The Schnackler and the Koasabacha

A story from Kaiserbach valley in Kirchdorf in Tirol!

Figure on the Schnackler adventure trail in the Kaiserbach valley - St. Johann in Tirol region
A long time ago there was a young, happy shepherd who lived on the Griesener Alpe in the Kaiserbach valley, who was known as the ‘Schnackler’ to everyone. He got this nickname because he often clicked his tongue and snapped his fingers. In Tirol this is known as ‘Schnackeln’. When the Schnackler, all alone in his beloved mountains, gathered his sheep and goats, taking them across rocks, stones and snowy corries, his ‘Schnackeln’ could be heard even right down in the valley.

But one day the fun-loving Schnackler fell silent. Even his best friend Angelius, an Alpine herdsman from the Fischbachalm, noticed. ‘What's wrong with you?’, Angelius asked. The Schnackler sighed deeply. ‘Do you know’, for a while now Schnackeln hasn’t made me happy. People are constantly mimicking me. So I schnackle louder to drown out the others. But the louder I am, the louder some one else is. But I can’t see anyone. And five goats have disappeared from my herd too.’ Angelius pitied the Schnackler and gave him this advice: ‘Go to the dialect tree. Koasabacha lives there.

A merry goblin and nature spirit, who knows the Kaiserbach valley like the back of his hand. If anyone can help you it’s Koasabacha.’ The Schnackler didn’t need to be told twice and made his way to the dialect tree.

When he got there, he found Koasabacha straight away, who was diligently writing words on wooden boards that he then hung on the tree. As the Schnackler approached, he suddenly stood there frozen, because the Koasabacha … started to schnackeln. Off key, but the goblin was schnackeling! ‘Darn’, said the Schnackler in an angry voice. ‘You are the copy-cat!’ The goblin's cheeks reddened. ‘Indeed. Did you like it? I’m not bad, right?’ ‘Bad?’, exclaimed the Schnackler, ‘you sound like a croaking frog. And besides, I don’t like it when someone imitates me.’ The little goblin understood. With a sad voice he replied: ‘I liked your schnackeln so much that I wanted to learn how to do it. And you are often out and about in the mountains by yourself. I thought you would like it if you heard someone else, other than just yourself.’ ‘I like being alone’, scolded the Schnackler, ‘which is why I don’t need anyone else.’ All of a sudden the bushes moved and out hopped the five missing goats. ‘Lookie here’, said the Schnackler in even more of a temper, ‘you are not just imitating my schnackeling, you stole my goats!’ ‘You're wrong about me’, said Koasabacha defensively, with his head lowered. ‘Unlike you, I often feel lonely. That's why I have your goats and I hid them in the forest.’ This was too much for the Schnackler. ‘In future stop copying my schnackling and leave my heart of goats in peace.’ And with that, the Schnackler left the Koasabacha standing there and headed back to the Alpine pasture with his goats in tow. From that day there was no other schnackling to be heard and not one single goat disappeared from the herd. Yet as time went on, the Schnackler fell silent again because he felt strangely alone.

One day the Schnackler went up high into the misty mountains and schnackeled half-heartedly. Suddenly he lost his grip and feel over the sticks and stones. He lay there, seriously hurt. All of a sudden the Koasabacha appeared and took him down into the valley with him. He tended the Schnackler in his lodge and got him back to health using mountain pine and herbs, and, bit by bit, the two became friends. The Schnackler discovered that the Koasabacha nurtured and protected nature above all else, liked to have fun and brought happiness. That he liked to learn too and preferred to share his knowledge with others. That was why Koasabacha wrote Tirol dialect words on wooden panels on the dialect tree, to preserve them like treasure. He could also do magic and turned an earthworm emerald green. Shortly after that yellow slippers were suddenly standing in front of the Schnackler, who has lost his own in the fall. Well, they looked like yellow ladies slippers, but the Schnackler was delighted with them. A few days later he was able to stand up again, put on the cosy shoes and wanted to go and pick some Christmas roses to say thank-you to the Koasabacha. ‘Flowers ought to stay where they grow and that is what makes Christmas roses poisonous’, explained Koasabacha with a stern face. The Schnackler now understood that nature ought to be left the way it is found and then thought about how he could thank the Koasamandl. It came to him, he would teach him how to schnackel! And so it came that the two friends stood in the middle of the quiet forest and schnackeled together. A snap of the fingers, humming and flicking echoed again straight-away. The two friends recognised that they could learn from each other. One could schnackeln, the other knew so much about Mother Nature. Celebrating, they avowed to protect the Kaiserbach valley and beyond. Since then the Kaiserbach valley has been a special place. Incidentally, anyone who looks around carefully, might still see the shoes the Schnackler once wore. There is a yellow lady's slipper in the Kaiserbach valley, where the Schnackler once was. And anyone who is very lucky might even see the emerald green earthworm or the enchanted Christmas roses. And when you walk quietly through the forest, you might even hear the Schnackler and the Koasabacha and their happy schnackling.