German forests are so storybook. It’s no wonder that all of the fairytales were written here. What is the scenario, chicken and egg wise? Did the writers who had access to these forests naturally get back from a walk on a particularly overcast day, the wind whisting their hair this way and that, the sky hurling big wooden barrels of thunder over the side to trundle down the street after them, just making it before the first twenty spats of rain spat at the backs of their necks as they reached their large wooden doors, to sit down and write Hanzel and Gretel? Or did Hanzel and Gretel just happen to get lost in some pines, and tall trees that hug the paths, and make every new direction look like a dangerous way to go, and that’s why these forests seem like the places where witches with people sized ovens might lurk? It could go either way. And I’m not going to look it up, because I prefer not to know. Also, I think Kate Forsyth just wrote about the Bros. Grimm, and the young woman who was their muse for their most famous book of stories. So I’ll just read that.

Australian bush (why don’t we call it forest?) is just as scary. And during the day, as well as the night. The scraps and litter on the floor pile up until you don’t know what you’re standing on. The gums are lighter in colour, so your view might be grey and confusing as far as you can see, with perhaps the slightest spattering of green if the time of year is right. The noise is overwhelming – the lack of it, that is. It is still, and the animals only call to each other from the air, and not the ground. There are no woodpeckers, just the occasional flapping of wings from behind you, a bird that’s gone before you turn around. You can’t see very far in front of you, and you can’t see gullies and ridges well before you’re upon them. The dirt in a forest is dark brown and soft – in Australia, everything is the same colour, and the dirt is compacted. Gum leaves are easy to slip on. And there is always the threat of being lost, and dehydrating. Always the threat of having no water. Whether it’s true or not – you aren’t allowed to think otherwise.

Nevertheless, I think forests are scarier. Whether that’s because I grew up thinking that or not, I don’t know. I saw a pantomime of Peter and the Wolf when I was younger, at the town hall. That was pretty convincing. In the actual forest, I don’t have any orchestra music to tell me how I should feel at any given moment.

I am pleased to find that what I needed, to get out of the pit of weight and depression that I was in a week ago, was to get out of London and into a small town. I am so much more comfortable here, and especially with friends. Rowan and Mel have given us a room, and the use of their house. And we get to play with Emily, who is wonderful. I love being at Ro and Mel’s – they’re my favourite friends that are a couple. They have the same sense of humour that we do, which always makes such a difference. And they are kind.

I think that, at first, they were a bit uncomfortable with having us here – not uncomfortable, but stressed. And not because they didn’t want us here, but Rowan is living in a country where no one speaks his first language, has an 18 month old, and no one to really talk to about it. (Mel does too, but she seems a little less stressed – no offence, Ro.) Rowan speaks great German, but it’s got to take its toll nevertheless; a full time job; thinking of moving, and therefore thinking of money. It must all combine to be pretty heavy on his shoulders. I think that he has become a little lighter, a little more able to deal with us, in this last week. We’ve been cooking meals, etc, and hopefully it makes it a little better. Mel is run off her feet, but she expresses things in a very different way to Rowan. They’re pretty much like us, but in a different language. I probably identify with Rowan as a personality style more, but we set each other off if we’re not careful. Andy is more easy going – so is Mel. I am glad Ro met her. She’s just great to be around. It ‘s really helped me settle.

I am pleased to find that Rowan and Mel fight in the same pattern as we do! I’m sure they won’t mind me making fun, if I also make fun of us, too. We’re terrible. We misunderstand each other and call each other names. It’s always good (and bad, and uncomfortable) to see other couples’ real fights – the ones in which they can’t control themselves, and make themselves nice for the visitors. It was almost funny hearing them fight this afternoon – I was sitting two feet away from Mel, so I had a ringside seat. It’s not funny, but I am sure that they would be relieved to know, as well as us, that couples like us have the same fights, and it’s nothing particular to them. I could see every button that was being pushed, every mistake, and I could apply it to what I should and should not do.

Off to a BBQ (Grillen) at a friend’s house.

















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