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.
In recent weeks I have been dreaming of bears a lot. Actual bears. Like giant brown bears in the forest bears. I have dreamt multiple times that they appear on my lawn, that they are running around my yard while I am on the front porch locked out of the house and somehow are even climbing onto my rooftop.
The strange thing about this sudden proliferation of bears in my dreams is that bears are apparently showing up in the areas not far from my house. It is very strange for them to be so far south – and it’s certainly a worrisome thought.
Given how often my dreams are a close approximation of reality, I hope I don’t get home to find a bear waiting for me (other than Teddy of course).
“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.
On the first commute of 2014 back to Gothenburg I encountered no wild animals at all unless we count the scattered, scrambled, sparse remains of an unidentified animal on the roadway not far from a car that was flipped upside-down in the trees next to the road. I did, however, encounter a ridiculously high number of cars on the road for it being the middle of the night. I am not sure if it is because it is the first day back for a lot of people after a long holiday break or just because it was a Sunday – and Monday is a first day back in general – or perhaps if the fact that I left 15 minutes earlier than usual somehow contributed to the difference in traffic.
Making this long drive again and facing the same patterns from last year that led me to such restlessness and, dare I even say, depression, I know that change has to happen. I have to make it happen. Sometimes even when you know what to do, have decided to do it, it’s still very hard to pull the trigger.