In the forest on a Monday

The Sonian forest, south of Brussels, is Europe’s largest beech forest, and includes the remains of the ancient Silva Carbonaria or Charcoal Forest. Over the centuries, it has played many roles: hunting ground of the Hapsburg nobility, timber supply yard for Napoleon Bonaparte’s shipbuilding efforts as part of a planned invasion of England (he apparently felled 22,000 oak trees for that), retreat for monks and nuns whose chapels and monasteries still stand lonely among the trees, and once home to wolves and neolithic man. Today, it is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Sadly, there was no way my phone camera was going to catch the shades of russet, copper and tumeric of the last remaining leaves. Instead, I did get up close to some fungi, here on a fallen silver birch trunk (there are a few among the towering beeches).

Further along, I came across some more weird and wonderful fungi, this time on an upright but dead beech, marked for felling by the forestry workers.

The image above reminded me very much of a Smurf’s hat, appropriate for Belgium, where the surreal blue comic book characters were invented. They are called ‘Les Schtroumpfs’ in French. I can easily imagine them schtroumpfing around the forest when nobody is looking.

Today’s outing has made me once again crave a proper camera to better capture this ancient forest that I am lucky enough to have almost on my doorstep. With all this fungi around, I must also get hold of the recently published book ‘Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures’ by Merlin Sheldrake. Sounds interesting!

7 thoughts on “In the forest on a Monday

    1. Yes it really is lovely. There has been a loss of biodiversity over the years though which they are trying to remedy but it’s sadly a similar story everywhere. The fungi at least are thriving.

  1. I think you did a nice job with your phone for these images, Sel. I very much like the Smurf hat. This looks like a fantastic place to explore and it’s good to hear that it is protected now as a Heritage Site.
    I recently picked up Sheldrake’s book but have yet to open it. Winter reading. 🙂

    1. Thanks Steve, one of the upsides of Covid lockdown for me is being able to explore photography, I aspire to take beautiful photos like yours one day! The Sheldrake book does sound fascinating, especially for forest dwellers.

      1. We were fortunate that our state Governor encouraged exercise outdoors but, of course, using our common sense to avoid others even when masked. While out of work during shutdown I was able to get out with the camera most every day. I got spoiled. 🙂

  2. Nice photo of bracket fungi (I think that’s what they are) on the birch. They look like weird ears.

  3. Very nice pictures of the mushrooms, too bad that their season is slowly coming to an end. For the trees themselves, they mean the end of their lives …

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