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Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » Back from the wild

Back from the wild


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Yesterday we mushed 50 odd kilometres down Johan Turi’s home ground on the great lake Torneträsk to Abisko. We’re approaching civilization again, and now in Abisko the noise of snow-machines and people is disconcerting after so many days in the wild. Each of us, in his or her own way, is experiencing trepidation at the prospect of completing this journey. Someone truly said that it’s all in the travelling, and not in the arrival or reaching an end, and I wonder if that’s what pilgrimage is too.

Last night Marja, our Sami guide for this leg, brought her brother to sing for us. His CD Birrasis has been sitting on my desk in London, and listened to almost daily in the months before the expedition. Joiking (as it’s called) is not quite singing, but it’s music, rhythm, chanting, haunting and full of song, as Lars-Ánte Kuhmunen says “You sing a person, a magic place, your reindeer or the mountains, you don’t sing about such things.” He told me that the Joik of the Sami is enclosed in the palm of your hand, and that you have to shake it out. He also said that the Joik always comes back to the ground, however much it flies, because that’s how the Sami people must live, sending their hopes and prayers with the wind, but always moving for the pastures with the reindeer, from winter to spring, for the calving, for the summer grounds high in the fells, back to the autumn for the corralling, the calf marking, the separating, and into winter again.

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