She finds her answer in the woods. It’s always the woods.

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Ah Switzerland…you have me now forever.

I’m besotted with your cool alpine forests as a retreat from the sweltering heat of a European heatwave.

Will you whisper me your stories?

Bernaise Oberland
Forest above Lake Brienz, Bernaise Oberland, Switzerland by Angela

mossy bits

After I posed this question above, I decided to find who had written poetry about this specific area of Switzerland.

We’re staying in Lauterbrunnan Valley and I just love it. So much I can’t even seem to put it into writing like I usually can.

When I read that Lauterbrunnan Valley inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth landscapes…..oh my goodness!

I’ve been in Rivendell for days without realising it. Looking up at the three peaks of the Misty Mountains. I’m in Middle Earth!

Could I have known this? I can’t wait until morning to look at everything again with Tolkien in my head!

**Sub-thoughts** 5th July

After I wrote this post last night, I could not sleep, and I began to think about why I might have known and forgotten, or perhaps I just did not know, that this valley I chose for our holiday, was the very inspiration for my favourite writer and my favourite book.

I went back through the things I had noted, asked or said since being here and so many times, I had mentioned hobbit-like barns built into the earth with turf roofs,  conversations about gold in the waterfalls, misty mountains, the fascination with this place as a crossroads of different languages, the wonderful placenames…and yet….it still did not click. I had started to think about Swiss folklore and I had found out about Swiss dragon lore for my dragon-obsessed children, and had just read about folklore of the Barbegazi, dwarves with long bears who in Swiss lore, lived in the mountains, only coming out in snow……and still…not once did I put this landscape, thinking and folklore together and think…Tolkien.

Until I decided to try to find out if any writers had written about the Lauterbrunnan valley…Tolkien did not cross my mind. It just seems like such a failure for someone so deeply into the Lord of the Rings, to not draw the link or have any awareness of the connection.

I would intentionally come to a place like this because of Tolkien, and I have sought out visits to literary landscapes deliberately, but these days I don’t drag my family around based on books….yet here I am, having ended up here anyway.

Finding this out wasn’t just exciting – it made me cry because I felt emotional. I felt like the next day was a rare chance, an opportunity to see this valley in a different way.  To compare my pure impressions of this place.  A chance to walk the imagined landscapes of Lord of the Rings, that I first read at the same age that Tolkien was when he came to these real landscapes and found inspiration for Middle Earth.

For me, Lord of the Rings is the best landscape writing I have ever read, the fantasy is a bonus.

Today, I was well aware, that I was now looking and thinking differently here.

If I came here with full knowledge that this was Tolkien’s muse….would I still have fallen for this place myself? Could I have unseen this place, separate from Tolkien’s storytelling and been unbiased?. Would the enchantment have been of my own making, or purely of Tolkien’s great skill in weaving nature and landscape into his stories?.

What does it mean to me that I felt as connected as my favourite writer to this place? I feel almost embarrassed that I didn’t know, how could I not know?

This to me is connected learning. Feeling learning. Feeling a bit of failure. Noticing when your perspective shifts, finding opportunities to deliberately become aware of the impact of knowing and the impact of not knowing. Awareness of when it’s you and when you are influenced by another. Shifting between knowing and imagining.

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