Just one half percent of Germany is classified as wilderness. Forests are devoid of undergrowth in which wildlife and flowers could thrive. Fallen trees are swiftly carried off. No wonder I saw fewer than a dozen squirrels during the decades I spent in Germany.
I was awestruck when I arrived in the United States and we began exploring the state parks near our Pennsylvania home. Fallen trees, which are not removed, are covered with fungi and moss. New life emerges from the decaying wood. Ferns and wildflowers thrive in this environment. Birds flit among the trees and nest in snags. Chipmunks and squirrels collect nuts and stash them away for winter. Insects find nectar on the many native plants while also serving as pollinators. No matter which season of the year, there is always something new to discover: a wildflower or insect we have never seen before; a bird call we don’t recognize; or the intoxicating fragrance of a flowering plant.
Nature walks remain one of our favorite pastimes, even if it means climbing over or around a tree trunk from time to time.