Black Ice and Back-Loaders

We say goodbye to our forest friends, the frozen lake and – we hope – the bitter cold. Icicles hang from Ed’s beard and moustache as he hugs me goodbye. This is the coldest day yet, as we are soon to discover.

The ice on the road is hard and black. We don’t realise how dangerous it is until it’s too late. I grip Pete’s arm as the van spins round 360, slides off the road and into a field, crashing through a small wooden fence in the process.

It’s ok, we’re all right. A man driving behind us pulls up on the road next to us. He says he was waiting for that to happen (?!) One wheel is still on the road, but we’ve little hope of getting the rest back on unassisted, despite the planks of wood and roll of carpet Pete always keeps in the back.

We ask the man if he knows of someone nearby with a tractor. “Yeah,” he says. We get out of the van and into his car. He drives us up to some houses a few kilometres down the road and points. “The main house up there”. We get out and he drives off.

All of the houses look about the same size and it’s hard to decipher which the “main” one might be. We end up knocking on a couple of doors and windows before anyone answers. A very friendly old couple debate with one another about whether or not their neighbours tractor is broken and finally send us round there to find out for ourselves.

A man answers. He’s looking after the children at the moment but his wife is down at the farm and can probably help us. He’ll phone ahead to let her know we’re coming. As we’re walking down, we meet her coming up in a funny little 4×4 with no walls. She’s got a sheep stuck, she says, and has to go, but she’ll come and meet us at the van straight after.

We start to trek back the way we came. Pete goes on ahead, anxious the hazard lights won’t be enough to warn other drivers. We left the van sticking into the road a bit. I walk more slowly. It’s crazy cold but I want to take in the scenery and would rather walk for longer than stand about waiting. But then I come to a fork in the road I didn’t notice while we were driving up and am not sure which way to go. I wait around for a few minutes, hopping from one foot to the other and walking round in circles to keep warm. Pete’s phone is off.

A van goes past me. Shit, should have put my thumb out. I’m out of the habit. Finally a familiar little 4 wheel drive shows up. It’s the man this time. His wife will be following soon in the “back loader”. I hop in. It’s strange not having any wall to the side of me. There doesn’t appear to be a seatbelt either and I’m afraid I might just fall out.

I’m still not sure which way to go, but fortunately another neighbour drives past and directs us. News travels fast in the country!

When we get to the van, Pete has already got the planks of wood and carpet out and under the wheels. The woman laughs when she sees them. She grinds up behind us in her “back loader” – a giant tractor – hurrah! She has bungees and a big bright light. She knows what she’s doing. I thank her profusely, but she just says she’s used to it. I imagine bedraggled English people stinking of woodsmoke turning up at her door every other day in need of towing out of ditches. Country life in Denmark must be hard. Apparently we have chosen the coldest day so far to get stuck. It’s -23!

Safely back on the road, we’re still a bit shakey. We deliver some blankets back with Ed’s friends in a town nearby and go in search of a cup of tea. If we hadn’t already decided not to go further north, coming off the road did it. Princess (the van) is just not equipped for this kind of weather. We will go to Stockholm to pick up Jim and take him back to Copenhagen, then South to Germany for us.

Jim has spent the past few days in an anarchist shared house just outside the city. Pete and I show up late at night with two sacks full of skipped fruit and veg, which seems appreciated. We are looking forward to a comfy night in a flat before the journey south, but are told a few people are coming round soon for a party. It’s 2am on a Tuesday night. Pete, Jim and I find a room on the other side of the kitchen to where the party is happening in the lounge and squash in, but there are no doors and I’m awoken every now and then despite my earplugs. I got to the toilet at 5am after being woken once more by a lone man playing connect 4 loudly. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack.

We’re on the road again, heading in my favourite direction: South. This time the snow by the side of the road is shrinking and becoming mushier with each passing kilometre. This pleases me immensely and I comment on it often. “Look, there’s hardly any snow in the middle of the road now!”

Pete and Jim endure my snow-commentary well. Pete’s Derrick Jensen and non-duality tapes spark off some deeply fascinating discussion which keep us going almost the whole journey. I love conversations like these, they open me up and show me new ways of knowing myself and others.

We rock up into Copenhagen as Wednesday becomes Thursday and drive through it to Teglholm (“Taylhowm”), where we receive the warmest welcome possible. A man with blonde dreadlocks and a red boilersuit bounces onto each of us in turn. “I’m so happy to see you guys!” he tells us enthusiastically. “Who are you?”

Our new friend is Martin. He and a few of the others already know Jim, but regardless, these are the friendliest bunch of anarchos I have ever met. As we’re shown around, I can’t help but try to imagine people from our social centre back home being this hospitable. Nope, can’t do it.

Teglholm was one of the two big convergence spaces during the Cop 15. It’s the one Pete and I never got around to visiting. During that time up to 2,000 people were sleeping here. Now there are around 20. We are shown to a long room with windows along one side and graffiti along the other. Piles of mattresses, blankets and roll mats are scattered around, along with the odd backpack or stray shoe. We are told once more that we are welcome and invited to make a bed wherever we like. Martin suggests building a house or a tower out of mattresses, but we are tired and opt for the boring traditional model of two single mattresses side-by-side, gratuitously piling on blankets despite being warm inside. A good nights sleep at last.

We are awoken at 10am by Martin bouncing around shouting about breakfast. He’s still in his red boilersuit. Where does this man find his energy? In the kitchen we find porridge, fresh coffee and plenty of smiles. What a wonderful place this is. Let’s stay a few days!

2 thoughts on “Black Ice and Back-Loaders

  1. Pingback: The Floating City « A Girl and Her Thumb

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