|The man who loves trees gives us pause for thought|
Deep in the forest a tractor is blocking our way. A log is chained to the front, and a man in dungarees darts out from behind a tree as we wonder how on earth we are going to get past. He puts down his chainsaw, to ask where we are heading. His name is Hans, he was born in a nearby village, and spent his childhood growing up with the trees. He tells us they were planted in the 50’s when he was a boy. “People come here on holiday. But why would I ever need a holiday when I have all this? I am a lucky man.” We gaze up at the tall trees, at the light bursting through the upper branches, and agree that Hans is indeed a lucky man. He is at home in this peaceful place. We are so transient, just passing through as we have done for the last thousand kilometres, like the Roman soldiers who marched this route.
|Hans has watched the trees grow, they’re like a family to him|
Hans says he hopes we have sun. “But it’s all the same to nature. Sun rain, the trees like it all.” He places huge scuffed leather gloves down on my handlebars and together we gaze up the gravelled forest track at the hills that will fill our day. The gravel hills I normally hate, but recently mind less. Our encounters with the Romantic Road, which we ditched faster than an annoying boyfriend, were anything but romantic. The route was longer than advertised; we suspected towns were being surrepticiously added to the road for commercial gain, and it was all rather hard and unrewarding. The Via Claudia Augusta, on the other hand, has been our friend. We’ve happily travelled in the path of the Romans, sometimes on gravel, mostly on the road, usually uphill, but not excessively so for the last week.
Hans tells me he learnt his English in Glasgow and Oxford. He liked England but Germany, and this forest are his home. Today he is cutting down a sick tree. “I will move my tractor now, so you can finish your journey,” he says, shaking my hand and smiling sweetly. I am sorry to leave the clearing. The air is cool, the trees atmospheric, and even the children are quiet. But Hans has leapt into the red machine and pulls it off the road, waving us on. We weave around him and up the hill, looking for other pleasant distractions.
|Between the forests, dreamy green pastures lead on|