Lonely Countryside Roads & High Strangeness.
I’ve realized I can’t stop myself sometimes, as with stories, statements and random words one after another like “it was on a lonely countryside road”. Heck, even variations like “on a dusty gravel road” or “on a desolate dust road at night” is my thing. I’ve found lots of tweets and other social media updates, and of course in a bunch of my longer, more ambitious writings, all with this hardcore cliche used over and over again.
Many times, maybe too many of them, the words often go into the subject of ufology. The thing is, as you can imagine, I prefer stories of flying saucers and aliens seen in the countryside, by locals and farmers. At night, or dusk or dawn, when the outside is as magical as possible. Ya know, all of them that’s so far from being “trained observers” as possible. Like all kinds of law-related uniformed personnel — and of course pilots appearing in videos supposedly leaked by Pentagon insiders. The show goes on, you know the deal.
I might be naive, but in my eyes they, the farmer by his truck or the woman on her porch, are just more convincing. Or maybe it’s the wrong word? I’d say what I’m looking for is that these witnesses and their experiences are magical, original, weird and always borders on the land of folklore and fairy tales — just as real as you and me, at least in someone else’s imagination.
So yes, on a lonely countryside road you’ll find me the day I’ll have my first encounter with a flying saucer and its occupants. Why? Because I feel…no, sorry; know that where it’s gonna be, the stuff of dreams that either will send me on a downward spiral into the rabbit hole or maybe, hopefully, enhance my life as it is, with a few sparkles of spice along the way to keep me afloat. But what else is it with these strips of land? The liminality of course. A lonely countryside road is a divider, and therefore the liminal space, between forests — and the road itself, on the other side, is the liminal space between spots of civilization. Perhaps it’s civilization that’s liminal spaces between forests?
My friend Vuk, of the Tracing Owls podcast, once said “we have chased the forest beings out and up in the sky”. Or similar. My memory is not what it was before. Why are the forest beings, the nature- or landscape spirits in the forest anymore? Deforestation is one thing, a serious thing, but there’s another more correct answer: because no one looks for them of course. The publication’s attention has been drawn to boring spots in the skies and complicated, dry political games about balloons and budgets. All that’s left are we, the few, who still venture out in the great green forests of Sweden to find peace and joy.
While the mass of forest is getting smaller and smaller each year, at least when it comes to old-growth forest, the reasons people find to get lost in it becomes less. A reminder I live in a country, Sweden, with 69% of the forest left — and it’s still rare to meet people out here, especially from the younger generation. So the country roads, the dusty, uneven hellish rollercoasters of badly cared for paths through the wilderness, those spots where witnesses countless times seems otherworldly beings disappear from, flying saucers hover over and strange shadow people lurking at the side of.
If there’s a borderland of strangeness, it’s those roads. Doesn’t matter if there’s fields or forests on the side, or maybe lakes and meadows. As long as the road goes there, surrounded by Pan’s green organized chaos, and there’s no city or highway nearby. That’s where it’s happening. Where the winged serpents dives after you, where the trolls behave like that Homer Simpson gif, and backs into the bushes to not be seen. Where fairies and gnomes call you. Where flying saucers hover above your head. Where dreams and nightmares come alive.
One thing I enjoy tremendously is to explore unknown forest roads. Just take the bike and see where it leads me. The thing with cycling in civilization is that you know what will be behind the next corner, you don’t know that with forest and nature around. Well, you know it might be nature, but it might also be a deserted house, an old military bunker, a stolen car, a lovely secret mushroom spot, red and blue berries and all kinds of animals. I remember once, maybe under the influence of something, I ventured into the woods, left the bike and was surrounded with pines in all directions — except up on a hill made of rocks, man made or not — I don’t know. On that hill, skillfully balancing, was a birch tree that almost felt like mother earth itself manifested into a tree.
I still go there sometimes. It’s a peaceful place and I can be alone.
The forest and its labyrinth of lonely roads IS high strangeness, and the more time you spend there, day and night, the bigger the chance is that you’ll meet your own minotaur. Like the phenomena itself these grounds are both chaos and order. Everything everywhere at once, order in chaos and chaos in order. To be frank, it’s its own thing. What else can it be? Why even make comparisons? Why even write or read this text, when it’s better to just leave the screen alone and go outside and let ourselves get lost?
I’m not a nostalgic person, but yeah, I feel joy when I dive into the past of high strangeness in Sweden. So many stories and experiences set on the roads that make the energies, human and non-human, travel inside, between and around these marvelous patches of wilderness. Once I was laying in the arms of my partner, looking out on a field. For some reason it felt we were back 3000 years into the past, like we had traveled in time. I closed my eyes and watched a herd of deers look at me. Then I was back again, into this time.
Yeah, it’s a constant flow of high strangeness out there. Dammit, I hope it gets warmer. Gotta get out, lay on the moss. Look at the sky. Listen to the animals around me. Maybe, just maybe, a stray cat will come by to talk a bit. I hope so anyway.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of fivebooks. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.