A train to the end of the U-Bahn line, plus one additional 10 minute bus, and I was in Spandauer Forst, Berlin, for the weekend where I stayed in a tiny house. In this piece I recount my musings from the forest centre, and my encounter with its inhabitants.
People don’t smile much here. Within the vast towering trees, on the sprawling paths of the forest, I ask for reassurance of safety with my eyes. The most I get back is acknowledgment. I wonder if it’s because they know I don’t belong here. I wonder if I have ventured too far away from the Berlin bubble. I wonder if it’s because of the colour of my skin. Still, I persist along the waldweg, going deeper into the forest.
I spot a plastic bag stuck on a tree, blowing in the wind. Not unlike it, I might not belong here but I have attached myself somehow. And if one was to try to loosen me from the bark, it would at least take some time. I like it here. Yes, I like it here. I want my own patch of forest, I want my own corner to breathe its air.
I realise things don’t matter as much here, the distant politics of life in Berlin, looming to-do lists at work, none seem as tangible as the chunky fallen tree I now perch upon, the rich smell of moss and clean air, the silence (but for the birds) that seems to cleanse me.
I have seen one other person walking alone here. People walk in twos and threes and fours and with dog. I tell myself that if there is two or more people I don’t need to worry, and also that someone who likes dogs won’t cause me harm. The delusion is enough for my short time there.
I want, I realise, to be enveloped by this forest, for its breath to lift me up in a swirling motion and so I head off track at the sight of another chunky fallen tree which looks like a good station to sit, eat and write–and reply to some whatsapps.
I am mid reading when I hear a sound, it is not one I recognise, it is not the sound of bicycle tires, or the thumping feet of joggers, it is not the hum of bees or wasps. It’s a shuffling of leaves, the crackling of small sticks.
And though everything here drowned in green, I realise there is a browny orange colour that exists alongside the tall bark. There are 8 deer congregated before me. A couple running to the left, a couple staring right at me, the others standing around waiting for a signal at what to do next.
I am breath-taken watching them move freely in their natural habitat but also drenched in fear. I dare not move and eventually they gallop off in a direction different to mine. I don’t feel safe but perhaps I am not meant to? I think to myself. It’s not my home, it’s theirs.
Stillness serves me well here. It allows the bees to pass me without harm, the deer too, and it stops the longing from ripping my chest open in its hourly protests. All external things happen around me, but I must be still and sure, like my new barky friends have taught me. I am not ungrateful to my silent friend Spandauer either. Though it doesn’t say much, we have now walked hours together, and I think we might be getting somewhere.
Musings from my time in Spandauer Forst. I stayed in this tiny house, which sleeps one. I arrived by the U7 line on the U-Bahn, taking it all the way until the end of the line, Spandau, then took the 130 bus towards Spandau, Waldkrankenhaus.