Yesterday afternoon I felt so inspired by the sun's return and the resulting rise in temperature that I decide to take a quick dip in the lake.
The water wasn't exactly warm, but it was wonderful nonetheless. The horses were even kind enough to keep me company throughout.
The lake itself is apparently a recent addition to the farm resulting from some continuing waterway restoration projects (hello well allocated tax dollars!) that utilized the pre-existing dirt, sand, and gravel rather than trucking it in from somewhere far away. The farmers now refer to it as their beach.
Later I will tell everyone about the mind boggling amount of tadpoles (remember tadpoles?!) I witnessed out there. Elsebeth will make a half joke that perhaps the stork will now return after a twenty five year hiatus since she will soon have a sufficient number of frogs to eat. Not two hours later, we will open the doors to see four huge storks circling overhead.
Just now, during my walk, I saw the same four storks chilling in a wheat field, awaiting the imminent smorgasbord.
Welcome back to your unlikely habitat you strange and glorious creatures! I suppose you have the Danish government and taxpayers to thank.
(P.S. Happy Memorial Day?!)
Today the skies unexpectedly opened up late in the afternoon and the sun shone for hours and hours. Many wonderful things resulted, not least of all the return of my evening stroll through the forest. A lot goes on here at the farm but let me just tell you, this post dinner ritual has become the true highlight of my days here.
The journey begins near the horse pastures and then past the lake, next by another farmer's sheep, and then to a dirt pathway that branches off towards numerous options for where to go next. The very best path thus far is the one that takes me to the "other forest". There seem to be an endless number of trails through the trees upon arrival; some marked and beaten down, others less so.
I have made many otherwise inconsequential discoveries out there: a hedge hog moseying by, a gigantic black slug, an alternate pathway leading to a fish farm or pheasant cage (it's all very mysterious), one lone poppy growing in the wild...
It feels as though I am truly and completely alone out there in a way I'm not used to (or taking for granted) after ten plus years of living in the city. It's just me and the breeze (and the snails, and the frogs, and the birds, and the bugs...)
...Nary a care in the world.
There's a bit of trouble brewing out on the pasture and it's been described to me as having to do with "a very giant tit".
This giant tit has only added to the persistent dark rain clouds cast over the farm today. Here's hoping for sunnier skies (and hopefully good tit related news) soon.
I thought you might also enjoy knowing that a flock of tiny baby spiders has hatched in my caravan since I moved in (see black dots above). I am sort of torn here. On one hand, I am newly one with the land and nature. On the other hand... Gross?! They made themselves that communal web in the short time I was sitting in the adjacent chair reading. Awesome. Imagine the web they could form across my face while I lay sleeping tonight?! To be continued...
Ah, the permanent layer of grime underneath my fingernails! Just what I had been waiting for (no, seriously!).
Let me illuminate you on the subject of an organic vegetable pasture for just a moment: there are WEEDS. Lots of them. All around the plants themselves (in this case sprouting carrots and beets) you have to get rid of the weeds by eye and by hand, one by one, easy does it, until only the good stuff remains. Believe me when I tell you this is one of my favorite things in the world to do. I am sure a migrant worker (or the girl currently volunteering with me) would beg to differ. But something about the instant gratification, the small margin for error, and the hands on connection to each budding vegetable is deeply satisfying in a way I can't easily describe.
Today, after the sun had sufficiently dried the soil, I was handed what appeared to be a gigantic rake from olden times and given a demonstration of how to walk backwards very slowly to create perfectly spaced rows, primed for sowing. On the list of things to seed were parsnips, sweet corn, and something not edible but extremely good for prepping the recently used soil's nitrate levels for next season.
Parsnip seeds, if you don't know, are sort of like oatmeal flakes. I mention this because extreme concentration ended up being required of me to achieve perfect spacing, one seed not two or three or five at a time, and/or to avoid parsnip seedlings being spread across all of Denmark with one swift breeze.
