The European forest, what a wonderful creature! A living being – breathing, growing, changing, dying, decaying as we watch. Berlin has amazing natural spaces.
There are few things I love more than walking through a forest in the late afternoon. The light as it slants through the trees conjures images in my mind of fairies and goblins and tales of yet unsung of heroes and princesses and the ultimate battle between good and evil. Or maybe that’s just my 13yr old memory of Tom Cruise in a a skirt fighting Goblins in that timeless film classic ‘Legend’?… Who knows. But what I do know is this.
An abundance of green
Berlin has an abundance of green spaces. Specifically the Grunewald, a vast forest in the western suburbs of Berlin with scattered lakes where you can easily swim in a heatwave like the one we’ve just had this year.
I grew up in South Australia which means the only forest I knew was very different. The colours are dark, almost olive green. The trees are mainly Eucalypts which never lose their leaves. They are tough and can withstand a long long drought and still survive. The underbrush is sparse and wiry and brown is the dominant feature. Think Mediterranean colours and temperatures. We were almost on the edge of the desert and in summer we had hot, hot winds that drew every last drop of moisture from the land (not to mention my juvenile lungs).
Europe taught me what green looked like
I remember starkly my first trip to Europe, alone, at the tender age of 21yrs. It was spring. I flew to Paris and immediately understood Ella Fitzgerald’s sultry tones singing about the beauty of April in Paris. It was a warm spring day and there were flowers everywhere. But more to my wonder was when I walked the gardens of Versailles – what green!!! I had never seen anything like it. Emerald, bright and lush, it was like nothing I’d ever laid eyes upon. For this green you need rain, and lots of it. Something my hometown never had. Tender, almost delicate leaves, nothing like the tough desert trees I knew. And that golden, afternoon light. Warm and soft, not scorching and too bright for the eyes. Slanting like a knife edge through the shadowy canopy above, Forming fingers of light so tangible it felt like you could bite into them and taste the warmth of the day just passing. And of course the deep shadows for the goblins, that’s important too.
There is something magical about the European forest. I understand the druids here, their reverence for this living system, and the dreams of mythical creatures. There is something otherworldly and ethereal, and in a soft way, welcoming. Take the time to walk in the forest. It’s an experience worth having here.