This year I have seen more moose than in all the years I have lived in Sweden combined.
The moose hunt is underway. Again. I noticed all the signs went up along the roadside this sunny-frosty morning. And then I spotted whole groups of people in camouflage and orange suits carrying their guns around in various fields and parking lots all over the area.
Seems a little bit barbaric.
I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.
I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.
As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.
I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport’s labyrinth,
I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day’s sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.
Photo (c) 2017 William Wolfe (down the street from home!)
One of my favorite things about living in rural Sweden is being able to see the moose/elk all the time. If I go outside in the middle of the night, which I do at least once a week, I am almost guaranteed to see at least one. Many people who have lived in cities and have not spent a lot of time roaming the countryside tell me that they have maybe seen a moose once or twice in their entire lives. This always makes me feel lucky that I see them all the time.
Tourist season has begun. Hordes of Germans and Dutch and their cars usually flood into western Sweden when May/June starts, but today I even got behind a slow-driving, confused and ugly French car. Worse than any actual French car (Renault, Citroen or Peugeot) is a Nissan Juke. I think this is one of the ugliest cars with THE dumbest car name possible. Who chose “Juke” and what is it even supposed to mean? (“Please meet not only our least favorite car of 2012, but our least favorite car of our quarter century lives.“)
It’s also a time of year when people decide to put giant, handmade, ugly neon signs that read: “VÄRNING! ÄLG!” (“WARNING! MOOSE!”) everywhere.
In most places in Norway and Sweden there are actual signs that warn of moose – but here in this rural area it is all a DIY effort. The Norwegian signs (the real ones) look like real moose, but the Swedish signs, if you don’t look carefully, look a bit like panthers. Haha. Beware all those wild Swedish panthers.
The earlier cited article about Dutch people in Sweden actually made me think of a point that I sometimes question (and it’s not why someone writes the word “assassinate” as “assinate” and posts it on their blog): immigrants (those who have moved completely by choice, like the Dutch woman cited in the article, often report the following feeling: ““In the Netherlands, everyone is always in a hurry. When I went back there recently, I kept thinking: ‘Do you ever take the time to live a little?’.”
This made me wonder whether immigrants (again, by choice) are just by nature more “slowed down” in many cases than those born in a certain place. That is, it is easier to opt out of (or never join in the first place) things that are sort of like family and social obligations that one is often subject to at “home”. My life for example was always full of obligations, greater speed and involvement and integration where I came from – and no matter how I aimed to integrate and ingratiate (haha), I still was kind of “apart”, which naturally slows me down. Did I entirely choose to take the time to live a little or is it a matter more of circumstance because I am not totally integrated and also don’t feel like I have to fit into some preconceived idea about what I have to do and what is expected of me? I hear this “moving abroad helped me take time to live a little” – and immigrants often credit the “slower, more appreciative culture” to which they have moved – but I doubt very much that it is wholly or even appreciably attributable to the adopted country’s culture (in many cases) as much as it is the immigrant’s interpretation and place in that culture.
Sound du jour: John Grant – “That’s the Good News”
“You cannot trust me/I will stab you in the back/I’ll sell your grandma on the street to buy some crack/if crack is not available, I’ll buy gelato/you have to take things as they come that is my motto…”
“I have been fucked over a thousand times or two, and now I feel that I must take it out on you…“
“I count the moments, darling, until you’re here with me at last at twilight time…”
It had been a long while since I had seen a moose. In recent winters, it seemed as though I saw at least one each day – or at the very least, at least once a week. This past winter though I think maybe I have only seen one or two. Until this evening, as the longer days of spring stretch into a longer dusk, the twilight makes it much more difficult to see when the wildlife starts creeping out into the road. This evening, heading home, barely paying attention, my eyes were drawn to a new clearing where the area had been (sadly) deforested. A few stumps here and there and a few stray trees framed the enormous forms of two moose just standing among the stumps. I had almost forgotten how massive these creatures are – but was reminded why they are referred to as “kings of the forest”.
Immediately I thought about a news report my mom had seen after a forest fire near Seattle. The reporter on scene said something stupid like, “And now the elk are left trying to make sense of what has happened.” As if we can know what the wildlife is trying to make sense of – if anything?
I also knew I wanted to write a note about the trials and perils of twilight driving – which then made me think of the song “Twilight Time” and how my mom and I had gone on a mad chase trying to track that song down after hearing a Spanish version of it in the film Barcelona. You know – way before the internet and Spotify would have given us instant access to every song our imaginations desired.
“Here in the afterglow of day, we keep our rendez-vous…”
This morning/middle of the night made for an awful commute. During the first third of the drive, the roads were clear, but every kilometer or so, I encountered big groups of deer playing in the road. I must have seen 100 deer in about 100 kilometers. I also saw a rabbit, which I have never seen around here, and two foxes. This winter, strangely, has been mostly devoid of moose. It occurred to me that my driving amounted to little more than dodging deer, which would not be a bad name for a video game. I got to use the whole road, just as the Seattle-based 1990s comedy sketch show, Almost Live encouraged Ballard drivers to do. You pay taxes on the whole thing – randomly weave all over the road!
On the second third of the road, most of it was covered with ice that had been covered over by snow. So many cars were off the road and so many tow trucks were pulling the cars out. The whole thing made me not only not want to drive but made me think seriously about the merits of living somewhere warmer – Hawai’i once more? Australia (perhaps much too warm)? Uruguay?
Thanks to the middle-of-night driving, I did not get to see my Seattle Seahawks win against the San Francisco 49s in their playoff game. It sounds like the Seahawks did not play at their best in the first half, so I know I would just have been getting angry and sick watching it anyway. By the time I was done driving the first two-thirds of the seemingly interminable three-hour commute and stopped off at a petrol station in Uddevalla, the Seahawks had claimed their place in the Super Bowl (versus the Denver Broncos). All kinds of mentions of it are going around the internet already – but it seems funny that the two places in the entire US to pass laws making recreational marijuana legal are the two places that send their football teams to the Super Bowl.