The latter two seeding projects were made easier by the farm's recent purchase of a seed machine. Don't get too excited - it's still as minimal as it gets, just a brilliant invention by someone about a thousand years ago. It basically looks like a silly bicycle that you push; one wheel controls seed distribution, the other smooths it over in its wake... And voila! Rows and rows of weeds and corn, all before lunch time.
All in all, an incredibly satisfying few days of work. And then I took a nap.
This vagabond has finally found her dream home.
I was taking a walk after dinner last night and stumbled upon a gypsy caravan - no big deal, right?! Note that this is not to be mistaken for the "caravan" of previous blog posts. Comparatively, that one is little more than a low budget trailer one would set up as a construction job site office space - venetian blinds and all. At lunch today I mentioned my discovery and brought up the notion of my living there. I would describe my farm owners' reactions as bemused but delighted. For one thing, restoring electricity can wait another day. It also turns out Bjarne (farm patriarch) lived it it for three years back in the day. He also claims he will return in 10 years time. I knew I liked this man.
I am already so much happier. There remains no bathroom and I've added some walk time to the main house. But there's a sink, a cozy chair, the world's ugliest lamp, and a wood burning stove with a squirrel on it. Almost immediately after I moved in, a herd of sheep grazed past my window. I might never leave.
I am sensing an oncoming feeling of settling in. As predicted, there was quite a bit of cleaning to be done today due to the large number of guests arriving. I'll have to hold tight in the role of maid in hopes of planting and such as soon as things settle down a bit and dry out a little more following some recent rain. I did however get to stroll some horses to their picturesque pasture this morning to eat grass until sundown. Scenes like this make it easy to remember why I came here.
Further updates: I am not yet evicted from this apartment I am sleeping in after all. Still, I am loathe to get too comfortable here. After I was done properly doing work today, I made an attempt at tackling the man-mess left behind from two worker dudes who previously inhabited the caravan. I made some headway but it was soon revealed there isn't actually electricity out there at the moment due to a mishap during some earlier work done on the road nearby. Apparently this is also why the loudmouth goats are inside along with some surly bulls - not to be confused with steers! These uncastrated SOBs are too horny and crazy to be left to their own devices in the fields at this point in their young lives. They have also inherited these goats as cell mates for the time being as the electric fence lost its juice and within two days the goats were running amok. When the power is restored they can return to their tiny field dwelling behind the caravan to the delight of young visitors and possibly to me. These goats are for petting, feeding, and screaming like voice cracking male teens; not for milk as that's pretty time consuming and not really worth doing for this particular farm. Regardless, they are planning to fix the wiring as early as tomorrow. My moving date remains pending.
One update regarding the beef... while I remain ignorant to any sort of complexities at this point, I will tell you the thin morsels of steak discovered in my roasted potatoes this evening were absolutely heaven on carnivorous earth.
Meanwhile a continued work in progress in the glorious Danish countryside. Have I mentioned that it's beautiful here?!
I can't really claim to know anything yet. I am the total newcomer, I haven't yet grasped the rules and routines (not to mention this whole farming thing). I am the oldest but I look the youngest. I am in a temporary "apartment" that I'll need to move out of by Tuesday to make way for a slew of farm-curious guests arriving. The most promising prospect is a caravan which needs to be cleaned (by me). There's no bathroom in it and the journey to the main house is not a short one. But a girl who has worked here a few seasons told me that it's nice and quiet. What I do know is that it is absolutely beautiful here. Tomorrow is a cleaning day but I will hopefully be getting my hands (literally) dirty soon. Let's just say the suburbs spoiled me with all their welcoming arms and informative banter. Someone wise just reminded me however that if everyone here is solitary (read: possibly, ever so slightly unfriendly) then I should embrace being solitary too. Which I need to remind myself was one of the main ideas that drew me all the way out here to begin with.
To be continued...
