They say that when the vikings found Iceland the forest covered the island from the shoreline and high up into the mountains. For the modern Icelander that’s hard to believe because if they were ever there, they are all gone, more or less. So when I came to Sweden I discovered this thing called forests.
I can’t say that I understand the expression “Can’t see the forest for the trees” any better than I did before. I understand the meaning but not quite the notion behind it. What I’ve learned is that you can easily get lost in a forest, they are not easy to walk through always, they can be pretty pleasant to wander in on a nice day and they block the view.
I’ve also learned that a forest can be a very frightening place to be.
On Black Friday I found myself in the country with the family, amongst trees, looking over a lake, underneath a starlit sky. The air was chilly but warmer than it normally is this time a year. When it was time to sleep I didn’t feel tired so I decided to wander in the forest by myself for a while.
Did I mention that I am still afraid of the dark?
I didn’t wander far but far enough so I could feel that I was by myself and that the sounds around me were from something lurking behind the trees, in the shadows that were only lifted by the strange glow of the full Egg Moon. I’m used to the strange city sounds but the quiet hiss of the forest made me uneasy. The occasional coo-coo made me jump out of my shoes and when I heard a squirrel or a mouse running in the bushes I was sure a ghost was stalking me and I wanted to run. I wanted to but I didn’t. I stayed put, stilling my fast beating heart, watching the stars swarming above me.
When you stand like that alone, trying to still your fright, it becomes clear where all the strange tales, myths and legends come from. All the horror stories and all the spooky tales. How easy it is to see a troll behind every rock, a ghost behind every bush, a dancing nymph by the lake bathing in the silvery water – you can almost see her bare skin in the glow of the moon, the drops of the water glimmering like the stars. Almost.
How easy it is to see ghasts, gnomes and grays. Or even blood thirsty vamps. How easy it is to let the fear get a hold of you. And if you aren’t careful you might find yourself running.
And when you start to run. They follow.
And they’re fast.
I didn’t run though.
Not this time.
Instead I calmly walked back to my hut, lay down and watched the stars through the window until I was too tired and I fell asleep.
I’m sure they wait patiently though, for someone to start running.