Friday, April 2, 2010
Day 07: A song that reminds me of a certain event
Perhaps my favourite thing about life here in Norway comes in the middle of summer, when the much-vaunted midnight sun is at its apex. Oslo is far enough south that we never actually reach a point where the sun is above the horizon all night long - even on the summer equinox, there's still an hour or two of semi-darkness from around 2-4 am - but it's still a wonderful feeling to leave a pub or club in the early hours of the morning and walk home in a blissful, strange sort of daylight. The effect is disorienting if you're not used to it, but once you learn what to expect, it can be eerily beautiful.
Perhaps my strongest memory of this comes from last summer, when my good lady wife was away on holiday, leaving me alone for a couple of weeks. This couple of weeks happened to arrive during a bout of unemployment, so I was more free than usual to maintain whatever frankly bizarre and antisocial hours I wished, a freedom which I cheerfully-embraced. Particularly, I was able to take advantage of the long daylight hours to get out into the woods on my bike alone and undisturbed, away from the unbearable heat of the mid-afternoon.
One ride, in particular, stands out among the most remarkable experiences I've had in the past five years - having set out shortly before sunrise and watched the dawn from an isolated hilltop outside the city, I was able to ride for a good four or five hours without encountering another human being, enjoying near-total silence as I rode. This silence led to various unusually up-close encounters with wildlife, including a couple of eagles, plenty of snakes sunbathing on rocks as the temperature slowly began to rise, and - most alarmingly - a fully-grown female elk, with infant in tow. Swinging around a blind corner at high speed on a stretch of smooth, flowy singletrack some 10 km out into the wild, I virtually collided with her before skidding to a halt. A few moments' tense stand-off ensued, as this enormous creature (several feet taller than me at the shoulder, and I'm not a short man) expressed her displeasure at the disturbance with a deeply-intimidating display of snorting, pawing the ground, and a few pant-wetting mock-lunges in my direction as I backed slowly away. Fortunately, this cowed retreat seemed to mollify her, and she led her offspring away in peace.
Aside from this moment of utter, utter terror (and, it must be said, subsequent elation), these midnight solo rides were among the most peaceful, relaxing experiences of my life, and as the evenings begin to grow longer again, I'm growing increasingly-agitated in anticipation of more of the same. Sometimes, if the ride was a technically-undemanding, I would use my iPod to provide a suitable soundtrack, and my music of choice - for fairly obvious reasons - tended to be evocative electronic/ambient soundscape-y stuff, ranging from Brian Eno through to a selection of his bastard offspring on Warp records. I wasn't actually listening to the Boards of Canada on the ride in question, but I really should have been, and so far as my memory is concerned, I may as well have been. The A Beautiful Day Out In The Country EP, from which today's track is drawn, puts me so clearly in mind of those long summer nights that I can virtually close my eyes and feel the sun on my face as I listen to it.