The Old One

He who travels to the mountain where The Old One lives, will leave Mörkret (the darkness) behind. The road passes through an ancient forest, under century-old spruces, covered in beard lichen and inhabited by Siberian jays. The mires hold cloud berries and wolves have been seen.

The fresh water in the rapids comes from the highest waterfall in the kingdom of Sweden, in the depth of a canyon, only reached by the sun during midsummer nights, giving the fall a silver glow.
And only the wanderer who dares go there, all the way over the sharp and slippery rocks, will know that this is a place where winds are born.

The Old One overlooks this scenery from his lonely place on top of the mountain plateau. No paths lead there, and none lead away. Without a guide it is hard to find him, and some of those who go there to admire the oldest tree in the world are surprised, even disappointed, by his humble appearance. But he who has lived for nearly ten thousand years has nothing to prove. In harsh times The Old One survived as a shrub, crawling along the ground, biding his time. Now he is tall and proud with his own cones and runners.

The tree instills hope.

Blue mountains rise at the western horizon. They are often hidden in cloud masses, but every now and then they expose their glory. Somewhere between them and the tree is a border between kingdoms, one that has been moved back and forth throughout the centuries. It matters not. The nation is Norden and nowhere in it can a place farther from the coast be found.

Yet the ocean is ever present. In an unoccupied cabin is a tin goblet with reliefs of sea nymphs, mermaids and dolphins. Who left it there and why? It is a wonder no-one has stolen it.

In the cabin’s chopping block sits an axe. It sings when swung. The shaft is an open iron tube with two holes on the side. It can be played like a transverse flute, an axe flute. The tin goblet too has a beautiful ring and the two of them form a peculiar ensemble.

Logs are cleaved, fires are lit and fresh water is poured from the chalice.

And far, far away, high above these rocky domains and the cloud convoys relentlessly going north, there is a dance, as by winged creatures, without direction and without stealing any light.
The Old One stretches towards it – for a long time yet.

(previously published in Swedish, by Henrik Lind at

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