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 facet of local land. But thus absorbed, these country places are not as disconnected from their primal geography as are Shepherd's Bush and Parsons Green in
.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 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 ice-ground rock 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 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.