Norwegian Woods (OT)

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Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2019 - 08:52am PT

Mikael Niemi, Koka björn (To Cook a Bear)

To cook a bear by Mikael Niemi
To cook a bear by Mikael Niemi

“To cook a bear” sees Niemi return once more to his native Tornedalen in Sweden’s Arctic. The story takes place in 1852, in the village of Kengis, where the consequences of a momentous summer reverberate into a sobering autumn. One of its central figures is the Swedish pastor Lars Levi Laestadius, a prominent revivalist, botanist and teetotaller with Sami roots whose legacy Niemi touched on in Popular Music, the novel which brought him fame. Although there are allusions to Milla Clementsdotter, Laestadius’ spiritual muse, and to the Kautokeino rebellion, references to the spread of Laestadianism across Arctic Scandinavia end there. The rest is fiction, adeptly conjured up through Niemi’s powerful, spellbinding writing.

The nexus of the story is the relationship between Laestadius and a Sami foundling boy, barely able to talk, whom he discovers neglected and abused at the wayside. Laestadius names the boy Jussi, and enters his birth retrospectively in the parish register, thereby symbolically bringing him into existence. Over the years the pastor teaches him the power of letters, reading and language, and respect for indigenous Arctic flora. Jussi grows into a young man whose childhood scars and mental demons set him apart. Many villagers fear this otherness, believing him to be a Noaidi, a Sami shaman capable of sorcery.

The prejudices are great, the local establishment strong and hostile. The brandy is a dividing line. The brandy generates income for the Swedish-speaking upper class and keeps the service people in place. But the evil forces do not only fit into a bottle.

At the same time as the highly appreciated priest, yes the master, must appear to be strong and wise, he wrestles constantly with faith and doubt. At last, Jussi does too. The ambush devil always lurks around the corner, self-righteousness, pride, affectation and selfishness. Niemi's novel is a lesson in social and human knowledge.

One day Laestadius makes a discovery that will unleash a series of fatal events. While out walking, he discovers a pole poking out of the black water on the springy marshland. Shaking it, he realises that the glinting in the sludge is blond human hair. A young maid has gone missing. The villagers are convinced she is the victim of a killer bear, and a bounty is promised to whoever can deliver the beast’s skull. Prejudices surface. Swedish-speaking local powers among the poorer Finnish and Sami-speaking villagers become hostile, wanting to maintain the status quo. Brahe, the local bailiff and Michelsson, his petit constable, are among them. But Laestadius will have none of it; his knowledge of the lie of the land and what grows in it tells him that the killer is two-footed. As the number of suspicious deaths that summer grows, despite the sacrificial slaughter of a pregnant bear, the pastor disregards Brahe and Michelsson’s theories of natural causes, accident or misadventure. Instead, he uses contemporary science in the form of daguerreotypy, fingerprints and botanical knowledge to collect evidence for his own theories. In contrast, the bailiff and constable continue to proffer their out-of-date, evidence-scant verdicts with increasing menace.

What of the bear? Niemi’s titles are inventive, and the bear is a metaphor here. Its body represents evil, one of the novel’s subtexts being how evil arises, how it is manifested and feared. The skull houses the soul. An abhorrent analogy is drawn later when two academics visiting Karesuando during Laestadius’ time there look for Sami crania for research purposes. Boiling a stew is how the drunken bear hunters envisage tasting the meat, while boiling the she-bear’s head is the pastor’s strange instruction to Jussi.

Niemi’s narrative technique is beguiling. The novel falls into four sections, each beginning with a verse. You naturally seek to deduce the author of the verses and whether they are written by the same hand. The first-person narrative is shared by Jussi and, as the book progresses, the pastor. However, an omniscient narrator appears in places to intrigue you further. Whose is this voice, and how are they privy to such information?

More than historical crime fiction, “To Cook a Bear” is a literary novel with crossover points. Niemi’s characterisations are vivid, sharp and credible: these people inhabit your mind long after you have finished the book. A skilled wordsmith and natural writer, Niemi juxtaposes lyrical pastoral beauty with the grotesque and the hideous. He is able to enchant, lull and repulse in equal measure. This is writing that will make you think. The story doesn’t end on the last page...
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 11, 2019 - 10:16am PT

Origins of Horse Domestication: Botai, Yamnaya, Sintashta


David Reich: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2019 - 10:32am PT

Ole Andreas, 99 years old and hunting moose in the forests of Oppland. Norway


Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Feb 12, 2019 - 12:04pm PT
hunting Moose

As long as he's not doing it here.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2019 - 12:24pm PT

Hehe... yes, Moosedrool is protected...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 12, 2019 - 01:01pm PT
Ja, I could easily sit there a couple of days smoking a ‘pipe’ with Ole!
His Oppland accent isn’t too hard to forstår! Sounds like stefarens fra Randsfjorden. 🤡
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2019 - 12:35pm PT

The Luossa cabin where poet Dan Andersson lived with his family 1912-1915. Here you today find his worktable, his bookcase and his guitar.
Luossa-stugan where Dan Andersson lived with his family 1912-1915.
Luossa-stugan where Dan Andersson lived with his family 1912-1915.


