Reindeer Moss

Yesterday after 17 long hours in the train I got to Bodø where the ferry leaves for Lofoten.

After various adventures which you have to read Norwegian to hear about I was picking some ground elder to eat which I found in town and thinking that nothing like this grows on the mountain where I am going, only white reindeer moss. Just beside was a museum so I went in and saw a small unusual looking man standing and joiking to himself beside the Sami exhibition.

Naturally I got talking to him. He told me of an old aunt of his who was a shaman. Yes he said it was unusual for a woman to be a shaman but she was, and people came from far and wide to see her. Her name was Britta Sjulsson and even royalty came to visit her. She was able to read signs from birds and beasts and she also read the moon. Whether it was round or oval, which colour and the other stars. And she could predict the weather and other things. She also had a great knowledge of plants and he told me of something called Gompa, a mix everyone he knew as a child used to make. It was mainly angelica and something else which I dont recognise called Tolta. And she would chop it and cook it and then leave it for some months and it developed a jelly like consistency and as a child he loved it. He said it is cleansing and gives masses of energy. And can also be used on wounds and sores.  She also cooked up blueberry leaves and heather for tea. And guess what, she also cooked up reindeer moss! So I can eat that too.

And she had a large flock of reindeer, and no husband. But the reindeer were so tame that they hung around her place, and he said they felt safer there from the many wolves there were in that area at the time. His name is Olav Gaurek and he invited me to the Vandrehjem where he was staying so I could cook up the ground elder.

It was getting late and I needed to get out of town to hang up the hammock. It was quite far into a housing area and the mountain seemed to rise straight out behind the houses with no path. The old people I met said there should be a path there behind someones house so I walked up through the garden. I couldnt see anyone there and it was extremely steep but I climbed up. There beside the mountain was a hefty fence so I wasn’t quite sure if I was still in their garden. By now it was a birch wood and I was boiling hot so I decided just to stop anyway. The sky was a beautiful blue and so I just put the hammock on the ground to sleep. Olav Gaurek had said it wouldn’t rain so in veiw of his aunts gifts I thought it was safe not to hang up the tarp. At 3 in the morning the rain was falling. I jumped up and hang it up very quickly. Luckily for me I now can do the bowline hitch very fast and soon it was undercover and I was listening to the rain pattering. But I knew I had to was going to do a radio interview early today and wasn’t too sure that the tarp would keep me dry and it was hard to get back to sleep. One not so good thing about travelling alone is that its hard to find someone to give you a hug when you feel like one which I did just then. But luckily I remembered something I discovered recently. Being a storyteller you can be quite good at visualising but I’m sure anyone can do it. You imagine that you are lying on Gods hand. I don’t think you need to beleive in God either to do this. And then you can imagine that the sleeping bag in this case is very gently hugging you which it is doing in fact and even the air. So I got to sleep again.

I feel somewhat like a snail, not slimey though I will no doubt get slimey after many more days not washing but a snail in a good way. That I am carrying my shell on my back. And I walked down to the radio this morning and did the interview and then walked up the hill.

There was the cathedral with a very welcoming looking Christ and beside it was a large crowd listening to a brass band in the sun. And as I stood there listening and watched the local crowd I felt pity. A rare feeling of pity for this race of ours which seems determined on extinction without even really noticing the direction it is going. Hope this doesn’t sound dismal its not meant like that at all, I feel most alive and happy.

Hun sier alle de gode gamle fortellere kan være dø?

ALT ALT ALT henger sammen. 17 timer med tog og når jeg våkner sammenkrøllet over to seter og ser ut av vinduet er det som å være på et annet planet og jeg tenker: My boat is so small and your sea is so immense.

Toget er fram kl. 9.13 og det viser seg at båten til Røst går ikke før 4.30 i morgen tidlig. Jeg har ingen tidspress, jeg kan bare gjør akkurat det jeg vil. Og det føles ut som om alt som skjer har en grunn. Er det lokal mat her i Bodø siden jeg bare skal spise fra Nordland fylke? En jenta sender meg til Farmors stuen. Det er sååå koselig og hun som driver det vet alt. At det finnes ikke korn eller grønnsaker her at hun har kjøtt og mange ost og myntegele og hjemmelaget brød fra økologisk mel. Det kan jeg ikke står imot, selv om jeg spiser lite kjøtt og ost til vanlig. Det er uhyre godt.

Hun sier det er lite poeng å se i butikkene, hun har rett, der er  det bare noen frossent kjøtt og kjøtt pålegg. Merkelig, en hav av mat og ingenting herifra. Og jeg har mistet pengepungen. Jeg er helt svett og kjenner min total avhengihet til penger. Går tilbake og finner det i Farmors stuen urørt.

