Not very much, reader Brian. I drove through it once on the way to visit the city of Freiburg. I remember the Black Forest being quite black indeed because of all the pine and fir trees, but that’s about it for the forest itself. One thing I remember about Freiburg, however, was all the cuckoo clocks. The Black Forest area is known for cuckoo clocks, which have been produced there, in one form or another, for some 300 years. There was a shop in Freiburg that seemed to have nothing in it but cuckoo clocks. The sheer absurdity of it made you want to buy one.
Until then I’d always assumed that cuckoo clocks came from Switzerland. I’m told that while the Swiss do make cuckoo clocks they’re in the more tasteful “chalet” style than the classic carved-wooden-deerheads-with-pinecone-wieghts cuckoo clocks. Taste, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder.
Before my experience at that shop I confess I’d never wondered: why put a cuckoo in a clock? The answer is that the cuck-coo, cuck-coo sound of the common Eurasian cuckoo is, at least in that part of the world, a harbinger of spring. A happy sound, in other words. Or at least it starts out that way, until you hang the clock in your living room and it positively drives you mad. Which may well be why that cuck-coo sound also signifies crazy in Western culture. Anyway, that’s the sum total of my knowledge, Brian. Thanks for the question.