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Fireweed in Norwegian Wastescapes

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I had never noticed her before, until my first full day in Norway this summer. I was sitting on the train, on my way to a former mining town, the first place where I would root for a couple of weeks. After two hours dreaming and reading, the purple shades in the mostly earth-colored landscape caught me. I thought it was a foxglove. When I arrived in that town, where mountains and its forests had been destroyed to build more cities downstream, I learned it was Fireweed. In Norwegian: Geitrams. In the next three weeks, I observed how she bloomed in a strange way. First, the flowers were a bit lower on the stalk, but at the end of my stay, the flowers were on top. It signals the end of summer. Fireweed is one of the first plants to appear after a forest or brush fire (therefore the name); it also rapidly covers woodland areas that have been cleared by machine. Apparently, this weed can recolonize disturbed sites, wastescapes, even old oil spills. A guide told me that this plant came to this mining region after the railroad was constructed. A traveler, like me. I fell more in love with this plant, perhaps because I recognized some things of myself in her soul. The following text is a fictionalized story of my transition.


One night you finally woke up and had the strength to pull away that heavy stone, that burden on your chest, tightening you, killing you. And you climbed out of that cauldron, that compost bin. You felt them pulling at your body. The voices: ‘Serve me. Work hard. Be fast. Don’t be so naive.’

You got out of it. You took that first step. Because the old woman told you so. Another small step. And another one. And another one. You see a pink plant in the distance. The voices: 'It’s a foxglove. Toxic. Stay away.' But you continue. And when you are closer, you know it is fireweed. The survivor plant, the vagabond’s rose, the healer. On its way to the same wasteland that you escaped from, before you tumbled in that cauldron, with its black sticky moon-blood, with its mud, and the stones that started to grow on your breastbone.

The fireweed already had a beard, its flowers on the crown of her head. She talks to you, seduces you almost to join her, to return, to help heal the wasteland, to suck out the heavy metals, the ashes of burned trees, of venom. ‘Not today’, you said. Because you can hear the old woman whisper. ‘I’ve to dig out something first, someone’. You know the old woman is somewhere there, buried under layers of rocks and dirt. She is the one that cleans your mind, throws away the memories. She is the one that kills the voices. You have to find her, to find your complete self. ‘But we will come’, you assured the fireweed. Confidently. Because it was not the first time you had done this. ‘When your flowers are back at the bottom of your stalk. And we’ll bring seeds and honey.'

The fireweed understood and moved on. But she gave you something. She let you say: ‘We will come’. And you took another step, because there is some digging to do.

© Ein_serieller_Rooter 2021-08-25


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