Michaela Merz

Lost in the forest (www.mapy.cz)

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It is summer, warm, in the evenings it is light until late. After almost 30 years I have returned to the forest of my childhood. Back then I knew this forest inside out. We collected mushrooms, raspberries and blueberries. We climbed on raised hides, built tiny huts and played cops and robbers. I knew the forest and its hideouts.

After so many years it feels like a trip to one’s own childhood. The stories from then reappear from my memories, where they have been buried from many years, as if they had happened yesterday. I enjoy it and walk further into the forest. But the forest has changed a lot. And to be honest, apart from a few features like the stone hill or an ancient tree I hardly recognise the forest. Many trees either have grown a lot or are no longer there, parts of the forest are downright overgrown and parts have been newly planted and extremely close so that it is hardly possible to walk through.

And suddenly I realise that I do not know where I am. An unpleasant feeling befalls me, since I do not know where or what direction I need to go in order to get our again. Thanks God we have modern technology, our little helper in difficult situations. I take out my mobile from my pocket (I hardly ever have a tissue or money with me but always my mobile!!) and realise that I will have to do without it. There is no signal in this dense forest!! And thus no Google Maps. A compass would have been more helpful.

I consider whether it makes sense to return the same way I have come but I doubt that I would find it. Since the forest is surrounded on all sides by a local street, it should not be that difficult to get out of it, provided that I don’t run in a circle. But it is difficult to choose one direction since there is no landmark and the trees are very high. And I don’t hear anything which resembles civilisation noises. On the local street there is maybe one car an hour. And suddenly I hear a car but the noise is far far away. The noise comes from the west and I decide to walk in that direction. That is the maximum what I can determine based on the sun.

I start thinking what I will do in case it gets dark and I don’t reach the street until then. I check my phone again. No signal. There are not many dangers. In the forest live boars and foxes. There were never any dangerous sites. It is summer, so during the night temperatures won’t fall below 10°C. It is not pleasant but with my pullover I might be able to outwit the cold.

I got lost in the forest of my childhood. I can hardly believe it myself!! I am not in panic but it is a very unpleasant feeling. I am used to have situations under control and now the situation has me under control.

I walk towards the west and have the feeling that I have never before been in that area. It is almost half past seven and I have two hours at most to find out of the forest. Otherwise I have to find a sleeping place. Awkwardness is growing!! And suddenly I see a meadow and a hill which I know. Ten minutes later I am on the street. I am relieved. I found out of the forest. I walk home along the street. For the next 90 minutes I do not see a single car. Shortly after nine I arrive tired at my mother’s place and get scolded!! Of course, they had waited with supper for me!! And I don’t want to disturb their sleep, so I let them think of me as unreliable. Better than to upset them by telling that I got lost in the forest of my childhood.

Before the late evening news I see an advertisement showing that one can download maps from http://www.mapy.cz and thus find its way even without signal. Whether it really works I will find out the next time.

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