Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Høstens Vemod

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  • David Haywood,

    In related news, Polly’s stile build was a guest feature on her brother’s YouTube channel:

    P.S. People keep sending amusing messages to the effect that it sounds like a lot of screw-heads get stripped in these videos. But Polly is using an impact-driver not a drill. That’s the way impact-drivers sound – very juddery indeed!.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • benkepes,

    Fantastic post David, I too suffer from høstens vemod, regardless of whether it exists or not. You've got an impressive young lady there, Swannanoa school is lucky to have her!

    Since Jun 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to benkepes,

    I too suffer from høstens vemod, regardless of whether it exists or not.

    Very sorry to hear about a fellow sufferer of a non-existent phenomenon! I’m hoping for an illuminating response from either the Norwegian embassy or the Public-Address-reading Finns. If not in the Finnish language then surely the put-upon Swedish-speaking minority in Finland must have a word for this…

    You’ve got an impressive young lady there…

    I’m already feeling sorry for her future boyfriends! Luckily she’s settled down into school without a problem (touch wood). Have had quite a few “You must be so relieved not to have another Bob” comments from teachers, which I have to bite my tongue about somewhat.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Noir whey…
    The black milk of Dunsandelsdottir – a treat few can a fjord…

    Next you’ll be saying Roald Amundsen only went to the South Pole looking for the Sun!

    But I do love the picture of the little one-legged Amish girl hopping to school – such tenacity – and so young to be a stile-maven…
    (Aside: I always found it interesting that while the Mennonites took their name from Menno Simms, the Amish took their name from Jakob Amman, yet stoutly refused to take the bait to call themselves either Jakobites or Ammanites, such steely reserve!)

    Autumnal fugues abound, Melancholia runs rife thru these Scandy-clad races – I do find evidence of Hostens vemod as ‘a thing’ – see: http://ensamvandraren.se/Dokument/hostens-vemod.pdf

    Höstens vemod
    Nu är det höst. Solen
    har ännu inte visat sig.
    Dimman sveper genom
    skogen ner mot ån och
    följer sakta det
    strömmande vattnet.
    På den öppna marken
    norrut ligger dimman
    tät. Sälgens löv är
    gulgröna och rönnens
    är djupt röda.

    Naturens tystnad ökar. Fåglarna som varit mitt sällskap i månader har försvunnit. Jag hör tranorna säger adjö ordentligt och tittar upp.
    Högt däruppe cirklar en flock ljudligt trumpetande.
    Fler tranor ansluter sig och efter en stund vänder de mot söder och försvinner i en perfekt formation.
    Det blir tyst. Ett enstaka meståg kommer förbi ett par gånger om dagen och sångsvanarna som övernattar i ån hälsar mig varje morgon.
    Eller som Britt Lindeborg skrev och Gunnar Wiklund sjöng för många år sedan. ”Nu sommarens alla fåglar mot söderns nejder sträckt och världen blir till frost och is för vinterns andedräkt.
    ” Men hackspetten är naturligtvis kvar.

    Which I’m sure you all agree is a wistful lament…
    What! you don’t speak Norwegian!?
    Must I do everything?
    sigh…

    Autumn melancholy
    Now it is autumn.
    Sun has not yet been found.
    The fog sweeps through forest down to the river
    and follows slowly the flowing water.
    On the open ground north is the fog close.
    Willow leaf is yellowish green and rowan tree is deep red.

    Nature’s silence increases.
    The birds had been my companion in months disappeared. I hear the cranes say goodbye properly and looks up. High up there circles a flock loudly trumpeting. More cranes joins and after a while they turn to the south and disappear in a perfect formation. The becomes quiet. A single mixed-species foraging flock comes by a couple times a day and Swans who stay overnight in the river greets me every morning. Or, as the British Lindeborg wrote and Gunnar Wiklund sang many years ago. “Now all the summer birds against southern climes stretched and the world turns to frost and ice of winter breath. “But the woodpecker is, of course, remain.

    (from: the google translation)

    Even the CIA notes on the Kingdom of Norway have a wistful defeated air to them:

    Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994; conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king….

    from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/no.html

    I blame the heavy water…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Sun has not yet been found.
    The fog sweeps through forest down to the river

    Well that certainly makes autumn sound like the pleasantest season. I admit to feeling quite spiritually uplifted after reading these words...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is a nice couple up the road who have been rebuilding their aged house in full sight and ongoing commentary of the numerous passers by. It's on a steep unfenced section with a great vista across the valley. They have a very smart agile baby and I recommended the Bob channel, and Polly building the stile, as aspirational child rearing videos.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3169 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    I should probably mention that during our brief visit I grew to like Norway and Norwegians a lot.

    Speaking unscientifically (I didn’t exactly do any statistically-valid data gathering) I had the impression that Norway has many of the positive social attitudes that I remember from my childhood in New Zealand. Particularly a sense of social responsibility and social fairness.

    I felt a certain amount of wistfulness (vemod?) that we don’t seem to have so much of that these days. (Probably to the extent that some people will claim that New Zealand can’t afford financially to indulge in Norwegian-style social responsibility and social fairness).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    They have a very smart agile baby and I recommended the Bob channel, and Polly building the stile, as aspirational child rearing videos.

    Thanks Hilary! Very kind of you to say that!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    What a fabulous reading treat for a Monday morning. Thank you David!
    Does hostens vemod have an inverse equivalent, whereby you can endure unpleasant things in anticipation of treats to come?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 820 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Does hostens vemod have an inverse equivalent, whereby you can endure unpleasant things in anticipation of treats to come?

