Sunday Nature Call, uke 43: Run Clockwise, water on both sides
Run clockwise, water on my left. Run clockwise, water on my right. At some point I ought to get wet.
The end of October nears in Norway. This weekend the clocks returned to Standard Time. I’m in Stavanger, the oil capitol of Norway, their Houston. A local told me they haven’t had snow in two years. Another said, “well, there was a little on one day last year but it melted quickly.” There are still green leaves on some trees here. There are planters with flowers in bloom, I don’t know what they are called but they are pretty.
I would expect everything to be dead and bare by now. Ah, but the magic of the Gulf Stream distorts the latitude and seems to hold time. The autumn is attenuated: daylight fades but the leaves don’t. I am disorientated.
X (?? ?)
Rådyr (Capreolus capreolus)
In Stavanger I was able to run clockwise, keep water to my right, and water to my left and never have to go for a swim. Well, I’m talking about two different runs, physics and geography can’t be so easily manipulated.
After a day of teaching at Bergeland Vidergående Skole I was ready for a challenge and change to stretch my legs. A couple of teachers at the school suggested I run around Stokkavatnet, a local lake. I got a recommendation for a bus that could take me to the lake for the run, I expressed my gratitude. I had no intension of taking a bus.
A typical day in Rogaland, cool with a hint of moisture: perfect for running. According to the internet I could probably complete the run before the rain arrived. “Probably” was a chance I had to take. Grey skies, little wind, and plenty of energy to burn, it was time to go.
The run to Stokkavatnet from central Stavanger was to travel through several worlds: old construction, oil soaked dreams, nature, nurture, and then back. I mostly missed the rain, which in Rogaland means that you might have gotten a little wet but not drenched. There is a big difference. Tuesday.
Up the hill and west from the city center. So much of Stavanger reminds me of Bergen, the locals would disagree, I’m sure. The first neighborhoods are historic construction, I would say pre-WWII, the defining line with which I am familiar in America. These home were wood-sided, looked like they fit the mold of authentic Norwegian construction, and mostly in white paint.
I was told by a local professor that this is a desirable and expensive part of town. As an American, I would expect more bling and sparkle, these were subdued, almost staid. I guess the local and historic qualities made up the for glamour. Keep running west, quiet streets, a woman is pushing a pram, the grass is green, the cars parked along the road are ordinary.
Oil has made Stavanger. My run further west reaches newer construction. Homes still in the style of the dominant architecture but larger, more polished, more glass. There is less peeling paint and fewer old cars.
These are homes built on oil. Are they better? I don’t know, but they are different. The lawns are bigger and I see a couple of basketball hoops. Ex-pats?
Past the boom-time homes lies Stokkavatnet. I am trusting it is a natural lake, corrections are welcome. Grey skies hampered my ability to have a sense of direction – where was the sun? I ran down an access road to a path ringing the lake, a couple was finishing a walk. I decided to run clockwis because I expected most people to go counter-clockwise.
The path skirts the lakes, it runs in and out of trees. Some are hulking shafts, somehow spared by industry. Many ducks are on the lake, a strong showing of Bluebills but the mostly Mallards, the namesake. As I ran past an area of grasses in the water I saw that it was full of duck plying about and having about as good a time as ducks could.
Drops being to fall. I pass the golf course and am reunited with memory of college of the early 1990s. My college roommate gave me a golf bag tag of the Stavanger Golf Course all those years ago, he’s a mensch. I reunited with the sign, the symbol is the same. I feel comforted.
Drops are now a shower. In the distance a SAS jet climbs in the sky, in the background is blue sky. Here, I’m getting wet. Still running.
I pass a women I passed before, she is walking counter-clockwise. We have nothing to say. A fork in the trial. My gut says hug to the right, the sign points left. Screw u gut!
Bambi catches my eye. Well, Bambi’s mother caught my eye and then I saw the fawn. It’s okay to stop and just look. My phone camera is almost pointless but I’ll try nonetheless, everybody does it. I run again and connect with my route back to town, back through time.
Many bridges’ road. My new friend lives on Hundvåg island. The geography of Stavanger is titillating, so many peninsulas, islands, hills, roads, and bridges to connect them all. I see them all as challenges, invitations for exploration rather than burdens. Oh, to be a tourist. Thursday.
I run with my smartphone but that can only do so much. I think I use it as a security device, it’s more important than having a credit card in my pocket. The web map said run east, I don’t like putting my life in to the hands of a web-based map, but I do it anyways.
I find the bridge and after a brief argument with the voices in my head I follow the signs to cross the bridge on foot and not what my gut it telling me. My gut also likes to eat all manner of awful food before bed, then the rest of the body has to suffer. My gut is a real jerk!
The bridge is big, a suspension style bridge without artistic merit. It’s practical and that is okay. Gray concrete and cables against a gray sky reflecting the gray water. The wind isn’t too bad. Over the water and then down to do a set of push-ups to failure. This is a failure bridge run: cross a bridge, do push-ups until you can’t do any more.
A couple of now weary steps and I’m stopped in my tracks by big ducks in the water. Awe man, I want a camera with a big lens on a tripod. My second look at eiders, magnificent. I immediately cross another bridge on a slippery steel sidewalk, Run. I think passing motorists are staring. Run.
Clockwise takes me past road construction, which in Norway seems almost comically hard. All that hard, cold and wet granite to fight through. The Vikings were tough but even they didn’t try to break through that. I run past a gang of soldiers or sailors walking back to post from the market. To my USMC upbringing they look sloppy, disheveled, and unorganized. In the Marines, walking to a store in uniform meant formation and someone singing a jody. Of course, when was the last time Norway invaded another country, maybe that’s the answer.
The wind has increased, is that a harbinger of rain? Run. Homes, some old and some new. Some fields that still are cultivated though I don’t know how – legacies of an isolated time. A time before oil money brought this island into the bosom of Stavanger and the lust of developers. The bridge was built, the rest is history.
Further I reach a natural area, a place reserved for the sun and wind, the grass and grazers. More sea ducks, more pastures. There is a point extending into the bay, dump trucks are creating new land, load by load: spoils from the new tunnel under the island. Who will own it?
The nature is augmented by trails, by a paddock reserved for horses and sheep to practice their trade and for people to watch, just for pleasure. A small art feature claims a clearing, why not? The trees and grounds are still so green. What time of year is it?
Evidence of civilization appears, a fenced off area. Workers are battling the earth to make a hole, I later learn it is an access shaft for the tunnel. A play area, a grassy amphitheater, a statuesque piece of art, the pit: so many things that don’t go together.
My paths winds, retraces and works back towards the beacon of the big bridge. I’m getting wet, I tuck my finger-griped phone into my sleeve. I run past a pair of women, they look like mother and adult daughter. They are walking a pack of dogs, there are two pups wandering amongst the adult dogs who seem to know the route and routine. Bridges: more push-ups, more push-ups. The wind is strong. Thursday.
To have somewhere to run or walk is critical, not just for individual health but for humanity. We need destinations that are more than asphalt roads and more than shoulders on the sides of highways. My home needs Stokkavatnet. I bet yours does too.