Hej fra Lappland,
We have travelled deep into Sweden, to the far north, to Lappland. Linda took the wheel of the hire car to try her hand at right-hand drive. Hmmmm . . . We hurtled through the countryside on her leg of the long drive. Afterwards, I was in dire need of some therapy but we arrived safely.
Here there are nine groups of people who would identify as Lapplanders (they call it Laponia) including the Sami in this particular region. This is the land of the midnight sun. As well, the scenery is spectacular. It’s also somewhere that Linda’s natural affinity with all creatures great and small finds expression.
We ventured up to the waterfall to witness the midnight sun, a novel experience for both of us. It wasn’t, as we expected, a dull sunless period of time at all. The sun simply didn’t set. It was brilliant sunshine around the clock. The constant light seems to confuse the fish, the birds and the reindeer who were all out and about, as active as if it was the middle of the day. It would be good enough light by which to play cricket, though the photograph may look a bit dim in the foreground.
“dear little things”
Today we struck out on a hike up the nearest mountain, a conical peak with 360 degree views of two glacial valleys. On our way, we were rewarded with a close encounter with a tiny mammal with a coloured back clambering through the undergrowth. It was “a dear little thing”, said Linda. From the top we could see “a dear little lake” and even “a dear mountain stream”.
Just when I thought she might be overdoing the adjective, we were chatting in the bar afterwards with Lars and Stig. Lars described the habits of the reindeer in some detail, including his opinion that “they are very, very, very stupid”. Of course, Linda was having nothing of this and retorted, “but they’re such dear things”. Perhaps it was nothing more than a clever pun.
Linda’s affinity to the fauna is conveniently suspended at dinner time and this evening we dined on smoked reindeer cake and salmon trout. Later (yes, after dinner), we also hired a kayak, thinking that we should get into the cultural milieu, in the land where the conveyance was invented. Last night we had a sauna and tomorrow we plan to scale Kirkau, one of the highest points in this locale.
The Sami continue to live very much as they have done for centuries, catching fish and herding reindeer. In fact, they are nomadic people, following the migratory habits of the reindeer. This lifestyle is called transhumance. You may remember that lesson from junior Geography. It would have been in the coniferous forest topic, in the lesson soon after or before learning about the adiabatic lapse rate. Remember now?
Sarek National Park was declared along with nine others in 1905 by the progressive Swedes. Collectively, they were the first in Europe. The scenery is spectacular and easily accessible. The weather has been superb; sunny each day (and all day). The long drive north was worth the effort, even if the knuckles are still recovering their colour.