We spend the morning driving though the stunning Vosges forest of Alsace-Lorraine. They’re very reminiscent of Scandinavia’s tall growth forests full of beech, larch and spruce. There are places I feel most at peace. Over numerous travels, I’ve whittled it down to a short list: forests, mountains (despite my terror of narrow winding roads) and by water, especially fresh water. Basically being on top of a mountain, surrounded by forest near a running stream is my idea of bliss.
These forests are allegedly full of creatures. There are inumerable signs for deer and lots of wild boar decorations in the villages we pass, but our only sighting is a tiny wee dot of a fawn, hiding in plain view at the edge of a forest. Much happiness at spotting her, despite Chris refusing to stop so that I could adopt her and offer her a bottle of milk. Selfish.
By mid afternoon we arrive in Saint Quirin, a place of pilgrimage, known for its waters of healing properties.
Especially for skin conditions – that’s very specific, isn’t it? The water comes from this stream that runs straight through the village.
It has of course another fabulous church,
and another, more ancient, on high but I couldn’t talk Chris into hiking up. Sitting outside, contemplating his future is this young man,
but despite happily accepting an ear scratch, he looks despondent about his life’s choices.
The town is prettily decorated with recycled art works and proudly notes that it’s completely pesticide free.
Going one step further, there are bug hotels set up, both large
– these are very popular in France, acknowledging the good works our buggy friends do for the environment. It’s really interesting to the difference these small changes make – the village is full of life. In the short walk though, we see half a dozen varieties of butterflies, many types of bees, a hummingbird moth (sadly too fast to photograph) and even an enormous hornet.
We stay nearby, on the lake. I shimmy up the mountain, into the forest,
in the hope of seeing wildlife, but only encounter these fat beetles, holding a conference on the best way to preserve fallen fruit.
I have more luck by the lake, where I see not one, not two, or three, but four silver fish leap out of the water.
Later at night, the sky is awe inspiring. Mars hangs low in the sky, a dull red orb, the stars are infinite against an inky night. The Milky Way is faintly visible too. Stillness reigns, the only movement being orbiting satellites.