Thursday, July 06, 2006

pieces of the puzzle:talking shit (about a pretty sunset): Sweden(take 2)

Cold, the cold touch of metal on my gloveless hand. I reach out and grab the railing of the stairs taking me down to the lower deck. The ships is gently moving in the rhythm of the dancing sea, and the horizon is winter-cold and in the colors of the setting northern sun. We are slowly sailing south back to the Tjarno harbour after another day spent in the grips of the April North sea. The cold of the metal is creeping up my fingers, reminding me how cold is the water on the other side of the railing. It’s all about boundaries here, the metal hull of our tiny ship, and the grand ocean all around, the curves of the coastline where the sea meets the land, the horizon – the thin red line between up and down, between the day and the night, at sunset… The night comes so slowly here, as if the Earth is trying to make it up for those long cold and dark winter months that have just passed and with the first touch of the spring sun, she just wouldn’t let go, she just wants more and more of its warmth and light, until one day in the middle of June the night disappears completely, the sun gently touches the horizon , dives into the water west of the Tjarno harbour, and in a few minutes comes out again…
And somewhere deep below us are the coral reefs, how weird it seems that in these cold seas there are places and life one would expect to find somewhere far South, in the tropics and in the deep-blue sea of the Equator…. Slowly and steadily the thin metal ropes are lowering the lander with the video camera down to the reefs, in a few hours it will come to life, lights on, tape recording, lens wide open, opening our eyes to this strange underwater kingdom. Before that the Swedish underwater robots controlled from the deck by the steady hands of the old captain will have to finish their job and overcome the currents and the darkness, to find their way through the dark labyrinth of the bottom and find the perfect spot for our underwater eye… and in the dark corners of the reefs, just beyond the reach of our lights, mysterious sea creatures will be wondering what are these strange and clumsy objects that are invading their world…. After a few hours of struggling with ropes, winches, pullies, joystick controls and cameras, clumsy robot hands and even clumsier students on deck, it all worked out. I gave my prayers to the gods of electronics and Murphy, hoping this time nothing would go wrong and I will get my precious videos back to the ship. We shall find out pretty soon, in a few more days when we come back to pick up the lander hoping the creatures and ghosts of this dark ocean have spared it.. It could have been so much simpler and fun, imagine a little fishing boat anchoring in the a blue lagoon , tropical midday heat and the sun is high in the blue skies, scuba divers with big yellow tanks on their backs roll over the side of the ship, then comes a 30 meter descent in crystal clear waters ( what better way to fly than diving in such waters..).. Up North things are difficult and complicated, and so are people, all so experienced and strict, hardy and secure like large chunks of granite boulders carried across the lands by the ice sheets that covered this place only a few thousand years ago. You can see it in their eyes at sunset, all people from the North would have this flame in their eyes, ‘yes we survived another day and we shall continue again tomorrow, and let the summer days get closer and closer and then we shall celebrate.. before winter comes back again’..
We are all very tired, the old Irish sailor who seems to be the closest acquaintance of that sweet pain in the end of the day is on the main deck talking to the Swedish captain about the deep blue, the English and Greek coral reef researchers are sitting speechless at the deck staring at the amazing colors of the setting sun . And me, I’m there too, content, cold and happy, in the hands of forces of nature stronger than me, and one in particular, so distant and incomprehensible, and yet so close and beautiful that it hurts. I am trying not to think of her, yet it seems as if the whole North is arranged itself so that the invisible threads of my thoughts and memories would take me back to her again and again, would make me travel a thousand kilometers south and look for her… how long has it been since that cold and dark April rainy day when I left, days, weeks, months? I can still see the gray skies and and the faces of the gray people sitting in the cantina looking as if knowing nothing’s about to happen today, I’m in a rush to load the car and head north , away from this place, back to Sweden. She’s there too, passing through the rain like a ghost, I run after her and pass her the little piece of paper with words trying to say things are so beautiful that I want to cry… Where are you? Is the dark April rain still falling down on you, did you at least for a second believe me and my inexplicable confidence that it must be so, that you are bigger and brighter even than the nuclear explosion-sunset taking place in front of my weary and amazed eyes…
Where will the wind in the invisible sails of our metal ship take me, will it bring pieces of these strange and true days back south, back to the heart of darkness on the shores of the Lesum river.. How many roads do I have to travel until I finally find myself? I want to be the man sitting on this ship, forever lost in the intensity of this moment, and later when I come back to you, still be that man, though I know you wouldn’t be waiting for me anyways…. Even the random music coming out of my headphones seems to be in tune with the world around, turquoise hexagon sun,boc and the beats and beautiful harmonies of the track blend with the images of a million shades or red sunset projected on my retina, and it all neatly fits into some unknown folder in my memories, waiting for me to return and be there again… the cold touch of metal on my gloveless hand, the taste of salt, the cold northerly wind and the warmth inside…
April 2006, Tjarno, Sweden


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