“For I, too, am only here migrating
– Steen Steensen Blicher
On Øster Skaarup, in Thy, my father’s thirty-nine hectares
divided almost equally between good and bad soil:
to the west of Vilsbøl Plantage lay moorland,
to the east: dark and loamy earth his own father
cursed, for if spring brought storms, its wind
blew sand from the poor fields to dune the crops
maturing in the rich pastures of the east. Yet
despite my father’s wish to sell, the whittled
yield, the fact there was no profit in it, my father
tilled that land until his body could no longer
battle grit or weather or the truth that lay behind:
his children, who did not want to take up his fight.
Before the Great War, the owner of Øster Skaarup impregnated
his maid while his wife was lying in the county hospital. Hardly
acceptable for a member of the Home Mission whose emissaries
told him he had to leave, move to Vejle while the farm was put up
for sale and Harry, my grandfather bought it to try out his luck.
Hans Fisker owned the neighboring farm, tattoos
on both arms, mighty green anchors, reminders
of his seafaring days working fishing vessels
out of Hanstholm harbor. It was the North Sea
that had bought him his life on dry land.
He told my sister and I, he wanted pig-tails like Pippi
Longstocking, despite him being as bald as an egg,
that John Deere tractors would circle us and threaten
to fly if we didn’t walk past them with giant silent steps.
The Troldborg Man drove all over the district collecting milk.
He had an ironic smile from which nothing was misunderstood.
He would turn into a hare and run amongst the farmhouses,
listening with his long ears to what people said behind the curtains.
Then he rubbed the backs of cows, so they delivered their calves
before time. It was a kind of terror even children could understand.
My dad always listened to – ‘Æ Waihle’ on the radio.
The harvest didn’t come in, if the weather
didn’t allow it. The sugar beet remained in the fields
until the first winter frost because all autumn
it had rained, the mud making it impossible
to bring in the crop even with the best machinery.
My dad looked at the barometer which he had inherited
from his father: “It’ll be raining again tomorrow.”
And if it continued until Seven Sleepers’ Day,
it would rain cats and dogs the next seven weeks.
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