Monthly Musing – August 2021 – The axewoman cometh
“Careful with that axe!”
Now, it may or may not come as a surprise to you that I am no stranger to an axe. We have open fires and I can often be found chopping kindling in the Winter when we’ve run out and it’s a night for a fire. I know to keep all extremities well out of the way, I know how to use a long-handled axe and a wedge if necessary (not for kindling, though! J ) and I know most of the words to the Lumberjack Song* from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
What I have never done, though, is thrown an axe. Until this weekend, when my husband and I escaped for some time on our own (I hesitate to call it date time because is taking your beloved to throw axes really a date?!). We’d driven to a small place just over the Welsh border about an hour away from home that we’ve been wanting to explore together and after a lovely morning of breakfast in a café and a walk with the dog, we found ourselves standing with a group of families on a large field at the back of the local campsite where a young man was explaining how to line up a bow and arrow and throw an axe.
My husband has thoroughly enjoyed watching various TV series about Vikings and whilst they’ve been a bit on the gruesome side sometimes for me to want to sit and watch with him, it has sparked an interest in a part of history that he knew very little of and I’ve enjoyed talking to him about it. We’ve joked about whether I’d be on the front line with the warriors (because Viking women were as accomplished at fighting as the men) and whilst I think the answer would in all reality be “no”, we all like to think that we might be the hero(ine) of the story sometimes, don’t we?!
“Anyone fancy having a go?” asked the young man in front of us with the axe in his hand. Nobody moved.
And then I did because, suddenly, I really really wanted to throw an axe at the wooden block. Not because I wanted to prove that I would be on the first of the longships as the Vikings set out to conquer new lands, but because I felt the need to be connected to something ancient and somehow solid. We’ve spent the last couple of years learning to live with our own new version of the world and it’s been exhausting. I’ve said it before but I believe that every one of us is different after this experience, and stepping into the shoes of ancestors just for a moment felt like a comforting thing to do. I’m not sure that anyone seeing me approach with an axe in my hands several centuries ago would have found that comforting, but I hope you know what I mean!
And then, my turn over and my three axes thrown, I was more than happy to walk back to the car with my husband and the dog and resume my normal life. Yes, I did hit the target, and yes, I did feel like a warrior (wow, that felt great!) and yes, I so much appreciated that primal feeling of holding an ancient weapon in my hands. That was enough, though. I don’t feel the need to seek out any of the growing number of axe-throwing centres that are springing up across the country and our own axe is safely stored and won’t be leaving my hands at high speed under any circumstances unless there is another invasion of Scandinavian raiders but I think we’re probably safe there.
As for my inner Viking, well, she’s quite happy living in the 21st Century again and I’m quite happy knowing that she’s inside me somewhere. It never hurts to acknowledge your inner warrior from time to time, does it?
*Feel free to Google it, but be warned, Monty Python is an acquired taste!