Notes from Nowhere

föstudagur, september 16, 2005

Meet the snowline

The tall, pretty girl with young eyes like timeless lakes never rippled, at information, has confirmed that I'm not the average tourist. I like that. I think it was the queries about where in town songwriters from other islands might perform, where to meet the Sami and where hear their music. Better known as Laplanders, apparently they have 400 words for reindeer, but one of their words has passed into international use, but also guides and inspires much of my creative life. That word is Tundra.

Now I have been on the train North, for five hours straight, from already the furthest North I've ever been. Each second that passes pushes back my frontiers; each centimetre I travel takes me closer to the cold, infinite wastes, the closer to absolute zero, the closer to love, death, rebirth.

For hours we could have almost been in a taller, tidal Scotland: but then something changed. First the gray granite streaks gave way to pine and scree steeps, and then to mighty, dense, cold, nameless masses. Around the train I saw short, staggered fences that I thought might have been placed to protect the supposedly ubiquitous elk, but I gradually realized they were designed to shelter us from avalanche.

Then as we went through our first snowline, and the leaves turned the whole land a monochrome like sepia, white and green- grey, I saw that this truly is another world. Oh, North, I have always felt in my skin the small perimeter of my native island. If I can keep my eyes open to you, my heart can at last start to open to the true scope of this big World. I have never seen in my life the number of silver birch that I've seen in the past few hours, yet they represent surely just a negligible fraction of the trees here. I've never been able to imagine how civilisation keeps on burning its midnight candle, never understood where all the physical resources came from that sustain even just my life. I've travelled a tiny strip of maybe a third of your length, Norway, and now, at last, maybe now I can start to imagine.


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