The forest primeval

Posted: July 11, 2014 in Nature, Quotes, Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline

The France most people know is that of the south:  pastel homes and shutters, chèvre, Provencal linens, the Mediterranean; theglamorous France of movies.  The France we’re visiting is the France of stone houses, forests, cows and their cheese; of a difficult existence gained through hard work.  We’re near Mélisey,  (; 1(74)

Europe is in the grip of rainy weather as we arrive, but we manage a walk during a break in the rain.  It seems to be still raining, but it’s simply water dripping from trees and plants.

The perfect companion

The perfect companion

The path (road) beckons.  The only sounds we hear besides the rain are the sounds of birds and insects.  The forest is completely peaceful, even though we know animals are everywhere, even wild boar.  I’d rather not come across one of those while walking, although if one walked by at the bottom of the yard, as happened once before, I would enjoy seeing it from the safely of the house.

photo 2(73)

The forest here is similar in many ways to a rain forest and although fire was a consideration earlier in the summer, now there is plenty of rain.  The moss thrives.  There’s a feel of Tolkien or Lewis in the silent, verdant growth and in the stones littered everywhere.  You can feel the Celtic influences here and a certain fey-ness in the air at times.  Eking out a farming existence here is difficult due to thick growth, rocks left from glaciers and thin soil.

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Mushrooms, raspberries and blackberries grow nearby.  The dogs love raspberries and compete with their humans for the ripe ones. Several of the dogs are more discriminating than others, dexterously eating on the ripe berries, while at least one indiscriminately grabs berry, leaves and stem, then spits them out.  The lovely ceramic or glass pots that we get yogurt in work perfectly for filling with the small, sweet berries. Flowers brighten the area that’s crammed with ferns and all sorts of (mostly) green growing things.  Not far along the road, we see beehives and, stopping, hear the sound of thousands of humming bees.

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Across from the hives we find a gigantic ant hill, about 2 – 2 1/2 feet tall and quite wide.  Ants are vital to the forest life and are protected.

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There are a few more days of rain in the forecast.  No chance of the moss drying out for some time.

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 If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer.  But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. 

~Henry David Thoreau



  1. M-R says:

    Lovely, Janet ! Aren’t those antnests amazing ? – they don’t look like any others I’ve ever seen. I can scarcely imagine the industry of them all, building such huge things …
    We had weather just like that you write of, when in Pontaubert …

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    I am thinking of you standing along the roadside in the rain as the peleton rushes past. Lovely post.



    • We’re hoping that the rain will have stopped by Monday and, if things go as planned, we’ll be at the finish area, where no one will rushing at all. They’ll all be too exhausted! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post, Doug.


  3. Jan Morrill says:

    A perfect blog post to start my day. I love forests like this, and your descriptions and photos put me right there. Lucky you, to be a loafer while in France. (Excellent quotes, too!)

    • Jan, so happy I could start your day off well. We’ve been having a lovely time and doing some loafing, although much the busy loafing of seeing things.


  4. Some places really look as if you are the first who is there :o) sadly the weather offers a wet Bastille Day, there are dark clouds over the channel :o(

    • We were in Beaune today and it wasn’t raining there, although completely clouded. I’m hoping for that for Monday. Don’t want to stand out in the rain for six hours or so waiting for all the riders to finish! 🙂


  5. Wow, you’re right, not my image of France at all. Lovely photos.

  6. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Lush greenery everywhere you look—a definite contrast to the brown hills of Northern California outside my windows. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and enjoy your trip.

    • Allan, thanks for stopping by. I just saw some photos of California today and I wish we could send some rain. We’re having a great time, despite the rain.


  7. Pat says:

    Absolutely stunning images, quotes and commentary.

    I shall settle back and enjoy your trip with you!

    Salut! A votre santé!

  8. Mara Eastern says:

    I like the forest, but I love your choice of the quotes. Very fitting! 🙂