I am staying at Skarpnäck for a few days, some five miles south-eastwards from the centre of
Hammarbyhöjden - Björkhagen - Kärrtorp - Bagarmossen - Skarpnäck.... the names of the stations on the Green Line are places absorbed by the spreading suburbs - 'Hammarby Height', 'Birch Paddock', 'Marsh Cottage', 'Baker's Moor', 'Sharp Neck' - each one a south-eastward stride from the city, each a named facet of local landscape. But thus absorbed, these country places are not as disconnected from their primal geography as Parsons Green or Shepherd's Bush in London.
.I am staying for a few days with my friend Åsa Lind. The uncluttered calm of her flat, conducive to thoughtful writing, contrasts with the chaos of my home in
I leave the low apartment block, and meet three hooded crows inspecting a stretch of mown grass; we have suburban hoodies of a different kind in
. A three-minute walk brings me to edge of
a wooded area. I am soon on an uphill track among oak, pine, rowan and
bilberry. There is golden rod, juniper and meadowsweet; goldcrests twitter
overhead, invisible in the tree canopy, and outcrops of tough, ice-ground bedrock drowse
beneath moss and lichen. From time to time, I meet passers by, but they
are caught up in their headphones, in family life or walking the dog. I am exploring
the outback between Skarpnäck and Bagarmossen with fresh eyes. England
Little footpaths weave among the trees. I think this land belongs to the Kommun, but there are no signs telling me so. There are no charred remains of cars, though I do come across empty drink cans and broken bottle glass round the remains of a small camp fire. Fallen trees rot where they lie. I find an owl feather stuck into the rainbow-painted bark of a pine tree.
This wooded land at Skarpnäck is surely a small outpost of the breathtaking, ancient forest preserved at Tyresta, some 8 miles (13 km) away to the south-east. I fancy I could get there by walking a green line of my own, without once ever leaving the shadow of the trees; I should come back one day and try it.
|Mossy forest at Tyresta. Photo courtesy Lena Ohre.|