May 11th, 2004



I've never been drunk in my life. I've never really seen the need. But I'm drunk now...on Spring. It's intoxicating. You don't even have to ingest anything*, it just fills you up with joy automatically. I've started going for a power walk each evening after I put the kids in bed and Karin is safely asleep. It's so light out, even at 8:30 that it feels like late, late afternoon, even though the sun is streaking orange and pink behind the trees. One allé is lined with tall wild pear trees. Their branches are stretched and curled and covered with white cup-shaped square-petaled blossoms. Along with the spirea which is blooming everywhere it almost looks as though it has snowed. Judging by the amount of flowers on the pear trees, there'll be a bumper crop come fall. The problem is they're so tall that you need a ladder to reach the fruit. Everything is green and full, the trees have pulled their screen across the woods and gardens are stuffed to the brim with growing things.

I'm only walking for half an hour so far but I come back to the house with my head stuffed full of beauty and more energy than I left with. I've made a promise to myself and I'm determined to keep it. Once started, NO STOPPING.

Things Martin Has Asked Me Recently: Whether it's true that touching toads gives you warts, whether warts are dangerous, how you can get warts if touching toads doesn't do it, whether pet is a werb or a noun (took me a while to realize he meant VERB :)

Link I'll Provide When People Ask Me Why I Don't Drink: Eat the Worm

More Reasons I'm Glad I Didn't Turn My English Degree Into A Teaching Job: I Wish My Dog HAD Eaten It bwa hahaha!

*well, except for the DAMN POLLEN
  • Current Music
    Jayhawks—I'd Run Away


Out in the fields, the evening sun is slowing moving aside a white swath of foggy cloud. For a moment, it's as though it's rising instead of setting. Clover and cowslip muster along the dirt road and the gravel lies in the triangular patterned ridges that tractors have left behind. A magpie startles and then swoops into flight, the double white flash of its wing markings slice the air. Off in the distance, fields of rape glow in golden patches.

On one side a seemingly infinite carpet of green moves wavily over the fields all the way to Holmby church. On the other a bare, plowed expanse is ridged and flattened into rows. Stones of all sizes dot the field, they're constantly coming up. A long overgrown stone pile bisects two fields. As the road curves around the corner, it meets a ferny nettle-sided ditch, and a long row of pilar—willow trees—gnarled and twisted. Some of them have split in half and grown wide and open, leaning over the ditch, their green whippy branches sticking straight up in the air.

There's no tree as symbolic of the Scanian landscape as the knobby, round-headed white willow, cultivated year after year to create its unique appearance.The knobby tops of the willows are created by severe pruning every 3-4 years at the base of the branches. At the end of the 1600's a willow-planting campaign was begun in Sweden and endorsed by the king. The royal order was issued to all Swedish farmers to plant a specific amount of willows each year, with the intent to provide material for fences and enclosures. Unpopular at first, and enforced with controls and fines, the Swedes soon discovered many uses for these versatile trees.

In 1749 Carl Linnea advised the southern Swedes to plant them around all farm yards to help salvage Skåne. The forests had long disappeared to make way for agriculture and the tree-poor area was actually in danger of losing all of its topsoil to the wind. Willows provided shelter and protection against the sweeping winds that roust the Scanian landscape and were proof against erosion as well. They were prized for many things, not least the wood they provided and the thin bendable branches for basket-making, but also the pain- and fever-reducing properties of the bark*. They were cheap and they grew quickly, reaching stately sizes after only 20 years, and easily reproducing.

When the willow leaves were as big as mouse ears it was time to sow the wheat, and if the green willow leaves curled in the autumn, an early and hard winter was on the way. In the winter, their cropped heads and twisted trunks loom in rows along the foggy country roads. In the spring their branches resemble the upswept hair of troll dolls. Green, tufted, whippy willows: Spring has come to Sweden and made itself at home.

*willow is the source of salicylic acid from which we get aspirin
  • Current Music
    Joan Armatrading—Willow