Narrow Road > Deep North

frequently "zen adjacent" notes from a Nordic province — by R.a.Szy

Another twelve hours of snow-fall.. awoken this-morning by the deafening silence.. so it goes...

The sun rises and holds higher in the sky now, bringing longer and fuller days with it. Beams of sunlight press in against the dying of the Winter, slicing through the skeletal forest and warming the ice-sheets on roofs. The world is still captured in monotone, but it's more expressionist in its highlights now. The granite and glacial features cast long shadows, their angular forms heavy with all the weight of deep geological time.

The house is filled with seeds now, sowed beneath grow lights. We anxiously await the Spring. The thaw. The time for work. Growing. Renovation. Cycles renewed.

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Temperatures have dropped to around -20 in the mornings now. During the day they mostly hover between -10 and -5. Cold, but the wind is still, so it's nothing a hat and an extra jumper can't fix.

All the lakes are frozen over. Spotted with ice-fishers and ice-skaters at the weekends. In the evenings you might catch kids from the local town, pulling doughnuts on them in their cars. Personally, I don't mind walking or skating on the ice, but thinking about driving cars around on it makes my legs twitch with a kind of uncanny vertigo.

The ice holds though.

If you stand out on the bigger lakes, you can hear the Singing Ice. The warbling sci-fi ambience that rises from the depths, generated by the ice shifting with temperature fluctuations — an imperceptible movement generating varying frequencies of noise. It sounds like a synthesised alien whale song, produced by a 70s Moog.

If you've never heard this, I highly recommend looking up some audio of singing lake ice.

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Looking for dead girls, down in the well. Also, making a note of the water table difference between Winter (above) and Summer (below).

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Vargträdet (The Wolf Tree)

Discovered this beautiful wolf tree off the trail near the house. There's a scattering of old stone walls about it, plus some remnants of fencing, so it was probably grazing land some time in the past. Wolf Tree's have deep roots in both land use and folklore, and they're one of the many (many many) markers that help us decode the history of the landscape.

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Have begun sowing seeds for the growing season to come. Gradually, the presence of the Winter Solstice wanes. The waking hours grow longer — the daylight stretching out its reach.

And it does feel stretched out. Thin and membranous. Sometimes bright and crystalline, sometimes muddy and washed out, but always only half-there.

The sun still sits low in the sky — rarely rising above the treetops. So it's more like a memory of daylight, recalled far too often. Like the events of childhood or the encounters of only yesterday, the details are foggy and merged in on themselves. Although we swear we remember them correctly, we alter them with each attempt to grasp them. In our efforts to hold onto a foundation of memory, we twist the past into something new.

This is how the long Summer days feel at the edges of Winter. Broken recollections of folk tales — speculative ideals of place and self and nature — whispered in the mind.

And yet, the food must be prepared. The harvest beckons.

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Creaking of birch or the sound of the bell? When does sitting begin and end? Alone out here it's hard to tell.

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Braced against Winter, the tall pine creaks above us.

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Morning walk..

A comfortable dry iciness has replaced the humidity of past weeks. The air no longer seeps through layers of wool and synthetics. It's easier to be outside all day, even though the temperatures have dropped.

Walking in the morning forest is best. There's never as much snow on the ground (the tree's bring up the temperature of the earth, and the fir canopy catches a lot) so it's easy going. The presence of the snow is mostly felt at the edges of awareness, among the muffled quiet. And in the contrasted highlighting of the evergreens that obscures the usual trails. It's a kind of frozen clarity — a heightened attention — that washes over the senses.

It's easier to track the movements of animals too. Pathways that are usually hidden are suddenly revealed. At the same time our own pathways become obscured, as the white horizon merges into the white treeline. The only colour coming from the beech saplings, still golden brown.

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