Lapland Summer Dress
( Originally Published 1881 )
THE summer dress of the Laplander is well adapted for the climate of the mountains.- My two men wore a gray blouse of coarse woollen stuff, called vadmal, reaching below the knee, open at the throat, showing an undershirt of the same material; tight-fitting leggings of reindeer leather; bound closely around the ankles by strips of cloth; shoes of the same inaterial, but heavier, with turned-up pointed toes; a coarse, woollen cap; a leathern pouch on the back to contain food, and a belt, on which hangs a knife. The female costume is the same as that of the men, except that the blouse is longer, and closed at the neck.
Wherever the Laplander goes in summer he takes with him a stout birch staff, about seven feet in length, which is used in climbing mountains or crossing streams.
After a.moderate ascent we saw Lang Vand below us, hills em eyed with snow, the foaming Ykien, the Lommi, and the Erva.
In a few hours we were in the midst of very wild scenery. The bare rounded hills made a picture of desolation ; the soil was covered with stones of different sizes and shapes, wrenched from the rocks by thousands of years of frost. Snow-drifts became more numerous, and sometimes formed arches over the streams; a mist covered the mountain-tops, and the peak of Sulitelma, 6326 feet high, was hidden in a black mass of clouds. The glacier came in sight, and presented a superb appearance, the ice being very blue, as rains had melted the snow over a large part of its surface; in the distance its crevasses and sinuosities presented a strange spectacle. In the midst of this enormous mass of ice were two bare dark mountains, and for miles beyond the glacier ran from north-west to south-east. At the base was a lake, a hardly perceptible path leading to its lonely shore, where grew the willow, dwarf-birch, and juniper, In a rain storm one might skirt -the shores of the lake without seeing Sulitelma. Our route lay by the water, the centre of the glacier bearing north. Rills were seen everywhere, and cascades formed by the melted snow and the continuous rains of the past few days, and there were drifts of snow in every hollow, while large patches stretched down to the shores. The fog had disappeared, and we could see high mountains in a southerly direction. We reached the outlet of another lake, separated from the first by a range of low hills, including some good pasture-land. We rested for awhile, and made a fire for a cup of coffee with the small birch-trees which are found in these high regions ; without these the Laplanders could not roam over the dreary mountains. Our fire was the more enjoyable, as the mercury stood at 39 ; notwithstanding which, we got into a profuse perspiration from the exertion of ascending the hills, and felt the wind keenly when stopping to rest.
From the top of a high hill we had one of the dreariest views imaginable—mountains covered with boulders of all sizes rose in the distance, extending very far to the south and south-east, while at other points on the horizon we could see nothing on account of the mist. We never lost sight of the blue outline of Sulitelma, but the peak was hidden from view. The walking at times was extremely tiresome on account of soft snow, into which we sunk to our knees, wet and sandy soil, broken rocks, slabs, and boulders.
As Sulitelma began to bear east of us, with my glass I saw a deep ravine, over which hung a glacier with immense icicles clinging to its sides; the mercury had fallen to 38°, although the wind was from the west. We descended a long sloping hill ; and, as the ravine widened, a torrent-like river from one of the grand branches of the glacier wound its way towards a lake called Pjeskajaur (jaur, in Lappish, meaning "lake"). While I had stopped to take the bearings of the mountains and glacier, the woman, who was as wiry as any of us, had gone in advance; suddenly I heard the word "Sain" (Lapps), and saw in the distance an encampment of Laplanders, with smoke curling up over their kata (tent). Soon after we reached the place, and, entering their shelter, I recognized our female travelling companion ; the inmates were her relations, and she knew the tract where they pastured their herds. As I looked around a feeling of disgust crept over me ; the tent at its base did not seem more than eight feet in diameter; in. the centre a fire made with juniper branches was blazing brightly, having been lighted on our account, for the people have to be economical in the use of wood. In the small space on one side of the tent-the other side, on the left of the door, having been cleared for us—lay huddled together, on reindeer skins wet with rain, three women, four children, two men, and four dogs. The dogs growled at nie, but were soon silenced by a heavy blow of the fist applied to the one which tried the hardest to disturb the peace. The clothes of the men, women, and children were of reindeer skins, with the hair turned in, side; the faces of the children looked as if they had never been washed, and those of the grown people could not have been touched by water for a fortnight; they were continually putting their hands through the openings in their garments near the neck, and the suggestion was not pleasant; â large quantity of reindeer meat and other kinds of food lay on the skins on which these people were to sleeps
Such was the picture of the first Lapp tent I saw, and I may add that it also proved to be the worst.
