The clocks had been set back an hour and I had awoken to a morning where there seemed at last to be time. The finely tuned machinery of a school morning had been switched off for the coming week with the autumn break here.
Out on the lake in front of the palace, steam rose in flames like gentle spirits, come to bring the winter. I’d been dreading it for quite some time, but now that winter was here, it was unthreatening, soft and beautiful in a familiar sort of way. The leaves crunched under my boot soles like encrusted jewels, the park floor feeling like a treasure trove. Perhaps it was because a Scandinavian winter looked like jewelry on this day, that it was so appealing. The leaves that had not yet fallen – and there were still quite a few – were various shades of gold and the frost was like diamonds on the grass.
To Ellie the dog, who is not yet one year old, the experience was new. She sniffed at the frost and immediately determined that this was something to roll in. Better than mud, I thought. A blackbird watched her from a distance and thought it rather odd that anyone would want to wet down their feathers like that in winter time.
The guards on duty prepared to inspect the grounds, and Ellie cringed at the sight of their rifles. How would she know what a rifle is? It occurred to me, that somewhere in her genetic memory rifles were dangerous. Noticing her fear, one of the guards thoughtfully hid his rifle behind his back. She immediately rushed to him and made friends.
During these mornings of walking with Ellie through the palace grounds, I have often thought that the world would have achieved something if suddenly the guards and the rifles were gone; somehow, they were superfluous and didn’t make sense any more. I was once a student of war studies and my educated mind says it is all just dreaming. Yet winter mornings, like all of the very real transformations in nature, keep my fantasy alive.