My first memory is standing next to the Niagara Falls. Though I was only two years old, the majestic sight, the incredible sound, the humid sensation and scent is forever imprinted in me. It was the first time I visited Canada, including many firsts the first time pouring maple syrup over pancakes, the first bitter yet sweet taste of cranberries, the first donut. I refused my first hamburger and only ate the fries. I was also horribly homesick and pretty heartbroken, as we had forgotten to bring my doll Mimi. It must have been quite a relief when, after four weeks, we finally went back home.
30 years later it is Canada that I call my home. I pour maple syrup on pretty much everything, eating hamburgers and donuts has lost its newish appeal and september is my favourite month mostly for the deliciously meditative state cranberry picking puts me in.
I gave birth to my son Elias in the Yukon and he is the one I would take with me to Europe. To my birthplace, Vienna.
You see, he will be two years old in June and it is time for his Austrian firsts eating
Kaiserschmarren (a desert which was once invented for the Emperor and is pretty much a big pancake ripped in pieces, served with applesauce. It’s eaten for lunch), taking a ride in a horse
carriage through the Inner City, strolling through the Royal Gardens (Monarchy got demolished about a 100 years ago and it was Montreal the last Austrian Empress went to for exile), taking a boat ride on the blue Danube, standing on the roof of the Saint Stephens Cathedral, spending a day sitting in the grass of the now so peaceful Tuerkenschanzpark (where the not so peaceful battles between Austria and Turkey once took place. Legend has it that after the defeat, the Turkish Army forgot its bags of coffee beans. They where found by a local businessman who roasted them and in
short order a whole city got addicted to caffeine. And Vienna became famous for its coffee), watching the white Lipizzaner Horses practice, reflecting in Freud’s Appartment, spending hours in a 150 year old coffeeshop, walking through the wine hills, dancing through the Vienna Woods.
But most important of all, Elias could play with his cousins, receive love from his grandparents,get hugged by his great grandmother, be spoiled by his aunts and uncles and realize what a wonderful warm feeling it is, to sit at a table with your relatives.
And maybe, just maybe, his first memory will be of visiting Europe.