Finding Comfort by Walking in My Local Forest
I used to walk through the woods near my home in Ljubljana even before the pandemic. But during lockdown my local forest became my sanctuary.By Marijana PODHRAŠKI
If anything, Slovenia is no short of woods. When I was a child and way before the internet, our local forest was my playground. In those days, us the kids used to build all sorts of secret shelters in the woods, then hide inside them from imaginary enemies and the evil monsters we were told about. The forest gods were kind to us, allowing us a plunge into the forest magic, gifting us with memories to hold on to forever.
All forests have their own personality. The one near my home is a vast friendly woodland which takes you up to a hill called Rožnik or Cankar Hill. At the foot of the hill the water slowly flows towards the plains, and it smells of wet tree trunks and fragrant nature. It is an open arms place that embraces everyone who comes in peace.
But not all the forests are bright, I have learnt during some of my travels. Some are dry and dense, so not much light comes in. They speak to you differently; you could swear they even whisper behind your back. Then again, some are never ending and mysterious, and though tempted you choose to stay away.
I keep coming back to my local woods. Stepping into the world of sessile oaks, scots pine, sweet chestnut and beech trees empowers me. Step by step. The footpaths in the forest assure me there are other people walking here, clearing their heads, seeking beauty and relief just like I am. In this ancient woodland time doesn’t matter.
Many come here for some exercise. In the times of the global pandemic my forest helps me to keep my mental as well as my physical health intact. Here, I observe the seasons change, the leaves fall and grow back, from green to mud, the blue skies and running squirrels in the distance. Privilege.