Thursday, 14 April 2016

biotop oder flyover

With nice weather and reckoned sufficient time, I (possibly impulsively) decided to meet a couple of colleagues for dinner in Mainz under my own power and set out crossing the Rhein on foot from the Hessen capital of Wiesbaden to the adjacent capital of Rheinland-Pfalz. It’s a funny and persistent syndrome that’s mostly not been a disservice, but trying to imagine distances in my head are without fail translated to something much smaller, a sandbox that one can just dart from one corner to another without any investment of time and energy.

It always ends well, in any case, and I was treated to vistas that one could not appreciate at higher speeds, certainly not from the passenger seat of a car, and the islands of industry and the contemplative lagoons at rest and the green verge that buffered the city from the shore. I knew the general direction but away from the clearly marked path, I had a clever application in my pocket that gave me a nudge if I was marching in the opposite directly but did not reign in my exploration overmuch. Truly away from the roads and taking the most direct routes, given my mode of transportation, I was astounded to find myself hiking through a really amazing and unexpected nature reserve just above the river’s floodplain—unseen but infinitely more interesting than some fallow-field of highway median.
I found myself in a landscape of sand dunes (der Mainzer Großer Sand), whose pronounced topography did not present a struggle but was distinctly not flat, the sort of geometry one grows unaccustomed to along more manicured trails.
This ancient environment was host to tall cypress trees and other flora that belonged in more Mediterranean climes, owing to the fact that although nutrient poor, sand was far better at holding heat.  Approaching the boroughs of Mombach and Gonsenheim, the dunes made the transition into a great forest, only gently interrupted with a few paths, that is the largest contiguous one in the region at seven square-kilometers, a wood of some eighteen-hundred acres. Despite being often turned around and stopping to marvel at the landscape, I still made it on time but with none to spare.