It took a couple attempts to get the fire going as each piece of kindling wood was delicately placed inside the small fire hatch. It was how I remember the way my grandmother always used to cook. Old Grandma Selma could churn out her famous Christmas feasts on her wood stove just about with her eyes closed. This was my first experience cooking a meal on one of these bygone eras. I was preparing a meal for my Austrian hosts in their 350 year old hut.
Perched on the side of a hill, it’s about as original as it gets. Complete with stable, no running water except for a water trough carved out of a tree trunk fed by water from a spring, ancient wooden doors that lead into a small kitchen and dining room, and steps that lead to a small upstairs bedroom. A large part of the side of the hut hinges down to create a ramp to the loft to store hay for the winter.
The well had only the day before been recommissioned. Apparently it’s not as simple as whacking a hole in the ground. I was told the timing of the moon is critical in locating the position of a well. As the moon affects the tides, also does it with the level of underground spring water as was explained to me.
The hut had only just been restored to a stage where it’s just liveable. That’s except for a toilet, shower, kitchen sink or running water. It does have recently connected power however. This adds a touch of irony with a coffee machine and electric kettle sitting on the old weathered kitchen bench below the small shuttered window.
The portable hot plates I must admit were a saviour. With a huge pot of vegetables waiting to cook, it soon became clear that Grandma would have prepared her meal hours before I had thought of. The stove at least provided the final nostalgic touch to keep the pot of waiting meal warm.
And what better way to compliment this little cook up than with a few shots of schnapps, beer, wine and a sing along to finish the night off. A lovely nostalgic night to remember.
But it’s a weird thing. We strive to live in our version of a McMansion with all the latest mod cons. Yet we romanticise about a getaway in the likes of some ancient rustic hut. Or we’ll relish the experience of spending weeks on end couped up in a caravan that’s not much wider than our passage. Or despite all the comforts of home we’ll go living in the closest thing to a cave such as camping in a tent.
Whatever this quirck of human nature, an evening in this fantastic old hut was a real highlight. Let alone what it would be like in winter. Near the base of a nearby ski run, skiing down the slopes up to the hut to enjoy some Schnapps while watching through those tiny little shutter windows, the snow flakes gently falling outside, while that pot of stew is warmed by that quaint old wood stove. It couldn’t get much better than that.