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Julie\'s Nordic Island

Space & Time for Your Wellbeing

Posts Tagged ‘mountains’

A trip to infinity

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Sacred mountains

I’ve come to the mountains to escape the idea of the last day. In the ancient mountains there are no last days, as the mountains go on forever. As we drive up, the giant spruce tower over us on either side of the road like attendants at the portal to this land of infinity. Their size should make them initimidating in the rapidly darkening skies, but it doesn’t. Their white coats of snow make them look like sad angels, overgrown children tasked with standing together and greeting newcomers at this entrance to the land that never ends.

From my cottage window I can see the sacred mountain. It gets in the way of progress, they say, because no one is allowed to build on it, over it or around it. One becomes quite ill climbing up this mountain, and one wonders why since, like most of the Swedish mountains, its altitude is not remarkable. Perhaps that is because its very being clashes with our need for speed; our inclination to divide life into the old and the new. On the mountain, old and new dwell together; they are a part of the same whole and change is constant.

In the nearby village it’s the time of peak business; time for excitement, hustle and bustle. Yet, the manner of speaking of our local hosts, the townspeople, remains constant. While happy to see us, the shop attendants find our ecstatic lowland approach to New Year’s puzzling. They’ve put out the fireworks for sale for our petty amusement, but the mountains will continue at the midnight chiming of the clocks and time will go on.

Out on the cross-country tracks, which are themselves an endless white, it occurs to me why it is that I long to escape finality and the ideas of old and new this year. It isn’t as simple as ageing. The challenges that we face today seem so final that opposites don’t matter any more. Young, old, this, that matter decreasingly as we begin to wake up to the fact that we’ve used up the earth. In this dark thought I come to an even space, as even as the land that stretches between the low, undulating Swedish mountains: when finality becomes great enough, contradictions and opposites seem to collapse. Old and new become time, time and infinity become the universe and, most importantly, you and me become we. My skis keep moving me forward in space and time through the white, but I hold onto this thought which seems so deeply entrenched in the spirit of the mountains.

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Learn more about Julie Lindahl’s books and other projects at www.julielindahl.com and www.storiesforsociety.com.

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The pansies are on the doorstep

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Change is inevitable so pick your moment

I had just returned from the mountains where April was like silk glistening on every facade. In the mountains there was peace: no rush to prepare for the life to come when the snow had melted. Here there were no gardens to tend. The blueberries and the cloudberries would simply burst forth in the shade of the pine and the spruce, and there would be nothing else to do but pick them and enjoy. There is always a reluctance to leave the measured rhythm of the mountains for the speed of the south. If you are wondering where this treasured paradise of mine is check www.fjatervalen.se.

Back in reality, I made one of those resolutions that only the spring grants you the wherewithal to make. I would get up an hour earlier to take a longer and more energetic walk with Lucy the dog in the mornings. I would reach the park before the signs of rushed humans became evident in the gravel, and before the morning traffic reached its cacophonous peak. Somehow I would beat the speed.

At the waterfront all signs of the thick sheet of ice that had looked unmeltable only a couple of weeks ago were gone. As I walked down the linden alleys my thoughts were drowned out by the screeching of birds for which 6-7 am was obviously mating hour. The branches of the trees were still bare but the birds had got a head start on the race of the season. In the gardens of the well-kept homes leading down to the China Pavilion, the bishop’s goutweed had already managed to creep up before the garden sheds had been unlocked for the warm season. “Remember to get your tomato seeds planted by the end of March,” I had been advised by the lady with the greenhouse next door. Were mine planted? Were they hell! Time was running through my fingers.

Up at the China Pavilion, the pansies stood ready to be unveiled at the doorstep. Were we already back at the annual pansy exhibition? I sat down on the top step and took a sneak preview of the exhibit under one of the white covers that would be lifted later this morning. “Peaceful moment” read the sign in front of one of the many different varieties. Of course, peaceful moment, I thought, isn’t it so true? Change is in the nature of things so just pick your moment.

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Mountain Spring

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

No sooner than the tulip leaves are small folds of green making their way out of those bulbs that have been waiting all winter for the light and warmth, my family decides that it’s time to head back to the winter. It’s always two against three at Easter time. Lucy the dog and me against everyone else. In families minorities still don’t seem to win although they seem to be doing so elsewhere these days. So here I am away from my two islands, in a mountain cabin noticing out of the corner of my eye that we have got a snow storm underway. A phone call with my mother who lives in sun-baked Florida tells me how happy I should be that the little chocolate eggs I will be hiding outside on Easter Sunday for the annual hunt won’t become mushy blobs wrapped in foil that has been pecked open by birds.

The snow storm subsides and the sky blanket of grey begins to thin.  Lucy and I step out for a stroll. She stretches her long white body and sniffs the air. Something is underway. In a few short minutes the mountain sun is reflecting the pristine white so that every cell feels as though it is being recharged after all of these months of darkness. We continue onto the cross-country tracks with no one on them for miles around. Lucy pricks her ears, cocks her head and adopts that prize-winning retriever stance that surprises her mother (yours truly) who has always treated her as a floppy, immature child.  A ptarmigan (willow grouse) trying to escape our gaze with its whiteness realizes that it has been spotted and rushes across the snow.  We look and listen more carefully. The spring is underway in the trees here too. The towering spruce chirp with birds hopeful for a good new season.

Then suddenly I hear the flow of water; not just a trickle but the steady flow of a proper stream. It is a thrilling experience to hear the strong flow of water when all you can see before you is ice and snow. Just when everything seems that it is the way it is, if you are watching and listening closely change is underway. I shut my eyes and think about this. Sometimes I think I can learn more by shutting my eyes and listening to a stream in the snow than I can learn from all of the books in the world. So, perhaps coming to the mountains in the spring isn’t all baloney after all.

I have often thought that we should have meditation spots in cities where people can stop and just notice the water trickling or some such. Of course, there are the parks but I was thinking of land marks that are more deliberate. Everyone would feel more satisfied and I am sure that we would have less violence. Until then, close your eyes this spring and listen to the trickling water, the chirping of the birds and feel the warm light of the sun. There is nothing more important that you could be doing this Easter.

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