Now she’s gone and I don’t worry, Lord I’m sittin’ on top of the world…

Sitting on Top of the World (Sitting on Top clip) has been recorded about a zillion times, but the version I heard first and fell in love with was sung by Jimmy Martin on the second Circle album from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  In the image below, ant-like people scurry atop Preikestolen (Preacher’s Pulpit) in Norway.  I’ve written about the place before…a chunk of rock sitting about 1,800 feet above cold, hard water.  Have you ever been close to the edge of some precipice, maybe a building top or high bridge, and had this feeling that if you stay long some irresistible urge would lead you to jump off?  Not because you wanted to do so, but out of some weird misfiring of synapses in your brain?  You would not be alone.  Many people have this sensation, and I felt it myself atop Preikestolen.  Not the fear of falling off…the fear of jumping!  In “The Imp of the Perverse”, Edgar Allan Poe describes it as carrying out an act simply because we know we should not- the imp that sits on your shoulder and whispers self-destructive encouragement in your ear.  Poe had issues of his own, no doubt, but the man also had creative genius.  He is usually credited as the inventor of the genre of detective fiction, paving the way for generations to enjoy crime-solving maestros from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon (“the Da Vinci Code”).  So, if you read detective fiction, you might want to check out Poe’s short stories featuring the Parisian detective C. Auguste Dupin so you can see where it all came from.  And if you might enjoy a rollicking old bluegrass standard, give the Dirt Band’s Circle Volume II some ear time…I think you’ll be glad you did.  (15 August, 2011  Preikestolen, Rogaland, western Norway)

On the road again…

Today’s world is, for the most part, mapped-out and sign-posted to a fare-thee-well.  You can still get lost if you work at it, and I can recommend some woods in Norway if such is your desire, but the days of setting out literally into the great unknown are behind us here on Earth…and our current understanding of physics pretty well rules out human exploration of even our nearest other planets.  Thus, it’s hard to imagine the mindset of a handful of hearty Vikings who set out around 986 to establish a settlement in North America.  Yep, American schoolkids still sing songs about Columbus, but nearly five hundred years earlier a bunch of guys in furry nightgowns and funny hats beat his expedition to the New World.  Columbus at least had the magnetic compass and dead-reckoning to help him wander across the Atlantic.  No one knows for sure what tools the Vikings employed during their voyage to God-knows-what, but there is speculation that they took caged crows along with them…once released the crow would presumably fly towards the nearest land and Leif and the boys would toodle along after.  I don’t know whether to think they were immensely brave, or just lacked better options back home, but crows??? I get cranky when my GPS doesn’t know road names in Greece (the Greeks don’t seem to sure either)…guess I would probably have stayed on the porch while the Viking big dogs were out on the prowl!  The image below was shot on a hike with friends in western Norway, the trail being marked in the usual Norwegian fashion.  (15 August, 2011  Preikestolen, Rogaland, Norway)

These boots are made for walkin’…

Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, is to be found in western Norway, but not without some effort.  Perched some 600 meters above the Lysefjord, it is a massive outcropping of rock with a nearly flat top hanging out over the water like a diving platform…no railings, no fences, nothing to keep the inattentive from tidying up the gene pool.  The hike up from the nearest parking area is only 2.4 miles, but you had better strap on your fortitude along with a stout pair of boots before setting out because it is steep, boulder-strewn, and in places not for the faint of heart.  At the top you may see people sitting casually on the edge of the precipice, dangling their legs and smiling for the camera, unaware or perhaps uncaring that some day that chunk of rock will slide down into the cold waters so far below.  If it happens at the right time of day, there could be dozens riding that particular wave on in to the next dimension.  With that cheery thought and the phrase “Darwin Awards” repeating in my mind like a skipped record, I scuttled on all fours towards the edge of eternity.  Turns out I lived after all, and I must admit the view from there is outstanding.  (12 June, 2011  Preikestolen, Rogaland, Norway)