LAND 03 In the frigid dawn, as I unpacked my gear on the corner of Studebyvej and Flæskedalsvej, I heard the evocative call of a crane for the first time this year. A hundred metres or so away, the crane paced slowly around a field, pausing periodically to trumpet into the grey sky. The crane’s mournful and haunting call would follow me for several hours as I wandered slowly eastward, echoing over the frozen fields and through the cold, still air.
There was no wind, it was dry and just over 0 degrees – perfect weather for a day painting in the field. All week I had been struggling with oil paintings in the studio, so I was looking forward to watercolours and being in the landscape. The sky was a heavy pewter grey, the sodden fields were umber, ochre, and green. The previous week’s rainfall had collected and frozen in the fields.
I headed east on Flæskedalsvej, a narrow and very quiet road with a patchwork of small farms, cottages, woods, and fields. I walked into a small private woodland that felt very seldom visited. I focused on the sounds – the Cretaceous screech of a jay, the ‘chup…chup’ of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, the distant mewing of a buzzard – but there were long periods of silence, and it was incredibly peaceful.
Later I crossed the main road and headed south again, skirting ‘Almindingen’ the large forest in the centre of the island which I will be visiting several times during the course of this year. I made camp and watched the fields from inside the shelter of the woods.
Despite the dry forecast, there had been periodic snow and sheet showers all morning, and now a fine misty rain set in. I headed east again over a more flat and open landscape – less shelter and larger fields. As the weather worsened my mood darkened and my eye was dragged repeatedly towards the huge industrial silos, mobile phone masts, and gigantic pig sheds that dominated the horizon.
Eventually I arrived at my destination – Østermarie Church. I drifted around the beautifully maintained graveyard before settling within the shelter of the womb-like apse of the original, ruined, church, dating from the 12th century. From here I was able to see the tower of the new church, built at the end of the 19th century. Soon after the clock struck 4 pm, the sun slipped imperceptibly behind the horizon and my day was done.
WEATHER REPORT – Overcast with snow, sleet and rainy periods. Temperature between 0 and 2 degrees. Wind 4 m/s from the southwest and west. Hours of precipitation: 3 hours. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.
STOPS with the BIVVY – 1
KILOMETRES WALKED – 10.30 km
DAY LASTED – 8h and 6 m
PEOPLE TALKED TO – 0 (I don’t think I even saw a living person the whole day, apart from a few motorists and couple of mountain bikers)
BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 26 species: Six new (Canada goose, Common crane, Woodcock, Siskin, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, running total = 35 species)
LESSONS LEARNED – If your tracksuit bottoms get knotted, untie the knot there and then – instead of waiting until you need to go to the loo again.
IN MY HEAD – In the morning, when not painting, my thoughts drifted to Downton Abbey (aaagh!), ‘Song 1’ by Superbandet, and my children in Nepal, Paris and Copenhagen – and in the afternoon, Biogas, intensive agriculture, environmental pollution, the power and interests of the individual, business, the state, compensation, greenwashing, capitalism, growth, equitable society, and a lot more…