These Lapps were very kind-hearted, and the woman who had been travelling with us was careful to provide for our comfort; A short time after our arrival the kettle was on the fire, and she was grinding coffee, while the head of the family was busily engaged in cutting up reindeer meat, and putting it into a brass pot hanging over the fire by a chain. The coffee was soon ready, and the woman, presenting me a cup, said: " On the road you have been kind to me ; you gave me some of your coffee, and some of your food, though you- did not know me—I thank you-now let me take care of you. Drink this, and soon you 'will have plenty of reindeer meat to eat." When it was cooked the father of the family gave to each his portion, but the choice bits were reserved for me and my two guides ; we had no forks and no bread. The bones were thrown to the dogs, who watched all our movements with hungry eyes. When bedtime came, and the fire had been extinguished, wet and chilly, I did not know what to do, for I was afraid to remain in the tent, dreading the consequences; yet a hard day's work was before me on the morrow—in fact, it was already tomorrow, the hour being 2 A.m.
As I did not wish to hurt the feelings of these people, I concluded to run the risk, and laid down on the skins and tried to sleep. After awhile I began to feel as if creeping things were making their way over me, but attempted to convince myself that this was only, imagination ; at last, fatigue being stronger than my will, I slept for one hour.
Towards four o'clock I was awakened by the entrance of a Laplander, who had gone during the night, with a herd of two hundred and fifty reindeer, to where the lichen was abundant, and had returned to take his rest ;; the fellow changed his wet woollen; leggings, put on a pair of dry shoes, and soon was fast asleep, not even taking a cup of coffee which stood ready for him.
The life of these Lapps during the summer is a very hard one; they have to follow their reindeer day and night, lest the herds should wander; so that when they return to their tents they are exhausted, and readily fall into deep sleep. A stranger arriving at a kata, or encampment, might easily get the impression that Laplanders are very lazy, which is far from the truth.
I saw a herd of reindeer crossing to the other side of the river ; they swim very well, and sometimes have to go long distances across the fjords; I was told that they could swim about six miles in three or four hours.
Lake Pjeskajaur is about fifteen miles in length, and from two to five miles in width, and is near 67° latitude. The river flowing into it was deep, and the melting of the snow and glacier had made it so turbid that we could not see the bottom, and did not know where to cross. The Lapps tried to ford the stream, but had to return twice ; at last we found a place, but it was with great difficulty that we could make headway against the powerful current, or walk over the round pebbles and shifting sand, which gave way under our feet ; the water was so cold—being 37°—that it took my breath away when it reached as high as my neck. Gaining the other side, I discovered that there were two more outlets to be forded, but in these, fortunately, the stream was not quite so deep. The cold had so benumbed my legs that I could hardly put one foot before the other : alarmed at these symptoms, I re-sorted to my flask, and took a good swallow of brandy, and gave some to my Lapps, who seemed to be very grateful.
Our way lay through a morass, which made the walking tedious and difficult, but the severe exercise was precisely what I needed ; my limbs after awhile began. to lose their rigidity, and a warm glow of the skin made me feel that I was all right again. The centre of the glacier seemed now to be north-west, and here appeared in the shape of an arc, running from north-north-west to north. Crossing another river, the water of which was much warmer, as it did not come from glaciers, we came to a few good-sized birch-trees (Betula gtu tinosa), the remains of a former forest; I have regretted ever since that I did not cut one, to count the number of rings and ascertain their age, for these grew at the highest elevation I had seen within the arctic circle.
On reaching the crest of a small hill we saw in the distance another kata; there were several Laplanders outside, from Lule, Lappmark, whose pasture-grounds extended as far as Sulitelma ; when they saw us they immediately went inside, On reaching the camp I found three young women and one man; the former were just giving the last touches to their toilets—one was putting on a handsome silver belt, another arranging her dress, a third fastening her shoes. Their dresses of thick blue woollen cloth, called vuolpo, were trimmed with red and yellow bands at the lower end of the skirt, and revealed a woollen undergarment—the overskirt reaching to the ankle ; their undershirts were nicely embroidered at the openings, and looked quite pretty, the color contrasting well with that of the skin. They also wore belts, which are considered one of the chief ornaments, and some of them are expensive. Only one had a belt ornamented with silver, the others were made of copper; these ornaments, about one inch wide, were fastened upon the ,cloth so close together that the material could hardly be seen; a pretty clasp fastened the belt, and from it hung a little knife and a pair of scissors. Woollen leggings of a bluish color, fitting somewhat closely, completed the costume. One of them wore new summer shoes, made of dressed reindeer skin, without heels; the other two had no shoes, and I noticed that their feet were small, well-shaped,and very clean. The men's frocks (kapte) were shorter, like those of my guides, falling a little below the knees, and were trimmed at the bottom with a band of bright color, contrasting with the blue; the collars of their undershirts were embroidered with bright-colored thread. The belts worn by the men were sometimes two or three inches wide, made of leather, with bears' teeth, to show that the wearer had killed his prey; they often wore a sort of waistcoat, richly adorned with silver ornaments, showing through the opening of their kapte.
