We’re late, but I’ve got nowhere to be. Planning on staying at a youth hostel tonight, maybe next two nights, as I explore the Black Forest. Reminds me of some mysterious forest in a fantasy novel—take your pick. But this ain’t exaggeration. As the bus trundles through uneven hills, forest spreading out on either side of the highway like gateways to some prehistoric scene of nature, one must remember these trees inspired the Brothers Grimm to pen blood-splattered fairy tales. Here, where Hansel and Gretel wandered into the woods and got cooked alive in a witch’s easy-bake oven. Here, where Little Red Riding Hood got disemboweled by a wolf that appeared very little like Johnny Depp.
Look out the window and it’s like a million Christmas trees sprang up in every direction, Christmas trees God forgot to cut down, so they kept growing, growing, growing until they’re towering high above snow-laden villages. Here, a church burdened by downy white. Or someone’s snow shoveled into piles, the un-melted snow mixed with dirt and resulting in brown sludge. Everything’s melting now, the sun like the lamp in a dentist’s office, peering down at us from the ether of storm-gray clouds. And before us, the hills only larger—you could start calling them mountains, depending on your definition.
Pass a village, the red-clay roofs outfitted with solar panels. Medieval meets modern, ancient meets updated. But here, you feel something preternatural, something magical maybe that causes the trees to space themselves so evenly apart.
Once you get the lay of the land, everything’s sprawled out underneath you. You’re sliding through the sky, an angel or anything more sinister. The whole world’s white and smooth as glass. Then you’re back in thick of it again, forests enclosing around you like a tunnel.
If you peer through their entwined branches, you begin to see the forest and then only darkness. You see little patches of light, the snow ablaze like goblin’s silver, but then nothing. Then just a quiet, blank space. Then just a shrouded secret.