>The 6th of December is St. Nicholas’ Day, and that means Krampus is out and about. The Krampus is actually a devil who accompanies the good saint on his rounds — good children get a nice present from Nicholas, and naughty children just might get a switching from the devil (which is the Alpine equivalent of a lump of coal in your stocking, and probably occurs just as often, meaning never.) On the evening of the 5th, some regions have a Krampuslauf, a sort of “running of the devils”, where at least a dozen of them show up with their giant cowbells, drums and smoke, and do a sort of pagan dance for the kids.
It is traditional that the Krampus figure wear some sort of animal pelts or straw, and carved wooden masks with real animal horns. Many of these masks have been passed down through generations, although these days one occasionally sees rubber store-bought masks, especially on the teenage devils who roam the streets looking for juvenile victims and pretty girls to bother. Although, in those suits with those oversized cowbells on their butts, it’s impossible to sneak up on anyone.

>”St. Nicholas Dive” in Bavaria

My beau and I took part in a dive in Starnberger See last weekend, in which I got to try out a dry suit in the cold, cold lake. The water was 5° Celsius, the weather was crappy, my face and hands (in neoprene gloves) were numb from the cold, but you know what, I had a great time. I managed a 20 minute look-around (there is really nothing there but sand and grass, and a few stumps), before emerging and being treated to hot Glühwein, Grillwürstchen and good company.
One particular thing which I enjoy about diving; once I’m underwater, I forget about everything else that’s going on in my life. I begin to live completely in the moment, and as I’m still a novice diver, being underwater becomes a real test of second-by-second concentration: steady breathing, maintaining a stable buoyancy, pressure equalization, not kicking up sediment, responding to my buddy, steady breathing, maintaining a stable buoyancy, pressure equalization, not kicking up sediment….it’s still an endless cycle of “working at it” for me, of high concentration. My beau, a much more experienced diver, compares this living-in-the-moment to the “flow” in which one finds oneself during an exceptionally beautiful passage of music. It’s a bliss, a euphoria, a way of feeling at one with yourself and with the world. That’s him in the photo, on the right. He’s just been made Divemaster, and I am very proud of him!