Sunday, November 22, 2009

Der Philosophenweg

There's a hiking path across the river from the Old City called "The Philosopher's Way." Part of it weaves through gardens and orchards and gives great views of the castle and the city. Part of it dives into the forest, with tall, tall trees and little undergrowth . . .

It starts out on a winding alley, called the Snake Path, going up, up, up the side of the hill.

Mounds of moss are magical woodland worlds in miniature.

At the tail end of autumn, the path is littered with leaves. Night falls quickly, and within just a few minutes we were plunged into darkness amidst the trees. Suddenly it felt as if we could be in any century - there were no lights, no sound. It was easy then to understand why people once venerated and feared the forest, why they told stories of beasts and horrors creeping out from it, why the glow of a village could be so comforting. This was the first time I felt that the "Old World" felt really, really old. This hadn't happened while looking at ruins or old city walls. Instead, I felt it in the forest, in something that has evoked fear, awe, and worship for time out of mind.

Thankfully, there was some respite from the darkness - there's a small vineyard at the end of one path. Here, in the clearing, we could see the old city in the valley below.


Marian said...

I had the same thing when I visited the Black Forest - the sudden sense of unchangingness in time, of being utterly at the mercy of something that could flick you off like a flea - and was quite alarmed. And it wasn't even nighttime! It certainly makes Hansel and Gretel several shades darker, not that that story really needs the help. I don't know if you remember the early parts in "Kristin Lavransdatter" where Kristin meets the Dwarf-maiden, and her father cautions his men about talking too freely in the woods because "someone else" may be listening, but ... brrrrrr.

On a more positive note, Happy Thanksgiving! Are you skipping it or do the Americans have their own little one there? We're still getting settled in Seattle (lots and lots of boxes still to unpack) but we got the kitchen stuff unpacked and that's the main thing :).

Marianevans said...

Brrr indeed - and yet, sort of a nice reminder of our fellowship with our ancestors.

Let me know your address when you get a chance to breathe! I'm excited for your new adventure!

And Happy Thanksgiving! We're doing a little potluck here, but our German friends have curious ideas about what should be on the list of dishes, e.g. pumpkin soup, banana bread, and chocolate cake...