April 2019

-  In the Forest of Nieder-Roden  -

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Girls' night out. Five of us sat around Gabi's living room table, in the middle was a pile of hidden cards for our little memory game. It was my turn to pick one. “Tell me about your favourite place as a child," I read aloud and then looked around a bit indecisively. "Well, you seem to need a long time to think," Renate finally said. "Can't you think of anything? Or are there so many? – “On the contrary, actually only one," I replied hesitantly. "Well, then go ahead," Marita encouraged me to speak, the others nodded in agreement.

"Well, my favourite place as a child is the forest near the then 3,000 people strong 'village' Nieder-Roden, where I grew up," I began. "For someone from the Black Forest, for example, this forest would be nothing special. A mixed forest with pine trees, birches, oaks, beech trees, in between a few Christmas time looking trees, a few wide paths and many narrow forest thoroughfares, half overgrown with grass. But for me as a child this forest seemed huge and mysterious. Another world that began behind the fields and grew into the distance – into fairyland. I remember towering thin pines with swaying conifer crowns and mighty tree trunks with thick roots, dense foliage and dark undergrowth. In the small ditches along the path newts and amphibians crept and gleamed, at the edge of the forest there was a reed-covered lake called the 'goose lake' – it was exciting to see the many birds on its banks. My grandmother liked to take me to the forest, maybe because she was looking for company or because she knew I liked it there. We collected blueberries and blackberries in milk churns and crept through young plantations of fir trees to her secret place with a carpet of golden yellow chanterelles. 'Here under the roots in the moss,' she confided in me at the time in a soft voice, 'is the home of the little root children'. You won't believe me," I told my friends, "but I've been looking for them ever since when I pass mossy places in this forest. In vain, of course!” I laughed a bit embarrassed, but none found my thoughts strange. "Well," I continued in a melancholic mood, "first the lake was drained for the new industrial area, then the high forest was cleared, finally the motorway with its feeder roads was built, and 'my' forest was reduced to a patch about 800 metres wide and two kilometres long on one side of the roads.” Ohhs and Ahhs of all my friends followed as comments. I continued: “But every time I am in Nieder-Roden, I roam around there. Sometimes on foot, sometimes by bicycle. Sometimes I sit on a bench on the path, sometimes off into the moss. Sometimes I rest only briefly for a few deep breaths, sometimes I stay longer to think or not to think. I listen to the many-voiced, lively chirping of the forest birds and enjoy the unmistakable smell of sun, wood, fir, earth, moss and decaying leaves." – Again my friends reacted: "That's good!" "Really?" "All alone?" – "What I still find remarkable: in this forest I don't give a damn about motorway traffic. The roaring of the airplanes during the landing approach to Frankfurt, by the way, as well. I simply don't hear it. I think this forest can be as it likes, it always remains for me what it once was – an important part of my childhood universe, my very own fairytale forest." – "Wow, what a beautiful place you have to recall! Well, then I am wondering what I can tell you about now," said Monika and drew the next card from the stack.


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