Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In anthropological journals you will find occasional mention of the "Hooded Ladies of Lanslund" -- In footnotes, implicit innuendos, little more than hearsay, vague tales quoted from legends. Direct information, however, remains sparse. Most accounts are little more than flowered renderings of the footnoted statements, statements which themselves do nothing more than hint at existence of the ladies. Whether this existence is tangible or fancy is left to speculation or even to faith. Are the hooded ladies a race of arctic Amazons, muscular and stern in their interactions with the hard environs of the Lanslund region? Are they tender like melting snow warming on Spring blossoms? Do they like to kiss?
If I could answer these questions I would be assured a doctorate. I jetted to Scandinavia, took a train to Kolari, as far north as Finnish rails were lain. From there I trudged the tundra, ever further, north by northwest, camping under the Aurora Borealis, long nights of exhausted sleep - and days of relentless treks through uneven land.
Finally I reached the lake country, an uncharted region with no official name, but in the mind one knew it could only be Lanslund. It was nearly dusk, and the Northern Lights began to flare. I stood before the threshold of Lanslund as one of the hooded ladies appeared out of the glowing shadows and stared at me. She did not blink. She stared in a self-assurance that needed not a word.
"Lady of Lanslund," I answered her Nordic silence, "I want to know you. I want to know all about you."
She did not speak, though she moved her head slightly in acknowledgement of my request. She extended a hand towards me, a universal expression of "join with me." My hand was in hers as she drew me into the timber surrounding the lake, then deeper still, past sleeping trees, into her abode, a tent of animal skins, warmed inside by the heat of our breaths.
In her tent she taught me. Gazed into me without a sound, pasting complex sentences into my mind, that I could never speak in words. I became dazed, I felt numb and saw only her, soon like a dream, where faces loom the size of novas. It is all I remember.
My next recollection is walking back with her the way we came. She led me to the Lanslundan frontier. I turned to look at her, encountered again that unyielding gaze, as immobile and inviting as the slabs of Stonehenge. I turned and traversed the tundra back to Kolari, to the train, the airport and ultimately back to the desk where I performed my studies. Still the same person, but different. Now I knew. I knew how to write footnotes.
Anyone stopping by is invited to post his/her spontaneous story and/or impressions given by the photograph above...