Why do we love these wild, cold places of the north so much? We both feel drawn in by the landscape and people of this country that feels opposite to Australia in so many ways. But both have vast horizons, extreme temperatures and wide open skies.
We took the SL night train to the end of the line – as far north as we go go via rail.
Why does this landscape make our hearts race?
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood expresses it best:
BECAUSE WE LOVE BARE HILLS AND STUNTED TREES
by Margaret Atwood
Because we love bare hills and stunted trees
we head north when we can,
past taiga, tundra, rocky shoreline, ice.
Where does it come from, this sparse taste
of ours? How long
did we roam this hardscape, learning by heart
all that we used to know:
turn skin fur side in,
partner with wolves, eat fat, hate waste,
carve spirit, respect the snow,
build and guard flame?
Everything once had a soul,
even this clam, this pebble.
Each had a secret name.
Everything was real,
but didn’t always love you.
You needed to take care.
We long to go back there,
or so we like to feel
when it’s not too cold.
We long to pay that much attention.
But we’ve lost the knack;
also there’s other music.
All we hear in the wind’s plainsong
is the wind.
(Originally published in the Irish Times, September 2015, in a project asking poets to respond to the work of WB Yeats.)
Travelling up through the north of Norway into Swedish Lapland and then back into Norwegian Lapland – Troms County – was such a magical, dreamlike experience our eyes were hurting from being on their stalks so much and our mouths dry from being open in awe.
Superlatives are not enough – you have to save your pennies, beg, borrow or steal and get over here…
At the end of our 16 hour overnight train journey from Sundsvall Sweden to Narvik – we were met by the lovely Torunn who kindly drove us the hour to our accommodation in Grosnes on the edge of a fjord….check out the listing on airbnb – highly recommended and it is managed beautifully by the local village. They are so generous and happy to share their time – even leaving a leg of wild lamb and organic home grown vegetables – thank you Magnus!