The City Winter Built

June 16

Kneeling on Norway’s North Sea peninsula, Bergen is a city built by Winter. Her achingly steep roofs remember the weight of snow. Mutilated by marauding storms, she’s crook-backed and stooping. Storm-wounds never heal. On the wharf, the houses huddle together for warmth, survivors of three centuries of Winter. They lean in at painful angles, eaves bent like broken bones.

To lure the fugitive sunlight, this winter-built city was painted in summer-colors: saffron, cinnamon, and iron ore. Yet even in June, the city is all in jackets. A restless mist paces across the slopes of Mount Fløyen. Even at Midsummer, Winter’s wolves stalk the city.

I am December’s child, north-minded, Winter’s kin. There is just enough meat on these bones to survive the deep-frost. In my winter-skin, I am weather-proof. Following my compass-needle North used to turn me wistful, because I knew the next wind would blow me back South. This time though, the South won’t hold me long. When Aurora Borealis spangles the Northern sky this September, I will be going home to Iceland.

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