Norway - Halt of a stolkjaetrre beside the foaming Little Rjukan Falls
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—We are facing about northwest, i. e., in the direction of the sea, but the dividing height of land has still to be climbed, for, as a rule, the greatest elevations in Norway are along the ragged Atlantic shore. Surroundings—Steep hillsides with wild flowers growing among the rocks and in openings among the trees.
They call these the Lille Rjukan (Little Smoking) Falls, as a suggestion of their kinship to the thunderous waterfall which we saw over near Mount Gausta (Positions 20, 21, 22).
Now that we are near the horse we can see better some of the details of the harness. The shafts are attached only at one point on each side. There are no tugs (traces) ; no way is provided to hold back a load as the horse goes down a steep hill, save only that attachment of the shaft. The short cutting of the horse's mane so that it stands up, pompadour fashion, is according to almost universal custom. Most of the native horses are cream-colored, like this one, or a sort of dun mouse-color. Tenth century Rolf, who sailed away from Norway to France and shaped later European history by his venture,* is said by tradition to have been too heavy for riding a Norwegian horse. Most of the animals are, however, considerably smaller than the continental breeds, so the old rover may not have been gigantic in stature after all.
The woman in the road is a farmer's wife on her way to visit a sister at a mountain dairy (soeter) above here. The box which she carries slung in a big bag contains a live fowl. Young and middle-aged women walk for miles alone over country roads like this, sometimes knitting as they go in order to utilize the time thriftily. There is really nothing to be afraid of. Bears used to be common in these parts, but now they are seldom seen, and the few people one might meet would be likely to be just plain, decent country neighbors. As a matter of fact, a solitary pedestrian would be more likely to be afraid of supernatural creatures than of anything real and tangible. A good many country people about here do believe still in ghosts and queer, unearthly creatures of forest and mountain. In all probability this very woman if we could talk with her (unfortunately she speaks only Norwegian) could tell us some very "creepy" stories of things which happened to people her mother used to know ! Without doubt she herself has the wooden stick with which she stirs the porridge at home marked with a cross to keep the milk from curdling!
Our road now steadily rises, for we have soon to cross the mountain height which forms the divide or watershed between the Skagerrak and the North Atlantic. As we gradually reach higher and higher levels, the soil grows thinner until even Norwegian thrift can do very little with it. The lakes and streams, however, are full of fish, and wild fowl are so plentiful as to call a good many sportsmen to the district during the hunting season. Suppose we pause again at a certain little inn which is a popular resort for devotees of the gun and fishing-rod. Its location (be-side a mountain lake) is marked 27. Be sure to look it up on Map 5, just a little northwest of our last position. The diverging red lines say we shall look off some distance across the surrounding country.