From the Crow’s Nest

June 15

Coy rain stalks me up the slopes of Mount Fløyen. Yet the canopy is so tight-knit, so secretive, that rain can’t find me until I breech the tree-line. The firs unclench their claws, new green needles fanning from their fingertips. The new needles glow as if lacquered with morning light.

The mountain is threateningly green. Green so bright it might be sentient. Green so dark it broods. If I lay down, the green would nibble up my toes, soon burying my bones under a mossy headstone. When civilization burns out like a dead bulb, the green will steal down from the mountain to gnaw the city’s viscera.

Lakes spangle the tableau, brimming in every valley, every plateau, no matter how shallow. The lakes gleam black, a patently Norwegian black. These are lakes of black coffee, boiled black licorice with a glint of salt, or lakes of torpid petroleum.

You can never go alone on the ridge between Fløyen and Ulriken, for this is where the North Wind lives. He is always rushing across the headlands in a flapping dressing gown, whistling too loudly, harassing the gulls.

Demure bells rattle from a far ridge. Like a spoon scraping the dregs from a copper bowl, the sheep-bells sound abashed, apologetic. Ma-sheep hustles her lamblets away, but the littlest, a downy lambling with yellow tags in her ears, dawdles and looks back at me. She has such earnest eyes. We would never lie if we all had lambkin eyes.

Stones thrust from the turf like ship-wreckers from green-foaming surf. Thick and frothy as sea-suds, the tuft-grass hides bays of mud. The sludge slurps at my boots, thirsty for soles. It’s the species of mud that’s always licking its lips for a drowning. I escape with wet feet.

As I wade through these mock-tidepools, I admire the lichen. Like starfish, they sticker themselves to half-sunk stones. In salmon and angelfish-yellow, the lichen imitates its tidal fellows. Like the cabin-boy in the crow’s nest, I scout the seas. We’ve sailed into an archipelago. Mountain-islands seethe in the spindrift. Waves of fog shatter on their crags. I drop anchor and watch the breakers.


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