Victoria Hillman is a National Geographic Explorer and Research Director for the Transylvanian Wildlife Project overseeing research on carnivores and biodiversity of Europe’s last great wilderness. Follow the expedition here on Explorers Journal through updates from the team.
We have just a couple of weeks left on this particular project and I would like to take the opportunity to share with you a story that Laci has written, a story about a flower bunch complete with images he took during that trip. Laci writes what he feels when he is in the forest and finishes the story when he gets home to create wonderful stories to accompany his photographs, being inspired by what he sees, hears and feels around him when he is out.
The Story of a Flower Bunch by Gál László
Suddenly the autumn appeared. It has come as fast as it left its trail on the Hatod, in one of the wimples and it had to gather itself from the leaves of the trees.
But after that it looked out more carefully. Although more slowly, but with not much waste from its speed, it trod down the flowers.
I do my job by sweeping the forest.
Cold, foggy daybreak, animal tracks in the splash. I try to find out what they are doing here.
I arrive to a glade, and I stop on its verge to have a look round.
The grass is mowed down and fog rolls along in front of me. (At least this, if I don’t see animals.)
Monotony is broken by some reddish beech leaves.
Suddenly a Ural owl comes out from the fog and it passes over the meadow—it sounds really good, doesn’t it?
But the truth is that it flies as slow as I straight away enter under it to catch and avoid it from injuries if it falls down. Therefore I go after it to see if it really falls down.
I don’t find it in the forest, though I watch the branches of the trees and not the ground…
On my way I sidestep some willow gentians which survived the autumn and the mower amidst some bushes. I continue my way towards the top and discover something: a place that is new for me.
Not far away, beyond a row of trees, autumn crocuses are appearing in the grass. The scythe didn’t pass there.
Here the fog becomes as thick as I need to get out my penknife to cut a passage through it.
Since cutting isn’t wholesome, because sometimes a tree or a bush meets the knife blade, I turn back.
My thoughts are lifting above the fog… they show to me the blooming crocuses near me from there. I didn’t bring flowers long time ago (because I haven’t seen any) to the person who would deserve it. Now then the flowers are here… ah! These are so ordinary… no problem! After all it is natural… and she likes it!… Will it certainly be good?… Yes, yes, cull them now!
But from the long-stemmed ones… will it appeal to her?… Why not?! This is what flowers are for, no need to pretend…
Truth is that I also like these flowers… this is what I can give, and I will not buy from the shop than rather I bring none
I am who I am, and I bring what I bring… and then?… as she accepts you she will accept them too, well you know her!… although we shouldn’t generalize!
In the meantime I am picking the flowers by selecting them, only a few from the places where are grown more near each other… I am watching them, I am revolving them, I am thinking… hey you, is any ingenuity in you?… yes of course, so, rush, do not even sneak a knot on it… and further back this reddish beech… and the gentian…
I already see through the fog, I have the beech branch, there are even cupuls on it with beechnuts in them!… It will be a great bunch… she can even taste the beechnuts from it… I find a hawkweed too and some “who knows whats” which are fragile and I have to put them near the others with care… There now! It is good… Quickly for the gentian… this will give the base of it… and the bayonet grass is higher on its top… the branch is stiff enough… and down on the edge of the forest there are long blades of grass with which I can tie it, how good it is that my father has shown me this sometime! Thank you…
And I’m on my way with the acquisition in one of my hands, in my other hand is the camera with the mounting, the sack is on my back.
Because it is a new place I need to look round. Below in the hillside a row of mushrooms are blooming on a fallen tree. The way to there is very steep, what to take care of now, flower or camera? For both!… Wow, how slippery the fallen leaves are… I put it down there while I am taking photographs of those mushrooms… it is hanging into my picture, so I put it away…
So here we go, by moving it from one place to another, it fell apart… now you can arrange them again… the smallest in the front in order to be visible for her…
I stride up on the hillside… I could have left the bunch here too, but it doesn’t matter now…
I am making my way forward in a trail, I am watching the footprints… young stag… wild boars… two bears… Be careful! The flowers got caught in the branches… I put them into the sack… it isn’t good, they are fragile… you were wedding, now you must take them with you…
You shouldn’t stand in front of Her with broken flowers.
I go forward, hear movement from behind a pile of branches, cries are even coming. Here are the bears, they are well covered. They are boxing each other, I wouldn’t stay, not even by chance between them, but preferably behind a stump, I follow the outcomes with attention.
I take some photographs, the settings aren’t good.. of course, because I cared for the flowers, not for them… oh no they want to go forward… I need at least one photo of them!
…They are going downwards and in the meantime they are searching for beech nut… why are they in a hurry?… turn around! Even one of you.
I haven’t taken such a lot photographs of bear bottoms for a long time… to be sure you do not worry about crackling… well one of them is coming around here… at least one pic!… now you are free to go where you want… neither the animals can’t keep quiet?… I wait till the place calms down and I go home… but in which direction it is?… Uh, the bunch…
I have to search it… I want to see her face when I bring it to her… I came at about for a half hour after the bears, and now I must go back…
The bunch is blooming on the stump, I got into a sweat ’till I arrived here, now I go home, I don’t loaf anymore. I have the blades of grass, I arrange
The flowers again and then I tie them, well it is appealing… a picture is needed of it… it will be good here under this tree…
how hot it is in the sunshine… I sit down for a little time under the tree and take off the needless clothes… I selected the flowers like if I
Intended it for myself… possibly anyone won’t be glad for it, as it didn’t cost money… its value can’t be measured in material values… and the water under it must be changed every day, it needs to take care of it… it needs to be in contact with her and then it will take you back to the place from where it was collected… and who prefers to stay among flowers in reality, why not wander in the world of thoughts… the branch of the beech takes you into the seedling forest… the autumn crocus to the glade near the seedling forest… the gentian to the bushes between the forest and the glade… the cupul pricks your hand, next to the thought is coupled with physical senses… whether is it true? The bunch transmits all these? And the fact that these stems of flower are the tie between me and her?… That she was with me in spirit all day long today?… That when she will pour water under them she will imagine where and how I did collect them, and in that moment I will be with her in spirit?… Then we have been together here, in spirit two times… and the thoughts come true… The time has passed, now I really have to go, I will miss the rendezvous with her.