John Howe

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE

Dear X,

I am sorry to have been so much out of touch these last few years; working in a fantasy universe in a country which is already quite fantastical to many people, perched as it is on the lower rim of the Antipodes, it is hard to keep up with life as I used to know it.

With such fabulous landscapes, it’s hard to even keep a sense of self; the tendency is to disappear into the cloud and mist, so to speak, or to be swept away by the wind (which can happen here physically as well as metaphorically, and one is often left hanging on to handholds with both body and spirit).

I also seem to spend a lot of time wandering along the edges of things. Here at the edge of the world, it seems there are edges everywhere, where all you can do is hold on to your hat and peer out (in a few cases, trying to hold onto my lunch as well in particularly bumpy helicopter rides}. I find myself clinging to a lot of rocks watching waves crash at my feet – and on my feet, which usually entails a long slog in damp jeans back to my vehicle, which is invariably parked miles away (and usually uphill). I climb a lot of slopes and scramble up tree trunks, and haven’t dropped my camera. Yet.

P.S. I hope you got all the postcards

 

Dear X,
This is the place; the cliffs and waterfalls are unmistakable. Most definitely at the foot of the pinnacle where Asgaard stands in the high mist. Can you imagine Svadilfari hauling great blocks of rough-quarried stone up there for the Walling?  I hope I can find a way up one day, I know that the first ramparts are just out of sight in the cloud.
Writing this in some haste, as the helicopters have started warming up. We are off to search for Beorn’s abode, which quite frankly seems a little risky to me. Doesn’t he turn into a bear after nightfall?

 

Dear X,
The Shire at last! I can’t make out any Hobbits from this height, but they are quite small and apparently terribly good at hiding. I’d certainly scurry for cover if five red helicopters suddenly buzzed overhead. I think our approach should be more discrete, but the producers say my suggestion we go by pony is too hard to organize.

 

Dear X,
I guess I spooked them, and suddenly they lumbered off into the sea. (I’m guessing Behemoth, I don’t think Leviathan has legs.) Gave me a fright, though! I was lucky to get this photo before they got to deep water. I consulted Blake’s bestiary when I got back home. Very clearly he has seen them as well. (You stumble upon this kind of thing quite a lot when you wander along the Apophenian shores.)

 

Dear X,
Doesn’t it look like a suitably tulgey wood for a Jabberwock to whiffle and burble? I particularly like the fact that it goes back in there forever, even when I can see the skyline all around. An antipodean Ryhope Wood. I was tempted to go in and see what mythagos might appear. (I went in anyway; no mythagos, but found some lovely photos.)

 


Dear X,
Well, it WAS there. So naturally I had to climb it. And several others in the vicinity. People keep hollering at me to get back down. I keep trying to explain I’m on the lookout for Warg riders, but nobody takes me seriously. Something about crying Warg, or am I getting my fables mixed up? But honestly, don’t you think these are what would’ve happened if Henry Moore had raised statues on Rapa Nui? (Alien assistance optional, of  course.)

 

Dear X,
Here I am halfway up Yggdrasil! (If I’d known it was going to be such a climb, I’d have packed a more sustaining lunch.) There’s a LOT of non-native wildlife up here: a squirrel, a couple of ravens, I even think I saw a stag! Nary a weta, a tūī or a kākāpō in sight, though. Hope I can find a post office. Hope they have stamps.

 

Dear X,
Yes, it IS a dragon, no mistake. A sea dragon, of course. I nearly walked right by without noticing, which would have been foolish, as they are so rarely seen. Even this one looked nothing like a dragon from any other angle. Isn’t it strange how well things hide in plain sight?

 

Dear X,
The trees here are VERY strange. Perhaps it is the Coriolis effect? I haven’t tried the experiment of seeing which way the whirlpool forms in the sink, but the trees do seem odd.

 

Dear X,
This is the path to Tír na nÓg; walk out to sea on the path of the setting sun and you can reach the OtherWorld, or maybe the Fortunate Isles. This is the path that recedes but does not narrow, passing between dimensions, and therefore between worlds. Mirage, rainbow, all illusions that situate us at one distinct point are signposts to the other side. Unfortunately, the path sinks with the sun so I decided not to risk it. Echtrai and imramma are best dreamed about from the safety of shore, watching the deepening dusk.