Narrow Road > Deep North

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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. Will check the map archive.

Wolf Tree's have deep roots in both land use and folklore. They're one of the many markers that help us decode the history of the landscape. If I had time, I'd write something longer about them..

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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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This Whole Sky (2020, 7 page typewriter zine) Words by R.a.Szy

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Narrow Road / Deep North (2020, 17 page typewriter zine) Words by R.a.Szy

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Flat Mountain (2020, 14 page typewriter zine) Words by R.a.Szy

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Out by the barn we have a stack of felled birch trees which the previous owner was unable to prepare before he died. Until now we'd written them off as unsalvagable, figuring that a year of mold growing had done its worst.

This week we had a closer look and were pleasantly surprised to discover they're still in good condition. Before the damp of this Winter season sets in they need to be cut and and stacked to dry though — work that is now taking up most of my time here.

A sane person would do this job with a chainsaw! I'm choosing to do it manually, using a handmade bow-saw that probably dates back a century or so.

For me, the barn itself is a symbolic building. Its foundations are embedded in the working of the land, and the tools inside it — made by several generations of families — are an extension of those memories. Solid moments of frozen time. Working artefacts.

I feel it's important to respect the history of the land here, especially as we move forwards with our new management of it. I enjoy utilising these old tools where possible — there's memory ingrained in them, and ritual in using them.

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Temperatures have firmly settled into the minuses this week. There are fire pits set around most of the lakes here, which makes them perfect for a warm fika in the brightness of the low winter sun.

On walks, a stillness pervades the forest. Frozen moss cracks underfoot. Non-migratory birds go about the business of fattening themselves up. We all await the snow.

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