I have walked all over this island, strolled, wandered, sauntered, explored its hills and valleys, woods and pastures. It is not a very big island and most of it is tamed into a park. There are small pockets of near wilderness. Leftovers that are to troublesome for the everyday city people to reach and to awkward for the park management to cultivate. Some of these are, or used to be, free zones for gay boys inclined towards bodily adventures among rattling leaves. Others exhibit installations of cans and bottles. In summertime a green shrubbery filled with birds and a steep hillside together make a hidden land for one or two of those without a home that there build shelter of tarpaulins and plastic sheets. A broken mirror hanging from a branch. A chair with three legs leaning on a mossy stone. A ring of stones around ashes. A temporary land. But most of the Island is well kept. To well even and now days I seldom take my walks here since it has to me become to familiar.
But today I have no wish to take a long walk, explore or get away. My studio just feels dusty and enclosed. Two newly made paintings stare at me. I stare back. Stare at their flaws. Stare at my own flaws. Stare at the filter I lay over the things I have made. My fingers twitch in their will to do something drastic; tear that veil into pieces, make a Fontana cut through to the other side, whatever that might be. I try to focus on the bits and pieces I am pleased with. Try to pat myself on the shoulder. Hang the pictures in my room nicely as if they were good and ready. Sign them and sigh.
Arrange my colours and brushes in a circular pattern on the table. Put on some soothing music. Make a new, white, big paper ready to be smeared with my attempts. Anything can happened there, a wondrous new world can emerge, a tricky way for the mind to make somersaults over enclosures, beautiful licking on the subconscious, straight on roaring clarity, sniffling personal poking or all-embracing revelations. That is what I tell myself, but the paper in front of me stubbornly replies that it is merely a blank piece of matter and refuses to promise anything or let itself be more than itself. “- Ok. You stay white and proud, flat and one-dimensional. I am out of here. Ashole! ”, I say out loud before I stumble down the stairs, grab my big winter-fur; hide inside it and walk out.
That white paper has blinded me, sent my eyes looking inwards instead of outwards. It is the automatic surround scanner and body memory that keep me from walking into trees or falling into the water. It is not a specific line of thought that keeps me occupied but more of a viscous, gluey mass making no room for clear light or open mindly vision. A shrubbery of autumn wet and black poky sticking dead branches. Brown slow mud on the ground and an evenly stubborn grey sky that has stopped breathing above.
I stop. My unfocused walking has left me at that spot where there was a homeless camping last summer. Only an empty trampled circle is left. Nothing left but a broken bottle and the burnt spot where the fireplace used to be. I look around hoping to find something, what I do not know, but something. I kick around in the brown leaves under the bushes that enclose the opening but find nothing. The stone that acted as leg number four for the vanished chair has evolved. It is now in itself the place to sit on and I stop kicking around, sit down and stare straight into the bushes without seeing. I sit there, making a tunnel in the air in front of me with my eyes, for I don´t know how long. Far away the constant mumbling of city sounds. No wind in the branches. No birds in the bushes. I takes a long time before I realize that I am staring straight into an actual little tunnel in front of me. There is an opening between the cliff side and the bushes. A dark nearly perfectly round hole big enough for a small child to walk straight into, or a grown man to hunch down and wiggle in through. I imagine it is the path for some animal. Maybe it is the island fox my neighbour told me about that uses it. Its lair could be somewhere in there, in the brushwood. I bend down and look in more because my bottom is getting cold from sitting at the stone and I need to move than because I really think I might see anything interesting.
The tunnel is only small at the opening, gets bigger inside. It is a path following the side of the cliff which leans outward and here creates a nearly perfect half arch continued by the half arch of the bushes on the other side. The leaves that make a brown soft carpet on the ground are left dry and protected. As I look in there is a sudden glimpse of sunshine is making the tunnel glow, asking me if I want to enter.
