. Nik was kind enough to allow me to also go and cut out of work a bit early. Schloss Tirol has been a presence in the region for almost 900 years, built in the early 12th century. The castle towers over the area and can be clearly seen day or night. It has served many different purposes but has been a constant sign of dominance. Its history is tied with South Tirol. This was my first trip up there and Sezto gave a quick history of the region and of Schloss Tirol. The tour was only about 2 hours, but I could have easily spent a whole day there learning about the castle.

The tour was to start at four so I went up with two GMC alumni who were visiting. Johnny and Ashley came to Brunnenburg last week to see Jane and the family. Johnny was a farm boy off and on for nearly nine months. The students arrived a bit after us and we all waited for Sizzo to come down and start the tour. We walked to the front of the castle where we had a great view of the valley below. Sizzo then told us a brief history of the region.

The tunnel leading to Schloss Tirol

Schloss from Brunnenburg

Students waiting for Sizzo


The view of the valley

Glaciers carved the valley around 30,000 years ago. Glaciers covered most of the northern hemisphere during the last ice age. They would alter this area for years to come and define how people in this region survived. Twenty thousand years later the glaciers started to retreat as the earth slowly began to warm. The valley was chaotic during this time with huge rivers of melted ice wearing away the mountains. After the glacier was gone the valley looked almost as it does today.

Evidence shows that early farmers moved into the area around 4,000 B.C.E. mostly growing cereals. These farmers could not farm in the valley itself because it was too swampy so they would clear patches of forest around the valley and farm. You can still see isolated farms in the valley where the forest is cleared. There is evidence of different settlements in the region that were around throughout the Bronze and Iron ages. They were located either in the alpine region above the tree line or sunny terraces of the valley's slope.

Fast forward 4,000 years and you have the Romans moving into the area. They built a road into the valley that connected the region with the rest of their empire. The area was now under the control of the Romans but they did not venture up into the mountains. They only assimilated the settlements that were close to the road forcing them to learn Latin and pay taxes. The practice of wine making was already in the region but the Romans brought in new agricultural practices and ideas.

As the Roman power began to crack around 300 C.E., Christen missionaries made their way into South Tirol, but unlike the Romans travel up to the higher regions to spread the word of God. There is actual evidence that three churches were built on the same land where Schloss Tirol stands, one on top of each other. These churches were also built on old Roman fortifications. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church stepped in and became the dominant power of the area. They collected taxes, enforced the law and generally kept order. South Tirol continued to grow and change. Around 1100 C.E. Schloss Tirol emerged as visible sign of imperial power over the region. I will end the history lesson for now until I get another chance to get up to the castle.

One of the more interesting aspects of the tour came at the very end at the entrance of the church in the castle. They call the entrance a portal and it had different symbols representing different aspects in the Christian religion. Although I am not religious myself, I was interested in the mythology behind it. The next few pictures are the different parts of the portal and I will describe each of them.

Sizzo explaining the portal

Right above the door is an image of Jesus Christ being crucified. The two other men are Joesph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who were the ones who took Jesus from the cross. The scene is also of Jesus being resurrected and heading too heaven. Below him is a hand, which is presumably that of Adam. During the three days that Jesus was dead he went to the underworld and gathered all the souls of past Christians who were not baptized. He then led these souls up to heaven during his resurrection.

The animal on top is a basilisk, is half lion and half cock. This terrifying monster is said to have had "poisoned breath"and is known to be the king of the serpents. It is hard to make out but this monster is eating a rabbit which represents a wavering Christian that is being punished for not having total faith in God.
At the top of the arch is God's hand doing the blessing sign. This happens to be above Jesus and means a renewal of loyalty to God. To the right are some simple wicker knots; Sizzo said these were probably put in there to widen the portal. To right of God's hand are two monkeys, both are grinning almost mockingly as the first one reaches for an apple. The monkeys believe they have taken the apple but if you closer you can see a hand holding them down. This symbolizes that evil is self-defeating and cannot win against good.
The next picture shows a "devil" looking creature punishing a person and sending them down to hell. This could be showing the damnation of Cain, the first murderer. Cain killed his brother Abel because God did not accept Cain's offering. They were both sons of Adam and Eve.
This picture shows David saving a ram from a lion's mouth. Lions sometimes represent evil and David is saving the ram from evil. I do not know the full story about David but it is in the bible.
A centaur is a mythological creature from Roman/Greek mythology. Centaurs are considered wise creatures but will become aggressive when drunk. They are known to take women and rape them. The centaur along with the mermaid represents heretics, heathens against Christianity.
This scene is of Adam and Eve accepting the apple from the snake. This classic scene shows the fall of man from paradise. What is interesting about this piece is that it shows Eve almost willingly accepting the apple of knowledge while Adam is hesitant. Although you cannot see it, his other hand is being pulled away by another hand. I believe this follows a common theme in Christianity where women are shown as heretics and evil.
There are a few more other symbols but unfortunately my notes are incomplete. Hopefully I will be able to visit the portal again and can gather more information.
Schloss at night