People, my love for suburbia is real. I don't know how I a going to be able to leave this place and go do like, work and stuff. There was a backyard BBQ tonight. There were Danish beers (my new love), frisbees, children on trampolines, wine, chips, lovely company, and the weirdest looking steak this novice meat-maker has ever seen. Josh's friend Tom was host. Unfortunately he broke his arm the day before in a freak bike accident involving super slippery reflective paint so everyone lent a hand. (He is also the owner of Holberg no 19, my new favorite CPH cafe). Note that I almost missed this event all together due to a mistaken journey through a Danish forest on the way back from the train, but all's well that ends well, right? And on my final night in this neck of the woods, things could not have ended better.
Topics to ponder: The Scandinavian design we know and love apparently only just became desirable again to the Danes very recently. Prior to that it was all a little "too 70s" (My new Ex-Pat friends clearly reaped the benefits). Second, there was a lot of talk this evening about the USA having awesome beef. Uhmm wha? Apparently all the awesome Danish beef gets shipped elsewhere, for example to Spain. Tonight we had German beef - really good, but not exactly awesome. I will weigh in on this with more perspective in my coming days on a meat producing farm. Finally, this crew may or may not have thought I was totally batshit crazy for going over to hillbilly land to work on a farm of all things. Like WTF CRAZY. It might be time to place your bets?
I did make a rather triumphant return to Copenhagen and spent a very long, pleasant day wandering through its streets. I kept finding myself compelled to sit a spell along canals and waterways with bright colored houses and tourists a plenty. In these particular areas, Copenhagen really reminds me of Amsterdam (a city I love) but it's otherwise incomparable. The mix of uber-Scandinavian design and pop culture (the kind you think of when you think of Denmark) juxtapositioned with all its stuffiness and centuries old formality and what not, will now forever go down as my limited impression of a city I barely got to know. From my removed vantage point, the best parts were the tiny surprise streets that a tourist would otherwise have no need to venture through. Those moments reminded me of my little street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and I can imagine just how lame I'd find that neighborhood to be if I weren't already in love with it. Hopefully I'll be able to return one day as less of a transient, aspiring farm-hand who's wandering around without anyone to provide the inside quotidian scoop. Until then, I will still be sufficiently charmed.
CPH Epilogue: the first tragedy of Vision Quest 2011 aka Scandinadia will be the official failure at acquiring the elusive floderboller. A little spot called Summerbird had been rumored to offer perhaps the very best. Unfortunately, their opening hours (or more importantly closing hours) foiled me not once but twice. A not so tiny tear for my sweet tooth.
I am so fortunate as to have been generously invited for a few days to the lovely suburb of Hareskovby. Josh has showered me with hospitality and Nespresso. I have been introduced by young Agnes to the backyard chickens (named Peeps, Sofia, and something that translates into Poop Pecker) and have now cradled "the least silly one" in my arms. At this moment, I am so happy to be in Denmark.
Ah, the country at last....!
I finally landed in Copenhagen, still riding the high of pure relaxation but I was beginning to feel a bit weary in the wake of almost two days of traveling. I got my act together enough to take the ridiculously straight forward train to Kobenhavn Central Station and then made the bold decision to walk to my hotel, all the while lamenting this godforsaken third bag I have decided to take. Upon arrival I was greeted by the wonderfully charming Nikolas Hall, owner and general overseer of the Bertrams Hotel Guldsmeden. I was shown to my room, had a few moments to re-embrace wifi and a proper shower and I then returned downstairs for pursuits of the alcoholic nature. Were I a Dane, I would have been delighting in having a national holiday the following day and therefore getting wasted in the company of all my friends at some hip CPH bar. Sadly, with the exception of Nikolas, I was alone in the world so it was a humble Tuborg Classic at one of the few uncrowded bars nearby and then another bottle taken to go to drink by my lonesome in my room.
Goodnight strange new city, more tomorrow...
(note: stand by for a more thorough write up of the hotel coming soon to www.jauntsetter.com.)