This tune deserves repetition: Sonja Aldén - "Omkring tiggar'n från Luossa" ('Round the beggar from Luossa)



'Round The Begger From Luossa (Lyrics: Dan Andersson)

From Luossa came a beggar singing to the village folk.
Round the watch fire they lingered while he sang
Songs of pilgrims and of beggars, song of wondrous, wondrous things
And of his yearning did he sing the whole night long

"There is something beyond mountains, beyond stars and all the blossoms,
Something, too, behind my song, behind this burning heart of mine
Listen — something goes and whispers, goes and lures me and beseeches
Come to us, for earth below is not the kingdom that is thine!"

I have listened to the lapping of waves upon the shore,
I have dreamed that the wildest seas were calm and still.
And in spirit I have hurried to that contourless land,
Where the dearest we have known we´ll know no more.

To a wild, eternal longing were we born of ash-pale mothers,
And from travail, anxious, painful, rose our first, our wailing cry
Were we tossed on plain and hillside, just to tumble round and frolic,
Then we played at elk and lion, beggar, God and butterfly.

Did I sit beside her, silent, she whose heart was as my own,
Did she tend our home with soft and gentle hands,
Loudly was my own heart shouting, "What you own there is not yours!"
And my spirit drove me onward to find peace.

What I love is lying yonder, lies concealed in dusky distance,
And my rightful way leads high to wonders there.
In this clamor I am tempted to beseech Him, "Lord, O Master,
Take all earth away, for own I will what no one, no one has

Join me, brother, beyond mountains with their still and cooling rivers,
Where the sea is slow to slumber in its peak-encircled bed.
Somewhere far beyond the heavens lies my home, have I my mother
In a gold-besprinkled vapor, in rose-tinted mantle clad.

May the black and brackish waters cool our cheeks with fever reddened,
May we be from life far distant where the morning is awake
Never was I one with this world, and unending tribulation
Suffered, restless, unbelieving, suffered from my burning heart.

On a seashore sown with cockles stands a gate with roses laden,
There in slumber, vagrants perish and all weary souls find peace.
Song is never heard resounding, viols never echo, ringing
Under arches where forever cherubs of salvation dwell.

Translated by Caroline Schleef


And then in Finnish: Esa Niemitalo - Luossan kerjäläinen


Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2019 - 11:24am PT

Log driver photos from "The Book about Lekvattnet" (Boken om Lekvattnet)

https://www.lekvattnet.se/skog-flottning-och-sagverk/flottningen/

Andersvältan i Vittjärn
Andersvältan i Vittjärn
Credit: Irmgard Henriksson
Credit: Oscar Börjesson
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2019 - 10:23am PT

Ritamäki, Lekvattnet, Sweden

Ritamäki, Lekvattnet, Sweden
Ritamäki, Lekvattnet, Sweden
Credit: Marlow
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Ritamaki 3
Ritamaki 3
Credit: Mikael Klarstrom
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Ritamäki
Ritamäki
Credit: Marlow
Credit: Marlow
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Feb 17, 2019 - 07:53pm PT
You can count on Marlow to deliver the goods, here and on L'Equipement de l'Alpiniste 1900. Coincidentally, making marmelade today - but not Marlowmelade. Or Moosemelade. Or Mousemalade.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2019 - 10:07am PT

Anders.

The marmalade made me think of rhubarb soup and jam. When we were three young boys our mother in late spring/early summer always made rhubarb soup. We found the soup cold in the refrigerator as a surprise when we returned home after a long day of playing football. It tasted of heaven...

Also our grandfather loved the soup. When he went on fishing trips on his Tempo Corvette moped he had 2 litres of rhubarb soup and a bottle of vodka in his rucksack. I never saw him drunk and he always returned home with a small bucket of trout which led to another culinary peak experience - trout fried in butter and with sour cream. Life is good…

Rhubarb jam
Rhubarb jam
Credit: Ina-Janine Johnsen
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2019 - 10:37am PT

A spiritual song if there ever was one... Roine Lindström: I will walk through silent clouds (lyrics: Dan Andersson)



I will walk through silent clouds
through seas of starry light
I will walk during white nights
until I find my father's house

Slowly I will knock on the gate
where no one leaves any more
and I will sing with joy
as I never sang before
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2019 - 10:48am PT

"Anytime I can disappear. Such is the wanderer. Now I'm here, and in the next moment I'm there. I get on my feet, put the rucksack on my back and start to walk. That's all. The poor can live this way. All I own I carry on my back. The clothes on my body, the knife in the belt. The stone of flint and the bowl for food, the sheath of horn, the bag with salt. Altogether, they weigh almost nothing. I'm quick and nimble on the foot, before anyone misses me, I'm over the next river valley. I leave no traces. Not more than any animal. My feet are stepping on grass and moss, and they immediately rise again. When I make up fire, I use old bonfires, my ashes lie down on others' ashes and in this way become invisible. My necessity I do in the woods, I fold up a turf and put it back in place afterwards. The next walker can put his foot straight on it without noticing, only the fox can sense a weak human odor. During the winters, I leave ski tracks across the soft sky of silky snow. I float four feet above the ground, and when spring comes, all the traces melt. Man can live this way. Without really being there. Being just like the forest, like the summer foliage and the falling leaves of autumn, like the mid-winter snow and the countless buds at spring. And when you finally leave, it's like you've never been here."

Translated by Marlow from "To Cook a Bear" by Mikael Niemi

Draba Alpina. Drawing by Lars Levi Laestadius.
Draba Alpina. Drawing by Lars Levi Laestadius.
Credit: Mari Karlstad

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