Posted by: Nazausgraben | August 4, 2009


Daybreak…morgengrau…the day that the 40′ sea container holding all of our worldly stuff was to arrive. It had been underway for more than a month, onboard one of the huge container ships that one sees plying the oceans of the planet, maintaining the link of transport between nations, keeping the lifes blood of international commerce moving through calm seas and gales alike.

There, amidst the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of similar corrugated heavy metal boxes making the same journey from the United States to Europe on that day…there was our container, decaled with Chinese script that I could not decipher (probably something about the ironies of how a box originating from a Communist country was hauling the fruits of Capitalism to Western Europe)..there was our container that had since made port in Bremerhaven, Germany, was sent by train to Salzburg, Austria, trucked on to Innsbruck, Reutte (the town nearest to Pinswang) and then on to Pinswang itself.

Beyond the customs inspection in Reutte, there were a plethora of additional daunting challenges to be overcome. How was a truck hauling a 40′ container going to be able to reach our house, accessible by nothing more than a couple of small traversing farmers fields and the other being the via Claudia? Once here, how were we to unload the entire container in the 2-hour free allotted time available? What if it rains, hails, or the Earth succumbs to some unforeseen catastrophic event…how do we keep our fruits of Capitalism from being damaged?

Happily, my concerns were for naught, as Susi and one of our neighbors, Willi, had been planning for this day for some time. Their conversations began long before our Airbus defeated gravity and, pointed eastward toward Europe, sought the deep purple Chicago evening skies. I was somewhat comforted by Susi’s verbal ministrations, “Kein angst…wir haben alles in griff”. which means that she had everything under control. Something said to cool the fevered brow or did not matter, as the adventure was about to begin.

0830 on the day of the container. Willi arrived driving his splendid old red tractor. You could hear it chugging and putting its way along the via Claudia from a kilometer away. Shortly thereafter came more members of the moving team, along with two more tractors with flatbed trailers. We were certainly prepared for almost anything. Rain was on the horizon, topping the montains around us in the dark misty gray characterizing cold drizzley rains….if only the weather…

0930, thar she blows…stopped at the intersection of the main road through Pinswang and the short strip of asphalt marking the start of the road leading to our path. I walked this path earlier in the day, and it was narrow…very narrow for a multi-ton 18-wheel Lastkraftwagen (LKW). But there it was, blocking the unmarked double laner…the driver eyeing the sharp turn on to the asphalt section of the path and the unpaved line to the via Claudia fence.

There it came, a few hundred horsepower of pure metal and exhaust, slowly backing its way between very old cement and wood fence posts, with nary a millimeter to spare on either side of the lane. I was somewhat concerned that the sides of the container might strike one or more of the electrified wire ‘fence’  posts designed to keep the cows from wandering out of Toni’s field (where they were munching away on his ever-growing grass and wildflowers). I envisioned 1000s of volts shooting through the rig, the driver escaping unharmed and every bit of electronics therein being cooked to a braten-like crispiness.

The aforementioned cows watched this entire event unfold, heads bobbing as they fed on the millions of delectable blades and stalks, the blues, yellows and whites of their flowered sidedishes. They seemed not at all phased by the events before them. Quite suddenly, however, they all stopped ingesting and stared at the goliath passing by but a couple of meters from their dining room. Tails began to flick furiously, eyes were wide, udders quivering, they were frozen in place as they believed this was to suddenly be their last hours alive. For the truck taking them to the slaughterhouse (Schlachthaus) had arrived, and they were about to meet their collective end.

Not today, for the truck rumbled on by, and except for the one Bessie that in panic, scampered as far away from the metal beast as possible, calm was quickly restored. Munching recommenced and all was again well in the pasture. If cows could only sigh.

I was impressed, for despite the size of trailer and cab, the driver was able to bring the entire rig through the twists and turns with seemingly little effort…backing up all the way to the via Claudia.


Reaching the posts of the Roman Road gate, the driver stopped, secured the brakes, jumped out of the cab, stepped back to and watched the ensuing choreography unfold.

Large heavy boxes were carried, slid and wheeled from container onto the tractor-driven trailers, lined up patientlyto receive their anticipated load.  Then, with trailers overflowing, they began the short journey ahead, slowly made their way along the via, oblivious of the many landmines set earlier that morning, to the offload area at our house.

More mighty hands shouldered the accoutrements of every day life…chairs, lamps, tables, clothes, a wooden leg from something, and countless incredibly heavy boxes of books…books…books…more books. Someone once sardonically asked me, “Have you read them all?” My Churchillian answer was that I’ve read at least a few pages of all, and shall get to the rest in good time. Upon hearning this anecdote, more than one of the moving team retorted something to the effect of, “You’d better!!!” between gritted teeth and bent pained backs.


Finally, it was all over. the LKW driver looked somewhat astounded that the container was empty, and in less than 90-minutes! He chatted abit with one of our team and then, in a flash, had driven off to his next assignment. The  cows along the path to Pinswangs main thoroughfare remained seemingly nonplussed by the entire event, but I am certain that any collective angst they may have harbored about a ride to the Schlachthaus was happily allayed as the Chinese container rumbled by with nary an Aufwiedersehen.

A quiet descended over our village, even the many birds nearby ventured nary a sound. No more were the tractors chugging, grunting schachtel haulers straining under the weight of  the collected works of Goethe, no more LKW airbrake flatulence..indeed, there was no more container…no more moving…everything had arrived and had a place to stay for the time being.  The unpacking…well, that would come later. For now, in perfect Austrian form, it was time to eat.

All the tables we had that were not shipped over were moved into a line on the deck of the house. Some rickety, some hardly held together by a few 19th century nails, all weathered by years of harsh changes of climate…especially the heavily snowed bitter Winters and drearily soggy Summers. Still, with a heavy helping of sausages, freshly baked breads of many types, homemade cakes courtesy of a couple of our victorious moving team, family-brewed beer…ahhh, this is what the entire evolution was all about.

At one point in the meal, I rose with glass in hand to thank those assembled at the table for all of their very hard work and generosity in getting us through the day of the container. In the best German I could muster, I  told them just how much Susi and I appreciated their time, their efforts and mostly, their friendship.

Suddenly, they applauded…I wasn’t ready for that. They had done all the work…they had taken the time away from their holidays or regular routine…the difficult toil in the fields, at home, office, or at the nearby machine tool factory and electric company. They were there that crisp gray Summer morning not just to bake cakes, provide logistical and moral support, share a meal…no…they were all there to welcome home the newest residents of Pinswang. It was a priceless gift to be forever cherished.



  1. What a wonderful moving-in day. You are blessed to have such neighbors! But who wouldn’t do anything for the wonderful, beautiful Susi!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing with us!

  3. Hi global wonderers. Linda and I enjoy your articles Andy. We both enjoyed the photos of your moving in, ahh the last move. I hope you have fond memories of it and that it signifies a more permenant home than the Navy offered.
    Linda and I are looking ahead for a time to come to your new home, if the door is open!

    Love, your retired Navy friends from Savoy, Mike/Linda B./

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