The Spring of Urð

When I was a little
boy in Minnesota, my grandmother used to tell me of the days when our ancestors sailed in open boats with dragons’ heads at the prow. “They crossed the northern seas and found their way to America,” she said. “Grapes grew wild for the picking. So they called it Vinland.” She also told me about the Spring of Urð, which watered Yggdrasil, the world tree, and of a nine-day horseback ride to the netherworld.

She told me many such stories, of remarkable things and places. As I grew older, I came to understand that these accounts were from a long, long time ago. But when I was a little kid I took all of them very literally and believed they were happening in the here and now. I thought the mythical Spring of Urð was just down the road from where we lived. I even seemed to remember having once been there--a quiet pond with swans gliding about on the surface. Around it was a garden of flowers and a grove of trees which hid it from sight, so only Grandma and I could find it.

One day I said to her, “Grandma, let’s go see the Spring of Urð.” But she shook her head and said it was in a faraway country. Then she saw the sadness and disappointment in my eyes, and she said, “When you’re grown up, Olaf, then you can go and look for it yourself.”

continued in Chapter 1


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