A picnic had been prepared by us with everything we would need for an overnight sojourn if required. Isabel and I drove; she had been here before. She has been anywhere and everywhere particularly if a wolf pack has ever traversed a particular terrain. Isabel, I’m convinced now, is a she-wolf disguised in human form. Some humans are closer to animals than to people or I should say, more trusting of animals than people. Laws of nature are ingrained in Isabel. She had seen that these iron miniatures in Vienna had caught my eye. I was compelled to purchase a few specific creatures from an out of the way art shop. Leaving Vienna she said, “we need to get you into the forest Clyde. Nature paints as well as any of your respected masters”.
With that statement she was exacting her plans into place. The Black Forest if I hadn’t been before I’m certainly am now convinced is alive with stories, or tales, or legends. Can legends be real life happenings concurrent to this modern age, but always on replay if you can cross dimensional space? I’ve been pondering. On the way into the Forest, Isabel informed me about the many editions of folk tales or fairytales that the Brothers Grimm had compiled. They had been compiling since the early 19th century. What I found noteworthy specifically was that the brothers were linguists. They stumbled into this gathering of stories, which are now read slightly less than the Bible and Shakespeare. With all of this historical information being explained to me on our drive, I wasn’t positive where I was being led…after the picnic and sufficed to say with Isabel’s picnics you can’t pinpoint which herb or which root or which mixture of both is affecting you. For the most part it can be subtle- for the most part. But then there are always those times when you feel as if you’ve walked into a painting and the painting comes alive, well this was one of those times. There I was in a waking dream state and the Forest was holding all possibilities open for me. I’ve never had a fantasy of being on a game show, any kind of game show where you can pick to experience what’s behind a curtain or what’s behind a door or how much money is printed on the inside of the box. The idea of getting it wrong makes me hyperventilate. But here I was watching Isabel’s long graceful arms reflecting the moon in the full light of day, forming an arch and pointing to different paths that I could take in the forest. I asked her “Can you tell me what each path holds for me?”
“No Clyde I can’t tell you that.”
“Because I don’t know what each path holds for you. It depends on your choices at every turn.”
I looked around; there were seven choices. In retrospect I believe now that there were seven tales, or stories that I could have walked into. I walked onto one and then something in me thought- I need to choose a more complicated path. So I crawled over some fallen wood, silently Isabel followed me and I looked at her and said, “Can you tell me the path that I didn’t take”.
She smiled and said, “You chose not to walk into the story of Snow White and Rose Red.”
I was disappointed I must say I’ve always loved that story.
I looked at her and said, “Can I go back and have that one”.
“Do you really want to?”
I said, “No I’ve chosen this one”.
“Alright then you will know soon enough.”
Within about fifteen minutes or so, there was no doubt in my mind that I had walked into Little Red Riding Hood. Hour after hour we got deeper and deeper and deeper into the story, watching it all happen before our eyes. I began to consider with every step the word Predator. This word gets used a lot in the animal kingdom. It is a word that when I say it, I don’t see animals. There is a specific set of eyes. I didn’t see the wolf for one moment, as anything but a representation, a human predator and that face will be different for each person that walks into this story. With different twists and turns on the path, I began to figure out that my choices would play out different versions of the story. I never knew how many versions there were of Little Red Riding Hood. As I approached the final chapter of the story, I heard the trees whisper- there is nothing to be afraid of, girls will become women, and no predator can stop that. Many hours later Isabel and I sat under the stars talking about the experience. She reached out for my hand and then took both of them, looked me in the eye and said, “You made the strongest choice you possibly could Clyde. You didn’t walk the victim’s path. Do you understand how you took control of the situation”?
I looked up at the darkness of the sky, the trees were still swaying, there was a warm breeze. We were staying in a little town within the Black Forest. I had chosen a version of Little Red Riding Hood that I had never heard before. You don’t know what you’re choosing until it is upon you because you walk onto a stone or around a tree and all of the sudden you’ve walked into the next dimension of the fairytale itself. How Isabel finds these worlds, I don’t know. But once you’ve made your choice you can’t walk back through the portal when you cross over into another chapter of the story. Then the events play out before your eyes. In this way you are a participant although you’re not one of the characters themselves. Little Red Riding Hood was in front of me at all times, just by inches. And she couldn’t hear me, but I could hear her as well as all the other characters and creatures. In this version, my little red riding hood saw through the wolf’s disguise, tried to escape by tricking her grandmother with the excuse that she needed to defecate and did not want to do so in her “grandmother’s” soft bed. The predator grandmother allowed my little red riding hood this quick release if she promised to come back instantly, while tying a string from her devouring paw to the little girl, around little red riding hood’s wrist. Clever Red slips the string over something else and got away.