Saturday, 10 January 2015


H and I must make it a point to explore the extensive, almost primordial forests this year. Though not contiguous, unlike the ancient forests that must have covered the whole of Europe long ago and fossilised in the city named Pforzheim (from the Latin Porta Hercynia, the gateway to the Black Forest which must have extended without much interruption to the ends of the Earth) there is besides the Kellerwald, the Bavarian Wood plus reserves throughout the country, covering more than one third of the land. This protected space is not of course historic in range but does represent more wooded areas than Germany had a century ago. The majority of the forests in Germany are composed of beech and oak, which enjoy a certain reverence for the people, which does not outstrip conservancy with a unifying identity but rather went astride. The Teutoburg Forest was where Arminius (Hermann the Cherusker, the name of a street adjacent to where I stay in Wiesbaden) beat back Roman incursions and kept the land in a sense unconquered, and after the Napoleonic Wars that ultimately meant the demise of the Holy and Roman Empire of the German Nation, a towering monument to that battle was erected, facing down France to the west. The proving ground of the forest, where one if careless can still find himself irretrievably lost, was also an essential factor in for the Brothers Grimm whose folklore that was championed as German identity, those stories that were told by mothers to children generation after generation regardless of where frontiers were or who was in charge.
The mysterious and dangerous wood was the only place where good might triumph over evil, the brothers observed long after trees were considered as sacred markers but yet subconsciousness ones and that character was made a recurring one. In any case, I suppose Germany’s caretaking and conservation would have greatly impressed the warriors and the myth-makers as much as the environmentalists and important to acknowledge it as a part of one’s collective identity in all its aspects.