I think i’ve told you about my forest. If not: I love my forest. I have shed blood, sweat and tears for her. And she is a she, for Mother Nature will always be a she.
I love her ability to produce new life, throughout the year. I love rediscovering her embrace and love, watching the seasons change, walking new paths and following new scents whenever I choose.
I love the smells and sounds and colours. I love the smell of fresh rain in summer, of mushrooms in the autumn, of icey coldness in winter and moose in spring. I love the sound of bumble bees finding flowers, of an owl swooshing from the barn, the song of the Eurasian Woodcock (which marks the first day of spring for me).
But this post isn’t about my forest, or love affairs, or even about animals. It took me a while to find a theme: I don’t believe in love/hate relationships. That is – I didn’t believe they existed. Not really.
Until this summer.
This summer, I have formed a love/hate relationship. It’s pretty one-sided at the moment, as I am still doing reconnaissance – and my emotions are pretty jumbled at the moment.
I used to love finding signs of new life in my forest. A paw print here, a snapped twig there, disturbed foliage, half-eaten spruce cones – it was all part of life, forest life, my life. Now I walk with sharpened sight, I talk loudly to myself and fear more signs of a new inhabitant.
I used to love new species in the forest. This one, not so much. This one I don’t want. It’s vicious and messy, it decimates forest undergrowth and I have nightmare visions of gigantic animals with a ravenous appetite for human flesh.
I know that they’re not crazy dangerous animals in reality. Deep down, I know it. I just haven’t managed to convince myself of that knowledge being true.
I’ve known that wild boars have been spreading throughout south-east Norway over the past few years. I’ve seen the damage they do to forests in Sweden, and I was hoping that they wouldn’t make it over the border into my county just yet. I was expecting them in three or four years.
A fortnight ago, I found so many signs. Faeces, hoof prints, undergrowth that had been overturned by a snout rather than being muzzled gently by a deer.
My forest is over-run by wild boars. There are at least three animals ranging from oinklings to adults weighing in at approximately 100 kgs. There might be a gigantic, 1,000-lb beast out there as well – that’s food for nightmares – but it might also be a moose.
And yes, I hate them and I love them. I hate them for taking away my feelings of being at one with the forest. I hate them for the damage they do, towards vegetation and fellow beasts. I hate them for making me feel insecure when I find a den, or fresh faeces, or something else which has changed.
Yet – a part of my loves that they have finally arrived. I love new life and new species – I am still wondering when I will be lucky enough to actually see the heffalumps that live there. If the 1,000-lb turns out to be a hog, I would love for him to chase off all the morons who venture into my forest. I hate the human hyenas who steal and litter, who light fires with no thought for fire hazard, human garbage who pollute and threaten peaceful country living.
I would love for them to be chased back to their city with a blood-thirsty boar close behind.
I hate not feeling safe in my forest. It’s always been my one safe haven, a place that no-one could ever take from me – and suddenly it’s not. I find myself thinking about how to climb trees and wearing long pants in case I have to run straight through rather than ramble along as I usually do.
I know that I will probably feel a lot safer once I’ve got their trotters on tape. Unless the moose is a boar, that is. Or a sow with a dozen oinklings. I like that name, oinklings, it makes them sound less dangerous. I try to convince myself that they really are quite harmless and cute and almost cuddly.
It also makes them sound tastier. I must admit that my mouth waters at the thought of a small oinkling, or would it be oinker? – grilled on the spit, served with an apple in its mouth. Nice and crispy ears, to be munched on and washed down with honey pepper horilka, Ukrainian-style.
A bit like this little piggy I had the pleasure of tasting in Poland some years back.
Or maybe do it the Gaul way, the role of dog and poet already taken.
Until that happens – I guess I shall continue loving and hating the four-legged, man-eating predators that have taken over my forest…