He looked up and down the deserted cobblestone street. Rows of neat cottages with thatched roofs and white plaster walls lined both sides. At one end of the street the docks of the small port of Korsør were visible. Beyond, a patch of open sea changed in color from bleak gray blue to a glittering light green and back again as clouds broke, then re-formed in front of the sun. The only sounds were the cries of curlews overhead and occasional toots coming from the port -- the whistle of a ferryboat loading for its trip across the Grand Belt.
Letting out an exaggerated sigh, Céline shouldered his rucksack, planted his stick on the cobbles and began propelling himself forward. Soon he'd achieved the swaying, shuffling gait that was his normal pace. With Bébert nestled in a sack slung round his neck, and in an overlarge topcoat that went almost down to his ankles, he gave what might have passed for a clown's impression of the Wandering Jew. At his side Lucette, with her erect carriage and dancer's poise, appeared less his companion than his keeper.
A half-mile from the port they found the Korsør police station. Mikkelsen had given them instructions to register there. In hesitant English, the local police chief spelled out the conditions of their residence in the area. After that, his English seemed to break down completely. He made a phone call to summon a taxi for them, then wished them a brusque good day.
The taxi, a large American sedan, had seen better days. Once the driver understood where Céline wanted to go, he frowned and said he didn't like to use that road in bad weather -- it wasn't paved. Céline pointed at the sky: Wasn't the weather good today? The driver glanced up doubtfully at the puffy white clouds scudding across a blue backdrop. As he looked, the sky became overcast again. He shook his head. Céline pulled a handful of kroner out of his pocket and began bargaining.
Minutes later he and Lucette were in the back of the battered taxi, bumping through the side streets of Korsør. The road ran along the harbor, then followed low tumbling shoreline dunes. They passed an old wooden lighthouse, a few small farms, a thin red cow or two; after that, nothing. The coastal plain stretched out in an unvarying sandy-yellow expanse, chalk white in places where morning frost still dusted a patch of moss or tree stump. The travelers noticed ice slicks lining the inside rims of ruts in the muddy road. Before long the driver got stuck in one particularly deep furrow, spinning his wheels intermittently for several minutes before the big car lurched free of the mud to slither a little further down the road.
Five miles outside Korsør the terrain began to undulate slightly, hayfields dipping off toward the sea in a mild slope on one side, climbing to stands of brush and sparse woods on the other. Soon the neatly cultivated fields were divided by boxwood hedgerows, clusters of lilac just coming into flower and rows of ornamental shrubs. Under the hedgerows the sandy ochre soil was brightened by spring blooms -- pale yellow primroses, deep blue and purple hyacinths, and wavy white anemones. They'd come to a large property bordered to the east and west by beeches and evergreens. Its several substantial buildings were all in the same whitewashed farmhouse style, with deep red wooden crossbeams and green-gray thatched roofs. An apple orchard tucked between the main buildings presented a showy array of white blossoms. To the south, several hundred meters away some smaller structures were partially blocked from sight by a dark bank of pines, beneath which the land dropped off in uneven cliffs to the slate-blue Baltic.
The driver veered off onto a rugged track that led toward the big thatched house at the front of the estate.
"Klarskovgaard," he said, grinding his gears.
from The Exile of Céline: TC, 1986
Numenius arquata (curlew) flying: photo by M. Buschman, 2007
Steilküste am Gespensterwald bei Nienhagen: photo by Ch. Pagenkopf, 2007
Baltic Sea: photo by Argonowski, 2008