It was a grey, cold day. Fog settled in the morning and stayed, thick, milky, still. We drove to Gaasterland, the land of gentle hills, forests planted long ago, and sleepy towns in the southwestern part of Friesland, a province in northern Netherlands. My mother and stepfather like one of the forests there–Rijster Bosch (or Rijsterbos), a quiet, spellbinding place, especially in the fog.
The main path, soft with moss and withered leaves, leads all the way to the sea. We took a shortcut through the forest, centuries-old oaks and beeches whispering over our heads. In early fall and spring, the forest is one of the favorite stops for migratory birds. This late in the season, though, all is silent and subdued. With fog all around, I felt transported to a Tarkovsky film.
A winding path eventually brought us to the edge of the forest. Rolling pastures lay beyond. Flocks of sheep lounged there, watching us intently and calling out to each other through the mist.
A hardy lunch, fresh and comfortable, at the Hotel Restaurant Jans, minutes away from Rijsterbos, warmed us up after the walk. This was a welcome dose of reality: as much as I’d enjoyed getting lost in the forest, it felt good to rejoin humanity.