“If you go into the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise,” reads the opening lyrics of American composer John Walter Bratton’s timeless and always delightful tune.
Certainly I’ve encountered many pleasant surprises in my wanderings through various forests since moving to this rural town, from looking for ancient stones that are the telltale sign of ancient settlements, to more surreal ones, like the pristine body of a dead lamb that I once encountered lying on a stone wall. If I hadn’t had a friend with me I might have thought I was imagining it because it was gone when I came back the next day.
Even without such strange happenings, our native forests surprise and delight thanks to incredible bird songs and occasional wildlife sightings. It is in stark contrast to the dismay I feel at the sight of all these dark and ominously uniform blocs of commercial forest that are increasingly covering our landscape. They’re said to be planted to offset carbon emissions, but they’re also there to build, come to think of it, picnic tables along with pallets and lumber, much of which we export to countries that are only too happy to exploit our scarce resources. willingness to lose our unique landscape with these pseudo-forests and to destroy biodiversity.
Worse, if you walk down into these woods today, you might be met with the kind of surprise at their haunted atmosphere that puts you off venturing into them again, if you were ever inclined to do so. My recent experience in one of them prompted me to write this week’s column with the surprise that awaited me far from the musical Mr Bratton or one of his picnic teddy bears.
It happened because I was traveling with a guest when he suddenly had to spend a penny; and where could that be better than in the commercial forest that we drove past. Not only did they want me to wait nearby to warn of overly friendly dogs and their owners approaching, my companion also insisted we go deep into that profusion of lifeless pines to reduce the chances of that they do pissus interruptus.
So we trudged on and on into this dark and eerily quiet forest, with the sun occasionally piercing through those tall pines, until my guest decided he’d found the perfect spot. So I wandered away a bit to give them privacy and then I got a surprise that made me wish I had one of those teddy bears to hold.
At first glance, it looked like I’d stumbled upon just the sort of place for teddy bears to have a picnic, with ample seating made from the trunks of fallen trees, all facing a bonfire with something laying over it, or rather was spread out. What that was got closer with every careful step. I realized I was looking at the deflated plastic figure of a woman, with yellow hair curling over half-closed eyes, complete with eyelashes and eyebrows, and red lips obscenely framing a pursed pink opening. Pink was also featured on the breasts, a criss-cross pattern suggesting fishnet stockings or lace on parts of the torso, with another pink opening between the parted legs.
There it lay beside that burnt out campfire, surrounded by a forest floor covered with dead leaves and twigs, glaring and ugly and unnatural in that ugly forest with its unnatural stillness and rows of scrawny saplings. A final surprise was a metallic green bra hanging from a branch of a tree, with the deep pink padding hanging from a cup.
At this point, my guest emerged from behind a tree, the relief on her face explaining why they didn’t notice the shock on me, and reminded me of the saying that anything is funny as long as it happens to someone else.
They rushed towards me, not noticing the grotesque scene just a few yards behind them. I was tempted to say, “Look behind you!” like in a horror movie, but then they wouldn’t have come back to town and would have raved about how healthy they felt after a healthy few days in the hives. And destroying that illusion was more than I could take.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/lay-of-the-land-picnicking-bears-beware-of-nasty-surprises-in-the-woods-41466401.html Location of the country: Picnic bears are wary of nasty surprises in the forest