En gutt forteller meg at det er Nordlands museum her. I går fikk telefon fra Norsk Kulturråd som foreslo jeg skulle samarbeide med museumer heroppe så det virker perfekt. Her treffer jeg Barbro. Hun forteller meg at når hun var veldig ung og fersk i jobben gikk de rundt og tok opp historier i Lofoten. Hun fikk noen uslettelig minner. .

Særlig en dame fra Mosta, en liten øy langt ut i havet ved Værøy. Barbro sier Mosta er en karri og gudsforlatt sted men den gamle dama elska det. Hun fortalt om Lundefugl jakt, der hunden hennes løp og hentet fugl etter fugl og hun hang dem rundt halsen sin intill hun ble tunget ned av nydelige svart og hvit fugler med sine røde nebbene. Når hunden hadde fanget ca. 100 stykker knutet hun alt sammen i en bunke og rullet bunken ned det bratte fjellet. Det virker grusomt å spise disse vakre skapninger. Men det er lett å si når vi har tilgang til haugevis av mat på hvert hjørne. Barbro sa at de gamle hun hadde snakket med døde kort tid etter og hun lurer på om det er noen sånn igjen. Ja, det lurer jeg på også… I morge er jeg i Lundenes øy – Røst.

English readers sorry about the Norwegian the day before yesterday, got a request from the paper to write norsk so I will do sometimes.

I THINK I have finally just finished packing but the train leaves in 2 hours. What is the point of all this? Yes collecting stories, legend hunting is one thing but there is something else.

 

This  – I really like human beings they are actually my fave species I suppose due to accidents of birth and life. They are so strange and clumsy and lovely.

However it seems fairly daft to be so monospecist. So ensartet, so single minded when the whole of creation is out there waiting for us.

This is the kind of thing I go on lecturing about but the fact is that I have never been out on a trip alone in the wild for longer than a day. Alone is a strange word, alone just means without other humans. And my contact with the other species is so limited – the trees in my life; weeds (a racist term but you know what I mean); August the cat and those birds who attract my attention. Direct sky and weather are only there in daily life for quite limited trips to the bus, out in the garden or those few hours a week when I go out for a walk.

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This weekend I was sleeping out for the first time in the hammock at the hytte in the mountains. To say sleeping out is an exaggerated description – the first night my feet were freezing but the second night I did sleep. However I couldn’t help noticing how nice it was to go inside after we’d been out on the mountain. And I was wondering how I will cope with being outside and ‘alone’ 24/7 or at least a lot? 

On the one hand, its so cosy to be inside, and have a kitchen, and loads of clothes. On the other hand I am really looking forward to get back to the hammock. Especially the second night when it rained. Lukasz told me to put the tarp over it and I did and it was like being in a little tent suspended in the air.

 

Ok enough philosophising lets go. 

English readers…

To dager igjen

På den ene hånden føler jeg som Nansen som forbereder en ekspedisjon til Arktis. Og på den andre føler jeg som et barn som skal endelig ut og leke.

Om to dager kommer min drøm i oppfyllelse. Når du har tenkt og forberedt noe over en lengre periode er det som å føde barn for første gang. Den eneste du kan være HELT sikker på er at du ikke vet hvordan dette blir.

Jeg ligger våken og lurer på om jeg kan klarer meg 7 uker med bare en BH? Jeg skal bare spise lokal mat og jeg snu meg og grubler på om det går annen å spise reinsdyrmose? Eller om jeg kommer overhode til å tørre å banke på hos fremmede folk?

Nå har jeg fått streng råd fra to Nordlendinger at det å sove i hengekøye i 7 uker kommer til å ødelegge turen. Men jeg er litt sta og i går dro jeg opp til hytta for å prøve. To venner ble med for å hjelpe meg og jeg spurte dem hvilke knuter jeg burde bruke for å feste hengekøye på trærne. Mennene ble som ’Cool Hand Luke’, i løpet av en nanoøyeblikk hadde de dratt ut smart phonene for å løse problemet. Da var jeg ikke lite fornøyd når jeg klarte å knute en ’Bowline hitch’ før de rakk å surfe nettet. Og det var hyggelig å ha noe nikkende og støttende mens jeg festet det hele opp i trærne.

Kl. 23.30 var det en nydelig rosa-lilla solnedgang og jeg besteg hengekøye. Og lå der gyngende mykt og tittende opp mot det vakre Einunna fjellet. Stillingen ga kroppen min en ny og levende følelse, det var deilig. Samtidig var det nok litt kald på rumpa og jeg lurte på om det superlett liggeunderlag vil holde. Når jeg våknet kl. tre var det virkelig ille, særlig på beina. Kanskje fordi de stod ganske høyt? Beina frøs hele natten, det ble lite søvn.

