Year of Grace, Day 131. Bonn forest treasures

Yesterday’s walk through the forest and valley nearby — Venusberg and Melbtal — took my friend H and I and Yoshi the dog through unfamiliar territory: steeply sloped ravines at the sides and bottom of which lay enormous naturally felled trunks, casualties of past winters’ furious gales most likely. The springs have been amply fed by this winter’s generous rains and the flow in the gullies was steady and clear.

I am always on the lookout for flowers and fungi on these forest forays. By the roadside leading to the forest, a clump of tête-a-tête narcissus had fully opened. The snowdrops have already gone to seed, but the next wave of spring’s ephemerals are waking up: pale pink wind anemones at bud stage and a few periwinkles – such a gorgeous blue — have opened, enjoying their access to sunlight in a clearing.

On the way to the forest and back, we took a side road into a neighbourhood I’d never walked through before. A redbud tree (Cercis) was in its full glory, and an early rhododendron with magenta flowers in a front garden complemented blooming heather.

It was quite an adventure, and took us close to two hours, scrambling up and down the ravines, taking care not to slip down the steep slopes. Once, a massive felled tree trunk blocked the path —  it did not faze Yoshi the dog. It did me but I managed eventually. A thoroughly satisfying walk, quite challenging in parts, and I’m glad that my knees and thighs had been up to it. And of course, a walk through the forest with a best friend (not to forget Yoshi the dog), seeing the new crop of wild flowers coming up, is always pure pleasure. And such a rare treasure, for no two walks, even in the same forest, are ever the same.

Year of Grace, Day 61. Kottenforst via Melbtal

Yesterday was the third consecutively sunny day in Bonn in weeks – such a blessing – and a rare one at that — at this time of year, often rainy and dreary grey! A foray through Kottenforst, the nearby forest, passing through Melbtal was definitely in order.  A larch – that rare deciduous conifer — with its reddening leaves soon to turn yellow, was brilliant in the sun. I was blessed to uncover several fungi – beige, brown, and white – emerging from their thick camouflage of fallen leaves. Had they been certifiably edible, it would have been possible to make a regal feast out of them – they were enormous and succulent. However, since they were growing by the path and most likely fertilized by passing horses, not to mention dogs and other livestock, it was probably best not to consider them for the table.

Leaves are still on the trees and with the low autumn sun behind them, they were splendid! A walk through Kottenforst and Melbtal – at any season – never disappoints, and on a glorious autumn day like yesterday, a leisurely stroll through truly lifts the spirits.

For mild autumn days and invigorating sights, for the sounds of a woodpecker and birdsong in the woods, to walk through a colourful layer of fallen leaves and revel in their crisp crunchiness underfoot, to discover varied fungi – the crowning glory of every forest walk – I am overjoyed and deeply grateful.

Today began dark and dreary, but the sky is gradually turning a pale blue and the sun is shyly peeking in. A crow — perhaps the same one I’ve been seeing daily — is back on its perch on the Douglas fir; it might have a nest somewhere inside there. The birch has lost most of its golden leaves, but its bare branches form a lovely filigree against the sky and several birds — difficult to identify from this distance — made it a stopover point. A wren and a black tit are foraging among the rain-drenched needles of the yew. A kite, once again in search of prey, circles overhead, but the birds on the birch have gone and taken shelter elsewhere. In the diffused light of today’s cloudy sky, the Kerria’s yellow leaves and the contorted hazel’s orange ones seem to glow. I am blessed with these sights as I write and look out onto the back garden. Thank You!