The women's faces had been washed, and their hair combed ; their heads were covered with a rather graceful cap. I was surprised at the good looks of two of them; they had blue eyes, very small hands, and fair hair, of a somewhat reddish tinge; their complexions were rosy, and the skin remarkably white where it had been protected from the wind. The men's skins were quite red, having been tanned by exposure.
There was not the slightest appearance of shyness in these people; we were welcomed at once; the coffee-kettle was put over the fire; coffee, already roasted, was ground, boiled, and clarified with a piece of dry fish-skin, and served to me in a queer-shaped little silver cup, which I admired very much; it was a family heirloom, said to be about a hundred years old. The shape of the spoon was very graceful. This also was a family relic, and a great deal older than the cup; it was not clean, reindeer milk having dried upon it, and I was much amused at the way the girl washed it. As there was no water at hand, she passed her little red tongue over it several times until it was quite clean and smooth ; and then, as if it had been a matter of course, filled it with milk from a bowl, stirred up the coffee, and handed me the cup. I did not altogether admire this way of cleaning spoons. Happily, her teeth were exquisitely white; and her lips as red as a cherry; and, although I have seen many Laplanders since, I think she was the prettiest one I ever met.
The coffee was excellent. I had hardly finished a second cup when a Laplander came in, followed by several dogs ; lie had just arrived with two hundred and seventy-three reindeer, which were around the tent, but the approach had been so quiet that we did not hear him. Some of the animals were eating the moss, using their forefeet to detach it, while others were lying down; the males were of large size, with spreading horns, the females much- smaller. Not one showed any inclination to move off, the whole herd being as still as the cows which come to the farm-yard to be milked ; the bulls were quiet, though several were butting one another; "I was told that their horns often become so entangled that the animals cannot be separated, and have to be killed.
I watched the milking with great interest. The women knew every animal around the tent, and if one had been missing they would have been able to designate it at once. Those which were to be milked were approached carefully, and a lasso was thrown gently over the horns, and knotted over the muzzle, to prevent the deer from running away ; but they made no effort to escape. Sometimes one, would hold the deer while another was milking; but the animals were so gentle that they required no coercion. The process was peculiar: the woman held in one hand a wooden scoop, frequently pressing hard with the other, for the thick fluid seemed to come with difficulty ; it was poured from the scoop into a keg-like vessel closed by a sliding cover, and so contrived that it could be carried on the. back of an animal. Skin bladders were also filled, to be used by the Lapps who were to remain the whole day with the herds. I was surprised at the small yield—some not giving enough to fill a small coffee-cup; but it was very thick and rich—so much so, that water had to be added be-fore drinking ; it is exceedingly nourishing, and has a strong flavor, not unlike that of goat's milk. The milk of the rein-deer forms a very important item in the food of the Lapps, and possesses an amount of nutrition far greater than that of the cow or the ass; strange to say, the butter made from it is so had that one might almost fancy that he was eating tallow ; accordingly, the Lapps make very little butter, but cheese is produced in large quantities.
In the making of cheese, the milk is first heated, and the scum rising to the top is put in a wooden bowl, while the greater part is then placed in an empty bladder, which is afterwards hung up for its contents to dry; this dried scum, which they call kappa (cream), is considered a great dainty, and is always given to distinguished guests. Then rennet is added to the milk. The cheese is pressed by hand; and is packed in round wooden boxes, or put in forms made of plaited spruce roots ; after it is dried it is hung up, in the smoke in the kata ; it is white inside, and tastes of the milk, a great deal of which is kept for winter use. The Lapps-are very fond of thick milk, but, on account of the climate, they have to hasten the coagulation by adding fresh butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris).
I had always thought that the Lapps had black eyes and dark hair, but these were fair-skinned and . fair-haired, with, blue eyes ; the cheek-bones were prominent—in two of the women not unpleasantly so-and the nose was peculiarly Lapp and retroussé. Measurements of the. three women showed heights of four feet and one-quarter, four feet and three-quarters, and four feet six and three-quarter inches; the height of the two men ranged from four feet five to five feet and one-quarter inch. The facial measurement of the women, from the top of the nose to the point of the chin, ranged from three and three-fifths to four, and that of the men from four and one-half to four and three-quarter inches.
