There is a significant difference between summer and winter in Austria. And in summer, every plant goes mad. Something that was basically a grotty patch of mud two weeks previous can unexpectedly bloom a veritable forest of green and colour. It’s amazing to see.
But with all this green growth also comes the most evil plant of all. Brennessel is the German name. You’ll know it as stinging nettle, or more colloquially as ‘stingers’. Or maybe that’s just me. In our small town in summer some parts of the countryside literally turn into mini stinger cities. Without trousers some paths become no-go zones unless you want to feel the burning, stinging pain down your legs for the rest of the day.
And I don’t know if it’s just me, or if I never really experienced the nasty sensation before, but these stingers are brutal! After a recent run, I could still feel the burn on my knee the day after. It’s quite common in winter that I have to alter my running route because it’s too muddy. You would think that in summer it would be good to go anywhere. And the heat of summer is exactly when you want for running through the coolness of the forest.
Because that’s exactly when the stingers grow from either side of the path and weave together in the middle. They lay in wait, ready to leap out and whip your legs. Sometimes I grit my teeth and plough through and sometimes I turn around and pick a different route… hateful plants.
And they mock me, too. For example, I might spot a delicious crop of raspberries peeking shyly through foliage… bright pink, succulent beauties… I reach my hand through, mouth watering, only to have it slapped back by a New York City skyline of stingers, their fronds turning over to the ugly side as they sneer and snigger about how stupid I am.
Of course being in Austria, everyone can’t wait to tell you that stingers can be crushed into hot water for a tea that heals all kinds of ailments. But I can tell you one thing for sure, I will never intentionally go near a stinger. And I’d think twice about drinking it, even if someone else made it for me.
I probably should just… toughen up princess… but… come on… ouchies!