Do I start with the bear? Why not. This isn’t about chronological or geographical correctness.
A tale, written some fifteen years ago. A young bear awakes in mid-winter slumber. Does something such young ones don’t do in real life, I suppose: he wanders away from the warmth of his mother’s body and sticks his head out of their cavern. Beholds the night sky and snowy mountains in a bluish light. The moment turns him into a bear with a story. When told to a stranger last night, the story carried the power of enchantment because of the moment and of the circumstances of the telling.
On to the Baltic amber? No. First, I’m in Denmark, thirty-three years ago. My weekly stop in a half-decent hotel for the joys of hot water and a private sleeping space. The breakfast table is a common board arrangement. I sit facing a boy of about nine; his glum parents exchange glum-sounding Danish words. While holding out my coffee cup to the waitress, I notice the boy fiddling with the salt shaker. Yes, the old trick. I look the boy in the eye, hold the shaker upside down over my plate. Surprise? No. When the cap and the salt land in a heap, I should have faked some emotion, I guess. The boy looks so disappointed.
Then, out into the streets of Copenhagen. A jumble of memories from both visits. All of them combining the same light-hearted feeling of elation. A visit to Georg Jensen’s; street art; herring; the magical shop filled with Baltic amber. A large piece of which I held in my hand, all those years ago. The memory and the stored warmth of it came back to me last night. The specific golden umber shade of burnt sugar.
The something entrapped in resin. Animal? Mineral? Plant? I still don’t know what it was. Something magical about the sight and the shape of it. Something with a story.