Raining for three days non-stop in Salzburg has its advantages. Trees and grass lap it up, wildlife enjoys fresh showers and it altogether feels like I am walking through a Yakushima rainforest every time I step outside my door.
However, a little flurry of panic ran through this usually slow-paced provincial Austrian town today. The Salzach river that splits the town into two halves has risen sharply and overflowed onto cycle paths and walkways at further up town in the suburbs.
"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong". As I watched a whole tree with its roots, being carried away by muddy waters, I really understood what Tzu was saying.
People silently walked across the soaking bridge, their eyes wide and alert, like animals caught in headlights. Too preoccupied with the rising river level and gathering crowd, we kept crashing into each other. Couples, usually distracted, now, arm in arm, water-proofed bodies close, sharing sights in hushed whispers.
Walking to the edge of the jetty with a crowd of umbrella-ed pedestrians, we looked somewhat miserably at a footpath usually covered with blooming daisies, now awash with dirty river detritus. The 'Diamond of Austria' was looking decidedly different from its usual summer scene.
Too cold to stay for long, I headed back, each time stopping to see how close the swirling rapids kept lapping up, so dangerously close to iron barriers, usually high above the Salzach`s forceful waters.
Back on higher ground, near the mountain, I´m assured that the level will subside and drink warm tea. A moment later I receive a call from England. Bright sunshine, sunburn and plants drying up. What`s happening? Usually the other way round, I´m calling Britain reporting on amazing Spring days with endless blue sky stretching on till dusk.
This year, I´m told, the jet stream is lingering over Austria. Last summer over UK, now we are suffering a similar fate. Apparently it has something to do with the ice caps melting and "the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream" so instead of the jet stream being over Greenland as it should be this time of year, its position has changed and now it`s over Austria and central Europe. These days 'The Age of Stupid' keeps playing in my mind. We are at a point where we know what we need to change, yet with our structures so rigid that change seems to happen only in slow and small increments. However, if, those that are bringing about change "amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops"? (Mitchell:2004). Influencing through soft, yielding fluid measures, will overcome structures that are rigid, hard and seemingly immovable.