A lot of stairs. Watson walking in front of me. I’m close behind her, preventing her from falling down. We’re on our way to the top of the tower in Schloss Bruck, a medieval castle in the Austrian region Osttirol. Once we’re all the way up, we see mountains all around us. The town of Lienz on one side. Far away on the other side, on a green mountain slope, we recognise the farm of die Uroma. That’s where we’re staying this week. A beautiful and peaceful place with lots of space for Bowser and Watson to do whatever they’re in the mood for. They enjoy it very much here.
Watson is learning new skills at a ridiculous speed. A few months ago she couldn’t do much apart from walking unsteadily and talking unintelligibly. But now she can do so much more. And she’s showing off her skills all the time here in Osttirol. Like jumping. She could do that for a while already, but now she manages to do it with both feet really off the ground. She’s very happy about this. And deliberate farting in public. Also super funny. She makes a weird face, farts and starts laughing. I’m proud of her.
She also makes a lot of progress in talking. New words come out of her mouth every day. Not always very understandable, but when you listen carefully and show some patience, you’ll figure out what she means eventually. Also because she’s very clear in her body language. When she doesn’t agree with you – which is most of the time – she shakes her head, looks angrily at you and shouts “NEIN!”
Her favourite new word is ‘balf’, a Watson-language word for ‘self’. She thinks she’s big now, so she should be able to do everything herself.
“Shall I help you get dressed, Watson?”
So… a bit like that. Or actually exactly like that. All day long.
There are some things she can really do herself, like putting on her wellies. That’s why she keeps running around in them. Not the most practical footwear in some situations – like walking stairs in a castle – because her feet easily slip out of them. But as long as she’s satisfied, we’re not gonna interfere. Just imagine…
“Watson, let’s put on your normal shoes.”
“Okay, sorry. Here are your wellies.”
We spend a lot of time on and around the farm of die Uroma. So those wellies are in fact not such a bad choice. It’s nice here, in the mountainous countryside of Austria. Bowser and Watson help around at the farm: they dig potatoes and feed the chicken. They also enjoy the woods, where they look for stuff to eat: wild berries, plums, hazelnuts.
Watson eats about 20 plums per day. She also poops about 20 times a day. We tell her to cut back on the plum-devouring, but she gets angry and shouts “NEIN!” So we just let her be.
Bowser is very fond of all the hazelnuts. He collects a lot of them, sits himself down beside the farm rooster and opens the nuts with a rock. He explains to the rooster what he’s doing and tells the rooster to move aside because it’s quite dangerous to stand so near when Bowser has a huge rock in his hands. The rooster seems to understand and takes a step back. Bowser brings down the rock, opens a nut and gives half of it to the rooster. And so they sit together all day, sharing hazelnuts and stories.
When they’re done eating, they go for a swim in the ice cold mountain stream next to the house. Or they ride around on the scooter (Bowser) and tractor (Watson). Or they play with all the cool toys Daniel and Kathrin brought along. Remember Daniel and Kathrin? They went with us to the Pfänder and the Bregenzer Festspiele two years ago. Now they visit us in Osttirol, with their kid. So all the toys they brought, are actually the kid’s toys. But since he can’t walk yet, Bowser and Watson seem to profit most from it.
From the terrace of die Uroma’s house we see Schloss Bruck in Lienz. This castle was built in the 13th century and is now the home of an impressive museum full of art. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. We go there on our last day in Osttirol. Without Bowser, because he decides to drive back with his grandparents to Vorarlberg and have a sleepover there. Does that start now? That he doesn’t wanna spend time with his parents anymore?
Anyway, it’s nice to have some time for Watson alone. Normally, Bowser is always around and we have to divide our attention between the two of them. Now we can focus completely on Watson. That’s good, because we really need to. She’s not standing still for a moment. She runs around in the castle, wicked look in her eyes and giggling like she has some major master plan. I have to run after her, because the people working in the castle seem to be a bit worried that she’s gonna damage stuff. There are paintings and sculptures and other arty stuff. But I don’t really notice any of it. Too busy chasing Watson.
After our run through the castle, Watson is tired. I put her in the baby carrier on my back and walk up the hill to some restaurant for lunch. She falls asleep. Anna and I look at her. Such a sweet kid. We smile at each other. Like parents do when their kids are finally asleep.
And then she suddenly opens her eyes. She’s clearly not okay with this. She rather walks herself.
“Just close your eyes for a bit more, Watson. You’re tired. I can carry you.”