There's something about the place, village, area where we moved to when I was 13 that keeps my attention. It does so mainly out of view, it's a persistent call which I catch once in a while from the corner of my eye, and it is gone when I try and focus.
It is a quality of place that stayed with me since the very first time I visited that place, I must have been 9 or 10. The village is small - about 250 inhabitants, it's surrounded by a few fields and then it's woodland - or rather forests for kilometers in pretty much every direction, interspersed with a bit of heathland and moors. It's remote, at the far northern edge of an administrative district, it means that the school bus journey took the best part of an hour. Just outside the village is a boggy hollow in the middle of forest. It has a story. - Of course.
The bull's hollow
A rich farmer had a farmhouse in that part of the woodlands. He was haughty and arrogant (how could he be anything else), and had been stalking an old deer for weeks. He neglected the duties of the farm, left his family for nights on end to stalk the deer. Without success. He grew more and more frustrated. One evening he cast a curse: If I will not kill the deer tonight, all my possessions, house and family shall go to hell. And of course, he did not shoot the deer and without fail, all and everyone went to hell: the earth opened up and swallowed everything that belonged to the farmer. Except the farm's bull. He had broken loose that evening - again - and since the farmer had only the deer on his mind, he didn't get caught, and thus the bull survived in sorts - and as a ghost he haunted the the village and its surrounding. Long, long after, the bull attacked the local shepherd, who prayed for his life to be spared. And it was. Out of gratitude, he carved the wooden door of the chapel which is still intact (and right next to my parents' house).*
So, there you go. That story freaked me out no end at the age of 9**; so much so, that when my parents told us a couple of years later that we were to move, but didn't tell us where to, I just proclaimed: yes, moving's fine but there's one place I do not want to go to: BOKEL.
Tough, I wasn't in luck. It was precisely that place that we moved to.
It is and remains eery, uncanny. There is somethig haunting but all the same intriguing. The German for it is unheimlich. A couple of the drawings last winter got a bit of that, and it found its way into one of the oil paintings too.
Low Sun, oil on canvas, 60x65cm
With my dad and my brother we used to go for walks, often in autumn or winter after nightfall. There are a couple of outlying farms, about half an hour walk in any direction, it was often to one of those that we would go. With a torch or just in moonlight. I think it'll be time for a few of those next week, just a shame we've passed the full moon. But I think the chapel will make my first nocturne - safely done from my parents' porch, looking across the graveyard onto the lit, rather cute little, red-bricked chapel.
*Thanks to Wiki you can actually read up on the geological specificity of the hollow - no journey to hell insight.: here
** Well, really it didn't take all that much to freak me out: dinosaurs, monster, vampires, alien starships, thunderstorms, helicopters, border controls, atom bombs, tanks ... take your pick, I'm sure it'll have had me scared.