This was my house.
It is built of good, solid oak from the forests that covers this province. It is the same as all the houses around. There is a peaked roof covered in tar for weather. The walls are painted red, the colour of ox-blood. There is a porch with a hanging chair that creaks in the lightest of breezes, a sound that came to be natural as the birds or the leaves. The rooms are small but always tidy, with fine square edges.
Who knows how old it is? No one keeps record here. We work and sleep, and work and sleep. They say it is remembered in the stories but everyone is too tired to tell stories. It is enough to work and sleep.
Bendt Ingemarsson built it, that we know. He came from the sea, a land of open space and perspective. He was seven foot tall and stretched a lot and bellowed like the moose. He was not from Smaland anyway. Ingemar, my father, came to own it and he was the one who began to find out how and why. He was the first to have a pen and paper on a small, walnut writing desk.
No one knows when the big Tilia was planted. My father estimated it was as old as Jesus Christ himself, and he was a strong religious. I sat in its branches and judged the passing seasons. In spring the bees were thirsty for all the nectar of the Linden tree and I envied Ove in the next valley who must have collected such honey from them. The ants had nests in summer. I would stick smoking twigs in the hard sand and watch them pour out. The owl had a house there too. One day I found the minuscule remains of a jackdaw chick pushed from the nest, stared and imagined that all animals closed their eyes when they died. I tried stuffing that bird, with stones from the shore.
It was the first tree to lose its leaves and the first to recover them, after the flimsy birch. Summer was at its height when its head of heart shaped leaves thrashed under a blue sky. In autumn I learnt my first story, of Siegfried who swam in a bath of dragon’s blood to gain immortality. A single leaf of the linden tree fell right onto him and stuck to his leg.
The only weakness he carried with him was the shape of a heart.
Each time the leaves fall, every September, I run and catch them. They are like stars for wishing but that is stupid. When they scatter on the ground they are more like islands in a sea, all fragments and each a separate place.
345 total views, 1 today