Norway - View towards the Haukeli Mountains
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—We face now about west-southwest. Surroundings—Barren heights rise behind us, their summits streaked with snow. There is no village here--only one or two farms are within several miles.
That sod-covered roof with the neat ornamental railing around it is the inn proper. The more roughly constructed building just below our feet is an older house which stood here before the inn was built—they use it now for a kitchen. The prettily picturesque affair with the balconies and decorative gables is a sort of annex to the inn, containing bedrooms for guests. Its general design is like that of some of the beautiful old stabbur (storehouses) that one still sees in many parts of Norway. Farmers in old times often made their stabbur much more beautiful than their dwelling houses, perhaps on the same principle which keeps a kitchen table plain and bare, while a chest for best clothes and fine linen might be decorated with hand-carved patterns. In several places nowadays such old stabbur are utilized for bedrooms when the rising tide of summer travel makes extra chambers needed. In this particular case the building is not actually old. It is a modern construction, but the builder had a happy thought and gave it a form like the most admired old models.
All three roofs are sod-covered. That is the favorite finish for a roof in this district. Sheets of birch bark or something of that sort are fastened over the boards, then a layer of sod is placed upon it, roots up, then another layer with roots down ; the two layers interlock and form a fairly close, weather-tight covering. If it does spring a leak, it can usually be mended with a patch of turf or a sprinkling of additional earth. Evidently that kitchen roof, being the oldest of the three, has had to be repaired several times.
These girls are country born and bred, employed at the inn. Their wages would be considered preposterously small in America, but money is scarce here and every krone (twenty-seven cents) is a welcome addition to the little hoard which will some day buy a wedding outfit. Perhaps they may marry and settle down somewhere in this very province. As likely as not destiny may lead them over-seas to end their days in proud proprietorship of comfortable wheat farms in America.
The embroidery on that long white apron was doubtless done by the owner's fingers during long winter evenings. Girls like these all know how to knit their own stockings and long woolen mittens (one-fingered gloves) for winter wear. Many of them can spin too, and weave coarse homespun, such as their dark-colored skirts are made of. The bodices they wear over the white blouses or shirt-waists are of red woolen stuff. All their clothing is of strong, durable material, which lasts a long time, and, as fashions here remain the same from one year to another, a Sunday gown lasts almost a lifetime. White garments, like blouses, aprons and underclothes, are energetically washed in tubs in a little building separate from the house, and then smoothed by pressing under heavy wooden rollers—a device like the "mangle" familiar to British housewives.
The sport hereabouts is considered very good. A number of books have been written by British authors about Norwegian angling, bird shooting and reindeer stalking, all entertaining to a sympathetic reader. Several such books are mentioned on pages 353-354. Hunters who go off tip in the mountains for several days at a time usually take professional guides along with them, for even in midsummer blinding storms of snow and sleet often sweep over the heights, and one needs to be thoroughly familiar with the country in order not to get into trouble. There is seldom a time when those ridges over beyond the lake are entirely clear of snow.
As a tourist continues this journey he climbs still higher and higher. The road leads up over bleak, treeless heights, like those which we have just seen in the distance, and reaches an altitude of more than 3,700 feet. Moisture-laden winds from the Atlantic, blowing in over the land, are often so chilled in sweeping over the height, that what would be a gentle, drizzling rain down in Bergen, turns up here into a shrieking snow-storm. Thus it happens that we find a most un-summer-like landscape effect at the spot where we pause for our next outlook. Find the place marked 28 (on Map 5), a little west of the Botten inn. It is right on the main traveled highway.