A furnace of hot yellow in the beech forest

Why is it that every autumn seems to be more brilliant than the last?  Or is the intensity I’m seeing in colours this year thanks to an effort to look at the world at a slower pace?

Germany Kaiserslautern forest naturpark pfälzer waldTaking off for a weekend just the two of us to a spot in the middle of a beech forest might have something to do with it.  We boarded an ICE train in Hamburg late Friday afternoon bound for a weekend in Kaiserslautern, arriving at our hotel close to midnight after a short taxi ride.  If the journey was merely a black tunnel slashed with fleeting smudges of white and grey as the train fled south through the German countryside, the sight which greeted us from our first-floor window the next morning made up for it:  A woman walking four draught horses across a field, their breath puffing in the morning mist, splashes of yellow in the wet grass.

Out the door and down a path after breakfast, within minutes we were surrounded in the intense yellow of the beech forest.

germany kaiserslautern beech forest walk

The forest near Kaiserslautern is part of the Naturpark Pfälzer Wald, and forms the largest area of continuous forest in Germany.  Though we were only minutes from the border of a small city and from the lookout tower could see a German Premier League and 2006 World Cup soccer stadium, we walked as if the still of the path had been reserved in advance for us alone.

Germany Kaiserslautern Naturpark Pfälzer Wald beech forest floor and sky

Though every corner brought a new combination of colour as the beech gave way to larch, European and American oak and evergreen pine, what struck me the most was its clear floor and general uniformity.  On the west coast of Canada the underbrush is so thick you can’t see  to either side of the path, while in Eastern Canada the greens, yellows, browns and reds of the dying maple leaves turns the forest into a jumble of hue.  Here the forest floor is a flat carpet of brown beech leaves, the sky above yellow.

Germany Kaiserslautern Naturpark Pfälzer Wald  old stone tower

Germany Kaiserslautern Naturpark Pfälzer Wald view from old stone tower

We had to go into the city only once, and were glad we did, because its surprisingly unattractive, charmless streets  made us want to return to the beauty of the forest that much sooner.   We’d never have gone to Kaiserlautern had we not been invited to a friend’s birthday party, and it’s lucky for us she chose to hold it at Bremerhof,  where we stayed.  I can’t stay right now whether we’ll go there next fall to enjoy the forest all over over again, but it would sure be worth it.

15 Responses to “A furnace of hot yellow in the beech forest”

  1. November 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Your photographies are beautiful.

  2. November 3, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I have to agree–falls keep getting better and better, and I think this fall is exceptionally brilliant down in my neck of the Wald.

  3. November 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Simply gorgeous! Especially love the one with the sunlight filtering through the trees.

  4. November 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Gorgeous shots. They look like stills from a movie.

  5. 5 bigappletobigbear
    November 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I enjoyed reading your description and the way you enjoy the forest for what it is. I’m still not over missing the brilliants hues and reds of my native land and I need to practice enjoying the intense yellows I have seen here and in NRW for themselves.

    • November 3, 2009 at 11:21 pm

      If you liked these fall photos, in a couple of days I’ll have a few more up from around Hamburg. There are a few trees just outside our window at work that are impossibly red right now. Imported maples.

  6. 7 writechic
    November 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    These are beautiful! Here in Birmingham the maples were a burning red-orange this week…an amazing sight in sunlight. The hills are a patchwork of gold, red, brown and green (pine). I love this time of year.🙂

  7. November 4, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Great pictures. Yes, a truly fantastic autumn. We live in a pretty green (well, yellow now) area and it’s been breathtaking to watch the leaves come down – many beech trees in our neighbourhood. My favourite part is collecting the beech nuts that fall before the leaves do. My mother-in-law tells me they used them on cakes instead of almonds after the war when food was scarce.

    • November 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm

      Mine too! My mother-in-law says they used to grind the nuts up to use for oil. There just wasn’t anything else. One day ages ago we gathered up a bunch of them and cracked them open to try. They’re good! We didn’t see any nuts down there though – just the empty hulls. I guess the birds beat us to them.

  8. November 5, 2009 at 3:20 am

    So beautiful. I miss the seasons and the colors of autumn. It’s part of the price we pay for our more temperate climate.

    The beeches remind me of the mountain aspen in the American West. I enjoy so much looking at them combined with the junipers and pines.

  9. November 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

    I am trapped in Jacksonville, FL. I love looking at pictures like this because I can actually see myself in them. I have ALOT of family in Germany but I couldn’t tell you where and even if I could I probably couldn’t spell it or pronounce it. Anyways, absolutely beautiful photos!

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