I dag gikk vi opp Einunna fjellet og da vi satt på toppen og så fjellene utfolder seg mot nord sør, øst og vest fikk jeg plutselig en aha opplevelse. Det er kanskje en grunn til at hengekøye er veldig populær i Sør Amerika og varme land men ikke i Norge. OK da. Men jeg prøver igjen i kveld.

For å se hele ruten sjekk http://www.georgiana.net

Towards the ocean

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Yesterday I got a ride down to Thor Heyerdahl’s house with a man called Torgeir Higraff. In 2006 Torgeir made his own version of Kon Tiki and crossed the Pacific Ocean an entire month faster than Heyerdahl.  The biggest shock for Torgeir was that whereas we see in the Heyerdahl Oscar winning film from 50 odd years back an ocean dense with fish, he found the ocean scarily empty. When he stopped feeling seasick they passed by the stinking continent of rubbish and he felt sick again. Torgeir is a real live hero with broad shoulders who is burning to share his adventures. Behind the glamour there is a Bleak House too. He says that he reckons the robbing of the oceans by the mammoth trawlers will really hit us when runaway climate change has made farming so hard that we turn to the sea for food.

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We are working together with groups of 70 thirteen year olds on a storytelling environmental programme. (www.fortelling.no)  We don’t tell them the supergloomy news, we give them great stories and a game where they get into role as Climate witnesses. After meeting Torgeir they come up to the house and visit Thor Heyerdahls mum, that’s me and his wife that’s Charlotte. These kids get so into it that even when we’ve changed out of costume they still think we are about 140 years old and related to the big man.

Anyway back to the car, Torgeir has a great accent and I suddenly realized he probably comes from far North. Sure enough he grew up on a tiny island off Senja where I’ll be walking SOON and when I told him I was going to eat local food he said: ’Pizza Grandiosa. That is the local food up there, apart from Pizza Grandiosa.’

He said his grandmother was one of 14 children and her mum brought them up pretty much single handed PLUS she had to milk the cows, plant the potatoes and row them to school. The men were out fishing or trying to earn money and they might come back but then again they might not. Torgeir said peoples lives up there were so hard that in the 80’s when the oil money came they just tore down whatever they could of old houses, and old piers and built new concrete ones. They were not interested in tradition. I may not find a lot of fairy tales among the people he describes but  the everyday life of 50 or 60 years back seems pretty mythic!

I’m going to bring a pan so I can boil up nettles if there is nothing else to eat.

Mountainous mounds of stuff to carry on your back up a mountain

Peace Pilgrim, I keep coming back to this lady. She walked for 28 years. No-one knows how old she was but she was old and she was carrying NOthing. Except a plastic comb and letters she got and sent to people and she kept these at the bottom of her jumper. And she never asked for anything. She just waited until people offered her stuff. Man she is a hefty mirror..

And here am I thinking about all this stuff stuff stuff I might need need need. Now I’ve got some big clumpy mountain boots. I have never understood the point of these things, is it a marketing gimmick? I’m going to find out soon because there is going to be no other footwear available, I refuse to take more than one pair of shoes. And I’ve got the hammock with the special little tent to hang the mosquito netting on, plus the tarp for rain, the sleeping bag and the LIGGEUNDERLAG. You just can’t say it in English and you can in no circumstances go outside the door without one in Norway. It’s the portable mattress thing which you also need for a hammock. I mean I am going North of the Arctic circle- on a hot day its still going to be cold. Plus long johns a long sleeved vest and of course waterproofs. Then there’s the massive bag of make-up and vitamin pills, well ok I’ll leave that behind with the first aid kit and the clothes. I am going to only bring one pair of clothes.

Eating local food.

Peace pilgrim never asked for food, but I am not her and I will both ask for it and buy it and eat it I hope. I was so happy the other day when I remembered flatbread. Because before that I thought I would just be living on nettles and fish. For some reason I really like food and yet I’m continually thinking of things to deprive myself of. Why? Two reasons. Clear thinking, its so annoying to be in a muddle and eating rubbish food makes the mind muddled. And the other is this whole mad, fly food around the planet campaign which seems so utterly dodgy. If I am going to be able to do it, I REALLY don’t know. But the idea is to eat only food that arises up there. Will it have arisen by 26th June, people have mentioned that they only just stopped having snow, who knows? Life remains exiting.

 

 

Three weeks to go

 

The dog just loves to walk. She doesnt need to blog about it.

I need to do a hundred things to get myself ready – new boots, a hammock, a compass. Where I am going to stay, should i take a bike? Maps, recording gear, organising how life will go on when I’m away.

How much do I want people to know what I am doing? This could be just for me to take notes on. But I realise that every time I get round to preparing for this journey I get happy. Is this a good sign? do I have any idea at all what it will be like not knowing where I am going to stay? Will I dare to knock on peoples doors or talk to strangers? Will I meet some scarey people?