When the customs officer wishes me a happy 48 hours in Copenhagen, neither of us realise what lies ahead. The friend I am visiting has laid some plans but surprises are in store.
My stay launches with a sunset boat cruise with the gang – convivial bubbles and snacks, a swim for them, then a delicious meal with some of the acres of chanterelles on sale in the local store.
As a teenager in the 1980s, inspired by an older cousin’s example, I dreamed of spending time as a ‘work-for-hire’ in a kibbutz. (It didn’t seem too far, workwise, from growing up on a farm but it offered novelty in other aspects.) I had forgotten that, until the BB and I arrived at our accommodation near the Dead Sea.
Fortunately, this was not our accommodation.
The Holy Land is baking and laid over with haze. Brown smudges the horizon as if a painter has worked it with her thumb. The buildings are chunks of dirty brown-grey or cream. From the aeroplane, they seem to hug the ground. Even the taller blocks hunker down. Soon, the reason becomes clear: flat roofs. They cut off and create a no-nonsense appearance rather than the illusion of uplift. Occasionally I spot a cluster of dull red roofs with low gradients; insufficient to alter the perception.
Tonight we stay in Jaffa (or Yafo) – the port from which Jonah set sail. Not only that, it was here that Perseus rescued Andromeda from the sea monster, Cetus. They have the rocks to prove it.
Waves break on Andromeda’s Rocks near The Sea Mosque.
I grew up in Western Australia. We may have had a deciduous tree with changing leaf colour on my home farm or local town but I don’t recall it. Once I found a few red leaves beneath a eucalyptus. Such excitement! I did see autumnal colour before adulthood but never more than a few trees together.
I moved to England several years ago and began to see what all the northern hemisphere books of my childhood were on about: pale yellow leaves en masse; the occasional – and, hence, for me, sought after – red-leafed tree; a dash of orange perhaps. It’s a pleasurable way to mark the transition to colder months but, at least where I live, leaves are brown and crunchy by the time they fall to the ground – or become so very quickly. The real beauty lies in the dark intricacies of bare winter trees. Autumn is a passage more than a destination.
In Norrkoping, Sweden, I finally got autumn.
This, as I alighted from the train:
Three cheers for responsible pet ownership. There’ll be no native bird, mammal or reptile deaths while this Swedish owner/companion is in charge.