As I rise after having hunched through the opening I am met by a blackbird staring at me. It is standing in the branch flickered sunlight in the middle of the arched tunnel, head tilted. As I walk towards it it jumps from one sunny leave to the next further into the tunnel, each jump making a rustling sound in the otherwise silent still air. I follow slowly, careful steps attempting not to scare it away. Now and then it stops and look at me, as if on its guard or as if checking if I am coming with.
The tunnel is about six meters long straight and then makes a turn around a corner of the cliff around which the blackbird disappears. As I follow I see the tunnel end in a sunlit little opening. There, on the three legged chair, leaning backwards, back against the cliff is Prom sitting. It looks warm, he has taken off his jacket and his T-shirt is blinding white in the sun. He holds his hand out and the blackbird sitting there is a contrasting black hole in the middle of the picture. The birds yellow beak and Proms fire mask/helmet are blazingly sharp colours in a surrounding otherwise as devote of all colours as an old sepia photo. This is a small space between the back of an old wooden shed that the boat club use and the cliff, surrounded by a shrubbery so dense I can’t see out.
The blackbird looks at me for a moment and then takes off. Prom slowly lowers his outstretched finger as he says: “- Hallo Rikard. Come sit in the sun with me for a while!”. There is a chair wooden chair, with all of its legs intact, leaning against the shed. I take it and place it next to Prom in the sun. It is surprisingly warm and I too have to take off my winterjacket. Prom is quiet, just leaning backwards, balancing his three legged chair on the two intact back legs. I to lean my back to the warm cliff behind. We stay quiet. I close my eyes and watch the light go red through my eyelids. Side by side we sit in the sun for a long time. When I open my eyes Prom picks up a bottle filled with bright yellow liquid from a pocket in his jacket hangong over the back of his chair. “- Lemonade?”, he asks, picking up two little glasses and two drinking straws from another pocket. I then realize I actually am very thirsty. It is much warmer here than it ought to be this time of year, must be some kind of little micro-climate-zone in this little place protected all around, sun reflecting on the cliff. Satisfied by the sweet drink I lean backwards again, as does Prom. The warm sun makes me drowsy and I am on the verge of falling asleep when I hear the faint sound of leaves moving. When I open my eyes I see that it is the Blackbird jumping from leave to leave in the tunnel again. Prom has stood up and is watching too. The bird jumps further in and around the corner of the cliff. Prom looks at me waves a little wave. I wave back. Then he enter the tunnel as if to follow the bird. I am left alone, and it doesn’t feel odd at all. First I think that he soon will come back but then, as the time moves on, realize that he probably will not. The sun is still shining and this is a nice place, but without Prom there I feel less content, to lonely and I stand up to look around a bit closer. The place is totally surrounded. The only way to get there without a machete or climbing ropes down the side of the cliff is the way I got there, through the natural tunnel. There is nothing there but the two chairs, leaves and some sticks on the ground. The wall of the shed opposing the cliff-side is a flat wood plank without windows about two and a half meter high. I look up at the sky that is clear blue before I decide to leave to.
As I come out at the other end of the tunnel a raindrop falls on my face. When I look up at the sky I see a large black cloud rolling up covering the sun. The first drop of rain is followed by more. A sudden gust of wind shakes the tree and rips off some of the few leaves still clinging to its branches. They swirl through the air and I hurry away to get home before the rain really sets in. As I get there the wind has picked up considerably and there is leaves flying around all around me like little crazy autumn butterflies in an evil rain dance. They are mercilessly struck to the ground when the rain breaks loose. I just make it to the house.
When I make a fire in the iron stove I hear the wind howling in the chimney. That I was sitting in the sun with Prom just a quarter of an hour ago, warm and without a jacket on, with bare arms. Well, it seems dreamlike and nearly surreal.
On my table is the big empty paper. A picture is invisibly settling there. Don’t know if it is good, bad or even where it came from or where it is going. But there it is, and unless I have anything more important to do I might as well make it less invisible.