The Black Forest.
Words and Photography by Joey Jensen
Our dear friend Joey Jensen is currently roaming around Europe with curious eyes and a smile bright enough to light his way through the dark woods. Snippets and updates of his time have had me daydreaming of scenes wild and new to my imagination. This is a reflection on his time walking the woods of the Black Forest in Germany, come for a walk with Joey in the woods.
“Here you lose track of time in ten minutes and the world in twenty.”
—Mark Twain on the Black Forest, The Tramp Abroad, 1880
Situated in Germany’s southwestern corner running along a neighbouring French and Swiss border sprawls some 6000km2 of wooded mountain ranges. Silvia Nigra as the Romans coined it or The Black Forest as we know it today in English, got its name from its fathomless darkness. The Black Forest is home to fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel and little red riding hood and said to be still haunted by folklorish creatures such as werewolves, witches and the devil himself. But even those who brush such superstition succumb to an unquestionable sinisterness in its woods.
The Romans constructed towns of luxury throughout the hills, tapping into thermal and mineral springs and establishing grand Roman baths for their superiors. Since then, the baths have been maintained over the centuries to host various nobles, queens and the like. Still today, over the summer months the forest draws many tourists to its ancient opulence and hedonists flock to the same stone baths where ancient Romans once did.
Another major part of the forests tourism and curious history is the craft and arguably the birthplace of the Cuckoo clock. During the long winters of the 17th century, farmers took to the tools and created eccentric, intricate, wooden-cogged clocks that came into high demand across Europe over the next century. Like many other great craftsmanships, the art was drowned out by mass reproduction and the mockingbird vanquished its genuine predecessor. Though still today, the locals practise what their ancestors had created and if you find yourself in any establishment on the hour, you are almost certain to get a jump from the cuckoos of a hand-carved clock.
Though all of its history between the woods, both modern and ancient, an infant in comparison to the woods them self. As always, there is a certain allure that only nature can produce and here you will pleasantly allow yourself to get lost following it.
The majick is between the towns, down alpine roads that lace through the ranges and further upon foot, up trails that lead you deeper. There the air is still and the forest silent, so much so that there is an initial overwhelming presence of solitude, a characteristic in its eerie charm. The remnants of ruins and old hotels stubbornly stand throughout and the churches leave their doors ajar for the those who care to enter. The sun is defused through the thick of infinite pine needles which cast a stained-green lustre under its shade and the forest floors are bedded with the velvet greens of moss.
Though the most enigmatic element in The Black Forest is the pine itself.
The sporadic rows of towering pine, each individually trim and straight and together chaotic in their density. They are immaculate in their own disorder and they stand tall and haunting, concealing the space beneath them from the outside world. It’s under the silent limbs of the pines in The Black Forest that you begin to question your solitude and the brute, beast, witch, spirit and devil don’t seem so fictitious after all.