    Thank you, Carol! We already have a word for that in English – Presbyterianism...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to David Haywood,

    Presbyterianism...

    Nicely played sir!

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 820 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to David Haywood,

    Does hostens vemod have an inverse equivalent, whereby you can endure unpleasant things in anticipation of treats to come?

    Thank you, Carol! We already have a word for that in English – Presbyterianism...

    Pff. Presbyterianism is about enduring treats in anticipation of unpleasant things.

    Have had quite a few “You must be so relieved not to have another Bob” comments from teachers, which I have to bite my tongue about somewhat.

    Heh, see we had our Challenging Child second. So all the teachers thought they were getting another Kieran, and bang, Rhiana. Haha.

    This is a wonderful piece of writing, David, thank you.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4644 posts Report Reply

  • JonathanM,

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading that David! Having been to Trondheim for Christmas while my brother was studying at NTNU I could definitely see how the long winter ahead could make autumn bittersweet. Would love to go back and see more of Norway. The babies in buggies outside cafes, and transporting a (rather grand) Christmas tree on the tram, cheese that smelt like diesel, and seeing the northern lights while crossing the (quite slippery) bridge across the river were highlights.

    Since Jul 2012 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Pff. Presbyterianism is about enduring treats in anticipation of unpleasant things.

    Ah yes, well there is that too, I suppose!

    I've just been thinking of you, Emma Hart, as I've been editing a short story of mine set in Timaru. A piece of literature highly respectful of Timaru, I might add (genuinely). Can you possibly provide a suggestion for a shabby-genteel suburb in Timaru? One with nice old turn-of-the-previous-century houses that's fallen on slightly hard times? Failing that, just a straighforward genteel suburb with nice old houses? Any help gratefully received (Google maps needs a layer for such information).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    Oh we should collect such terms. For instance, in Welsh there is "hiraeth". From the wiki:

    "homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire[ for the Wales of the past.

    Oxford and Merriam Webster define Hiraeth as: (noun) "a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that never was".

    And now I must go look at pictures of rain swept hills for a bit.

    Keep up the good work, David.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    What an intriguing outlook on life has Polly. And the means of expressing it.
    Actually every teacher should read her words to perhaps forestall the inevitable drive for conformity. Dunsandel school might be the very place to enable original thought and encourage problem solving skills. Hope so.
    My Høstens Vemod is the dread that Polly's clarity and originality might get weighed down and the flames flicker out.
    In a classroom some very bright kids stop asking questions. The others don't ask questions, the teachers doesn't encourage the questions, so they all must already know the answers. I must be dumb because I want to know but better not ask. Lie low!
    Go Polly!

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to JonathanM,

    cheese that smelt like diesel,

    Thanks Jonathan! I was quite worried about that cheese -- but strangely my kids scoffed it down without a problem. Every so often I've thought that I should stir myself to find out why it smelt like that.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to JonathanM,

    Yes, I would love to go back to Norway too. I was taken with the grassy roofs, the harmonious countryside, the incredible fjord-related infrastructure, the Hardangervidda and the fantastic museums of Oslo. There's nothing quite like Norwegian food either.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 820 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    I enjoyed this piece so much that I want to be able to read it again for the first time.

    Love the sound of your inventive and surprising children, and very sad at Polly's fear of her home disappearing again. I'm so happy that you have broken through to the other side of resettling.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Paul Brislen,

    (noun) “a homesickness for a home you cannot return to

    I definitely have hiraeth in spades then, Paul -- for pre-quake Christchurch. And I've met a lot of former Christchurchers who suffer from it too. A very useful word indeed for us.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Paul Brislen,

    Hiraeth as: (noun) “a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that never was”.

    Perfect for a state of mind; for me the loss of innocence about the nature of the land we live on. As well as for the phantom city, the one where I am waiting at the lights and suddenly realise the subconscious cityscape in the block coming up ahead no longer exists, and I am momentarily totally lost and unanchored in every way.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Yes, I would love to go back to Norway too. I was taken with the grassy roofs...

    I fell so insanely in love with the grassy roofs, Carol. I have several times suggested them for people doing new builds in CHCH -- to a few seconds of enthusiasm followed by "hmm... seismic loads", which is a very tragic. I've seen some work suggesting they can be done as a very minimal extra weight, but I guess people fear that it's too much like pre-installing graveyard turf above your family.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ianmac,

    My Høstens Vemod is the dread that Polly’s clarity and originality might get weighed down and the flames flicker out.

    I don't think you need to worry, Ian! Young Polly has a very useful conventional streak to her brain that enables her to fit in very well in school (in comparison -- ahem -- to some other members of the family). Then she simply turns on her stream-of-consciousness generator as soon as she's out of the school gate...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Hebe,

    Love the sound of your inventive and surprising children, and very sad at Polly’s fear of her home disappearing again. I’m so happy that you have broken through to the other side of resettling.

    Thank you so much, Hebe. We had a difficult couple of weeks with the refusal-to-leave-home phase, but the interview with our local councillor fixed it in one amazing session. His imagination was just about on par with Polly's. Hooray for local democracy!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • PaulVeltman,

    Hoskings vemod is even worse
    - as you watch Ol' Bittermouth
    misunderstand and mispronounce his daily affairs,
    and wonder is it the end of the day,
    or the end of the bloody world?

    Wellington • Since May 2016 • 1 posts Report Reply

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