Some days, you hear about a thing and you just have to go jump in the car, with little information about where it is, or if it’s even time to go see it, and just hope for the best. This past Tuesday while reading my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a post about a “Bluebell Forest.” The poster asked for directions, if anyone had been there, etc. There were vague directions given, and after a quick google maps search, I figured, what the heck? The only thing on the agenda for Tuesday was housework. And if we are being really honest here? It was going to be a day of light pickup and lots of Facebook surfing. I had seen pictures somewhere online before – did I pin this to my Pinterest board? – and if the flowers were blooming it could prove to be a seriously magical sight.
So I set out, written directions in hand as if it was 1994, and hoped I would find the place. Once I got off the highway, I put in the only street name that I could into the car’s GPS and it got me to the riding school with the orange roof mentioned in my handwritten directions. I winged it the rest of the way, trusting that this crazy narrow street (that said no circulation except for locals) was really the right way and not some person’s driveway. Praying that I would not meet a car coming from the other direction, I steeled myself and went forward.
Eventually, the forest came into view beyond some freshly tilled fields. As I got closer, I swear I could make out a faint purple glow. But no, that’s just my imagination making it cooler than it was likely to actually be. I parked in the little lot just outside the forest, grabbed my camera and my dog (figured I’d get the walk in as well, killing two birds with one stone) and my excitement grew with each step. Once inside the boundaries of Hallerbos, it was evident that I was in the right place and at the right time. I snapped off a few excited photos right away, some blurry from my dog’s misunderstanding that this outing really wasn’t for him. The I took a few deep breaths and called Denver. I had to share the experience with someone, even if I was just describing it to him. The sea of purple stretching off into the distance through the trees was just as magical as I had hoped it would be.
I spent the next three hours wandering the trails taking shot after shot, knowing that I was going to have such a hard time deciding which ones were good ones, knowing that it was going to be purple forest overload when I got home. But I didn’t care. You never know when you’re going to stumble onto these gems when you are out and about just living life, and you never know if you’ll ever get back to them once the initial opportunity has passed. So I was determined to make the most out of my day in another world. And so it continued until I ran the camera battery completely out.
With battery dead and dog exhausted, we headed back towards home. I immediately uploaded my haul to my laptop and started sorting. After awhile I got a headache. When Denver came home, I made him go through them. He made it through about half. I loaded one onto Facebook, because, well, I couldn’t help myself. I needed to share it. But I have held off on loading any more just yet.
And then early today, Denver suggested we go out there as a family. The teenager was even willing to get out of bed on her Saturday to join us. And she had the same reaction that I did. Denver didn’t at first, but it turns out that his sunglasses made everything super trippy in the forest. After he took them off, he was like “Oh, that’s what all the fuss is about!”
The lighting was exquisite and changing. There was a light fog (we missed the heavier fog) and the forest just looked cooler than ever. It was apparent that this is about the last weekend to see the bluebells this year. But I am thankful for the opportunity to see such a fleeting, awesome and beautiful sight such as this and it goes down as one of the cooler things I have done while on this crazy trip of a life in the Foreign Service.