Welcome to the Forest of Ardennes. Kings, Commanders, CEOs, Outcasts, Exiles, and Wanderers; all are welcome. Here you may find refuge from the politics and schemes of courts, corporations, and campaigns. We are all fellows here, equal, with no station or rank. Please take a seat and stay awhile.
From times immemorial, the forest has been a place of both mystery and magic, a place where nature is close and intimate. It has also been a place of shelter for the oppressed to hide and weak to take refuge. Forests can be places of beauty, peace, and healing or twisted places of fear and darkness all depending on your point of view.
The Forest of Ardennes depths have been considered unnegotiable by armies around the world, whether in the time of Julius Caesar, or millennia later in the 1st and 2nd World Wars of the 20th century. Like the Sherwood forest of Robin Hood fame, the Ardennes has its own legends and legacy. Shakespeare wrote of the Forest of Arden saying:
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
The Forest of Ardennes is a magical place where we can be ourselves, a place of camaraderie and fellowship, dialogue and collaboration, far from the machiavellian machinations of courts, corporations, or campaigns. It is a place where hope is alive and friendship is strong. Here Kings may sit with exiles, rebels may sit with commanders, in the spirit of dialogue and connection. Though millennia have passed, the forest remains a bastion and refuge to those who would escape the monotony and grind of daily life and spend a moment out of time in a simpler place.