National Geographic : 1940 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Willis Lindquist THE CHARGE OF THE BIKE BRIGADE The strangely assorted riders are not starting a six-day bicycle race, but awaiting the green light in downtown Copenhagen. The city's cyclists must observe the rules of the road, using hand signals for stops and turns as motorists do. On a twelve-dollar bicycle the author pedaled from town to town through Denmark. twists, the bobs, the turns, the clapping of hands, the hooking of arms, the skirt-flying twirls, and something that looked like the Russian heel crush. THE LURE OF CHRISTIANS( In his letter of welcome the doctor had expressed a hope that the sun would shine during my visit "because Christians0 must be seen in the sun." I think he was wrong. The island lies bare to the four winds and the four seas, a barometer to their every whim. It is that moment-to-moment change, that habit the people have of look ing into the sky for the unexpected, like a skipper on the quarter-deck of a windjam mer, which makes for the real charm of the island and puts zest in living. Here wild gales howl, sea gulls pipe and screech 24 hours of the day on their private rock sanctuary close by, the unearthly low ing of the foghorn continues for as long as two weeks at a time, and the combers thunder against the rocks. There is a soli tude here that seems to conspire with eternity. There is the might of the sea and the wind, and the stern gray grimness of rocky coast. These are the stuff of exist ence for these people, the unbending forces which inspire a self-reliance and a desire for self-expression in the island's children. During the last night of my visit the wind rose suddenly and began scudding over the sea. I made my way along a narrow winding path to the coast, stopping once to examine a hedgehog playing possum in the middle of the way. Then, at the sea, I wormed to the edge of a flat-topped but tress, with a bastion of patient black can nons behind me, and lost myself in the fury of movement far below. The next morning I stood at the stern of the cutter, looking back through a curtain of silvery mist to the grand palisades ris ing out of the sea like the walls of a feudal castle. White-winged combers advanced row on row and dashed against the rocks. Then the ramparts began to dim and the misty veil thickened until all was lost but the white wake in the green tossing water. It was as if I had suddenly awakened from a dream that had taken me to a magic land where men bow their heads to the deities of smoked herring and salmon.