The panorama banner atop is a burial mound at the highest point on the isle of Ærø (“Maple Island”), a dozen or so kilometers south of Ærøskøbing. Dates to 3,000 BCE. Many of them lay scattered across the South Fyn Archipelago. I cycled through a larger collection at Pipstorn Skov, halfway between Fåborg and Svendborg.
Not far from a salt marsh, boggy by the coast, I found a thing. A “thing.” (folkmoot, þing, ting) Reminiscent of totems (reconstructions, of course). In a glade, the kind where the temperature drops 15 degrees under the leaves even in midsummer, even on the solstice.
A bee circled me. I smelled sweetness, and smoke, brackish water. A dull tapping between my shoulders. Looking out from this grove you can see stretches of the clear Baltic, porpoises hopping and tilting crests, gusty swirls coming from all directions.
I imagined standing here, in my twenties, one thousand years ago. Buzick, Brody, BT, Uniqua around me, sucking mjød and slurping herring roe. The beech swaying, the twilight dragging on and on.
Buzick. I have a great idea.
Uniqua. Let’s hear it.
Buzick. Let’s load up everything and head west.
Brody. I’m in!
Uniqua. Sounds risky.
Me. Have some more mjød.
BT. I’m more interested in going east.
Me. What, your dreams about Afghanistan again?
Buzick. Let’s do it.
Uniqua. I’ll think about it.
Brody. Thinking never helped me.
Buzick. For our families. For us.
What possessed us? The Edge of the World by Michael Pye granted an interesting perspective. Saxons to the south, Francs and Charlemagne just beyond, and nothing but swamps to the east. No one else had created a rigging that you could tack into the wind.
Squeezed like a pincer, the Vikings did not so much embark as they were embarked. In long, single-masted barques. I may be misremembering, but I believe it was Francis Fukuyama who made me consider the assertion that technological advances at certain times are too transitional, too violently anti-paradigmatic, too shifting to fit within our reasonable bound(arie)s.