It was one of those afternoons which seem indefinitely long before one, in which many events may happen, a large portion of our natural life, though it was already half spent when I started.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Recently I experienced a brief adventure. The Waldzeit Association, a wilderness camp located at Falkenstein in Bavarian National Park invited me to visit their facility in late summer. This organization has faithfully reconstructed Henry David Thoreau’s cabin and during its anniversary year of 2020, following in Thoreau’s footsteps has invited a number of creative people to spend a few days working and living in the cabin. In addition to the Thoreau cabin, there are several cabins devoted to specific themes, as well as country cabins scattered around a wonderful base camp made of glass and wood. All cabins are without electricity and water, with the exception of the water hut, which is supported by stilts and is located directly above the Geiselbach, an inlet feeding into the Kahl river (County of Aschaffenburg).

Normally the huts, which are looked after by Waldzeit and the national park administration, are used by groups and school classes and these groups are serviced at the base camp. Unfortunately, my stay occurred during the time of the Corona pandemic and it was as if the entire camp appeared to be extinct. It was a good thing that Waldzeit agreed to allow my daughter Marlen to accompany me. We were the only people in the middle of this great nature. During the day everything was wonderful, but the night made us realize how much we are used to electric light and the presence of other people around us. Admittedly, we were uneasy during the night, especially since we had no access to the Internet, thus  contacting the outside world was impossible. And yes, there are wolves, and the Czech border, across which some people like to transport some things unnoticed, was practically on our doorstep.

But to return to the day. It began early and we experienced it just exactly as Thoreau described his afternoon in the quotation above. It was as if we had fallen out of time. Marlen took pictures, sketched and read in Thoreau’s books, which were kept in a tin box in the cabin. There were also a bed, two chairs, a small table and a wood stove for cold days.

Here Marlen was searching to find clues for a new nature-inspired jewelry collection, which she has founded under her own label called Goldmarlen. Here at the camp I myself have come upon a new approach to the creative process in my painting. For the work in the wilderness camp, where I had no possibility to melt wax, I had prepared wax cloths. Using these cloths, I took impressions of trees or made rubbings. The results derived hidden natural processes, with their infinite variety of forms, colors, and structures always transported me into a state of bright enthusiasm. Algae, lichens and fungi alone form an aesthetic world of their own. And tonal colors generated by nature are always consistent in themselves. And one has the impression that creative will and chance are ideally intertwined. In the studio I would like to implement some of what nature shows to me outside.

Waldzeit, together with the Bavarian Forest National Park Administration, are doing remarkable things in the area of environmental education, that is, with regard to the love of nature. An extensive program of courses is available for children and adults. This is a forward-looking project takinig place in the middle of the forest!

Being in Thoreau’s cabin brought me even closer to him than he already was through his writings alone, which are still relevant after 200 years. Thank you to the Waldzeit Association and thank you, H.D.Thoreau !

www.nationalpark-bayerischer-wald.bayern.de/lernort/wildniscamp/index.htm