A farmer's inn located in the northern part of Austria...
A blanket of white covered the world during the night. The sun shone in a cloudless sky, the snow sparkling diamond-like.
The only discordant note of the morning came from a flock of crows fussing at each other in a big bare-limbed tree next to the road.
It took a bit more than an hour to reach the small village perched on the bank of the river with chips of ice strewn where water met land. Thirty houses huddled together around the usual village square, faced by a few shops and stores with living spaces on the upper floors.
Each building, three stories high, had different facades in varied colors, the windowsills empty of the bright flower boxes that would fill them in the spring. Steep roofs shed the snow and Hausfrauen had already swept the streets in front of their homes.
A half dozen rowboats rested upside down on the block wall against the riverbank, nets hung to dry in the weak sun. They saw a small tavern with three unoccupied tables, so the foursome sat down and ordered Glühwein, the perfect drink for a cold morning.
They strolled upriver six or seven kilometers, enjoying the surroundings. Bill learned more about his companion every step of the way.