fimmtudagur, desember 01, 2005


Reading a line in Óláfs saga helga K. 106 my eye skips, and for a moment I think Snorri has written about an early eleventh-century famine of squirrels. I am wrong, of course. It is merely an everyday grain shortage, but the idea sticks in my mind.

A famine of squirrels. I suppose that would entail a severe shortage of the animals. Such a thing might have occurred in early medieval Europe, the result of overhunting to support the trade in prized squirrel pelts, though as I recall the reverse was in fact the problem: squirrels were so plentiful in the forests of Russia that supply overwhelmed even the demands of fashion. The bottom dropped out the the squirrel pelt market and has yet to recover.

A famine of squirrels would not mean that squirrels themselves were experiencing famine. That would have required me to hallucinate a different grammatical construction. I consider this the next day on my way to a café, rounding the corner of a building where a fluff-tailed rodent of unlikley rotundity is trying his clumsy best to gain the top of a low ledge where someone has set out sunflower seeds.

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