It’s fall in Franconia. The sun comes up around 7am and it gets dark around 5pm. I don’t know how people in more northern countries do it– Less than 12 hours of daylight is tough. The fall color here is in full swing. We don’t have the reds of the Maples like the US but we have the beautiful yellow and orange hues of the Beech and the Oak. The white peeling bark of the Birch and the dark moist bark of the conifers. The forest is full of stands of these trees and creeks meandering here and there. In the late afternoon it’s not too cold yet, so you can hike around and watch the mist settle into the valleys. It’s a perfect time to be an explorer for people of all ages.
Last night we had one of these hikes with some friends and their children. It was lovely because the boys could run ahead and play or take their time exploring some natural spring or take a longer route and meet us at the bottom of a ravine.
From my new nine-year old pal, I learned this trick to avoid getting lost in the woods: Fold up a leaf a specific way, and then tear it and and throw the pieces on the path–then you can look for your leaves as your trail markers–unless its very windy of course…Nevertheless, nine-year olds talk really fast, so I had to stay focused to be sure what he was saying. Luckily he used the leaves as props so that gave me a leg up!
As we walked it started to get dark and I was struck about the fact that even though we were less than a mile from our neighborhood there was no light. If we got stuck out after dark or took to long to find our way back, we might really get lost.
By 8pm it was time to go, totally dark outside and a school night for all of us!