Glory of Green
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Stories from the Great Outdoors

 

Saturday: WIND. Sunday: RAIN. I don’t know if you’ve heard the Norwegian proverb “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”? Well, it came in handy being Norwegian if you wanted to be outdoors this Sunday in February. We started our hike at Abbaye de Villers, and even though this is an area we’ve covered before, we were in for a nice surprise – finding a varied and beautiful forest with not too artificial paths quite close to where we live, just outside Brussels (yes, I’ve been to the Forêt de Soignes, and it’s beautiful – but everything looks so very much the same and the paths so defined). This time we chose to hike northeast of the abbey – and what a good choice it was!

Bad weather can be good

I know there are lots of Norwegians who strongly believe in the concept of bad weather – and who are tremendously provoked by the cultural heritage coming with the previously stated proverb. 


And they’re right. Off course there is bad weather. In fact, there is horrible, whipping, frostbiting, drenching weather. And if you have the right clothes to match it – it can give you a wonderful, mind blowing, thrilling feeling of being alive. Which isn’t bad – and hence the sceptics are wrong non the less. There is nothing better than coming home with red cheeks and a cold nose – more or less wet and cold, but (almost) always happy. That’s the kind of day we had. Believe me – it’s good for you!

  If someone gets moody - hug them till they start laughing...

Geographical contingency 

I tried to find proverbs about weather from other countries (with the limitation of only knowing English and very poor Spanish besides the Scandinavian languages) – and I found that most of them were concerned with trying to predict rain or wind. Both very useful in the old days when being a farmer or sailor was common, and they both depended more directly on the natural elements. We have lots of those in Norway too. But then I found a funny condescending one: “April Weather, Woman's Love, Rose-Leaves, Dice, and Card-Luck Change Every Moment”. I’m sorry for the rainy day you were dumped and lost your fortune, whomever you are!

Browsing around the Internet  (I’m a geographer and a nerd – and I know it), I also learned that the wettest place on earth lies in India, but then we’re talking waist-high (or even roof-high) floods in the streets. I surrender completely to that kind of situation – no good clothing options available. Nude maybe? I will have to conclude that the Norwegian proverb is not meant for equatorial monsoons. The same goes for typhoons, hurricanes, extreme draught and other monstrosities.

It’s more like: Put on wool and waterproofs and get out even if it pours down, snows a meter or a storm is shaking your house (as long as you find yourself in an area where the most extreme weather doesn’t occur). 

What puddles are for

Here’s a truth every kid (and I) knows: The best thing with rain is that it creates puddles. The deeper the better. Once I put on a full rain attire and tried to swim in a huge puddle that had formed at our school yard. I think I was around eight and the puddle was probably there because of clogged sewage (hopefully I didn’t swallow). The rain clothes were of course completely wasted as a diver dry-suit is what I should have had on, but oh my God we had fun – and nobody got sick. While my husband might comment on the kids not getting so muddy, I’m right there on the side cheering. Come on – dive in! We are such a good team of parents. United front, that’s us. 

On our hike this rainy day there weren’t just puddles. There were rivers overflowing due to the heavy rain – and logs to balance on. In nature you’ll have to face so many different obstacles, it develops your mind and body and you don’t even have to think about it. Core work-out done!  

Saved by the Saviour

When exiting the forest and entering open fields, we got wind on top of rain – and although we all felt great about the abundancy of nature coming at us from every angle, we were wondering whether we’d find a good place for having a sandwich and the absolutely necessary chocolate. 

That’s when it revealed itself to us – the little white chapel on the horizon. What a scenic and comforting target! Standing under Jesus Christ himself, blessing the architect for making the edges of the walls stand out a little in the corners – creating shelter from both wind and rain – we had a glorious time. Divine intervention on the atheist! We thanked the almighty people who set up this heavenly little chapel and walked back home just in time to send off the eldest to a handball mach. Outdoors adventure completed for the day. 

Check out the earlier story from the Abbey Villers de Ville for more info on the area – about the abbey and about practicalities. Our hike was short - it's completely possible to combine with the other walk we had, going south-east of the abbey. 

 

 



Nearly every trip contains contact with some form of animal. We saved a worm from drowning on the wet path, but the rooster sitting on the window sill of the restaurant where we parked our car was probably a lost cause – looking in longingly at the people eating his fellows. Not too clever those birds – or maybe they just lack empathy – after all, they enjoy pecking on each other. Erla tried to befriend him – as she does with every animal she encounters, but he wasn’t having it. Hard to separate vegetarians, I can see that one.