While the men were enjoying their pipes the women busied themselves with cooking. A porridge was made of the dry skimmed milk, stirred into water with a wooden spoon—a palatable and very nutritious dish. Each person had a little bag, from which a spoon was taken for table use; the tongue was used in place of water and a towel; and the fingers were passed around the plate until every remnant of the porridge had disappeared. Forks are not used among the Lapps, but some of their silver-ware is very old, and their spoons are of the same shape as those found among the peasants of Sweden and Norway.
The hungry dogs, who had made their way into the tent, watched us with gleaming eyes; when we had finished, a little water was added to the porridge that was left, and a portion was given to each dog, who devoured it voraciously. Then the man whom I had first met started with the reindeer for some part of the mountains where he knew the moss to be abundant, and not very far distant from the tent; he was to remain with the herd until evening, when he would be relieved from duty; the other stretched himself on a deer-skin, and soon fell asleep, and we all did the same—bundling ourselves together the best way we could in such limited quarters.
The tent used by the Laplanders is very portable, and is conveyed from place to place by the reindeer. Its frame is composed of poles fitting into each other, easily put together, and so strong and well knit that they can resist the pressure of the heaviest storm ; a cross-pole, high up, sustains an iron chain, at the end of which is a hook to hold kettles. Over the frame is drawn a cloth of coarse wool, called vadmal, made by themselves, no skins being ever used; it is composed of two pieces, and is made fast by strings and pins, and well secured; the porous quality of the cloth permits a partial circulation of air; a small door, ruade of canvas, is suspended at the top of the entrance. The woollen cloth is exceedingly durable, often lasting more than twenty years; the tents are frequently much patched, for a new covering costs from thirty to forty dollars. In summer their tents are usually pitched near a spring, or a stream of water, where the dwarf-birch and juniper furnish fuel, and not far distant from good pasture.
The encampment was about to be removed to another place, and trained animals had been brought to carry the luggage. It is far more difficult for the Lapp to move in summer than in winter, for then, instead of drawing their loads, the reindeer carry them on their backs, and therefore, at this time of the year, the outfit is much smaller; the animals used as beasts of burden are generally geldings, large and strong.
The tent had been taken down, the awning put by itself, and the supports divided into several bundles; clothing and other articles had been packed in wooden boxes about eighteen inches long by twelve wide and six deep, fastened with strings, and so arranged that one box could be placed on each side of the saddle; there were also bags, some of which were like strong nets. The svaka, or pack-saddle, is a curiosity; it consists of two pieces of wood, rounded so as to fit the shape 'of the body, with pieces of leather at the end; this is put upon the back of the reindeer exactly as we would saddle a horse, but more forward, a blanket of coarse wool or a piece of reindeer skin being placed under it to protect the back of the animal ; the burdens are disposed on each side, so as to balance each other, and are then carefully secured : from eighty to one hundred pounds seemed to be the average weight each animal carried. A few of the poles were bound together, and thus drawn along the ground.
Seven reindeer were attached to each other by strong leather ropes, made fast to the base of the horns, and one of the guides led the file; a few unburdened animals followed in the rear, to take the places of those which might become weary ; they were troublesome at first, and the Lapp ahead had to pull them along.
We parted from these kind-hearted people, and continued our route in an east-south-east direction, meeting here and there terraces along the river, indications of former risings of the land. Near the pools grew the famous Lapp " shoe-grass," of which there are two varieties—the Carex ampullacea and the Carex vesicaria. It is gathered in great quantities in the summer months by the Laplanders, who dry it and keep it carefully, for it is indispensable in winter. It is worn in their shoes, because it has the peculiarity of retaining heat, and keeps the feet so warm that the cold can be defied ; it is also used in summer shoes, to protect them while walking over stony ground.
The great glacier was always in sight, but the upper part of Sulitelma continued to be hidden; as the clouds were moving swiftly, I hoped that the summit might be seen, and stopped to watch—suddenly the peak became visible for about fifteen minutes, bearing precisely north-west by the compass. As the sun shone upon the ice its hue was simply marvellous; it seemed in many places like a huge mass of sparkling topaz; its extent was enormous, and patches of snow were scattered over its surface. There were only two breaks of dark rock visible in the frozen mass ; and towering above all was SuIitelma, dark and gloomy, looking down upon the sea of ice.
Farther on we reached the summit of another chain of hills in this great mountain range, from which I saw a small glacier bearing north-north-east by north.
Our route now was over a very hilly and desolate region, in the midst of which were numerous small lakes. We met several Laplanders, with many herds of reindeer together; but each owner knows his own by a special mark on the . ears. The mosquitoes, which had let me alone for nearly two days, again became plentiful, and, with the thermometer ranging from 44° to 45°, they bit venomously.
At times during the day we reached the snow line. As we ascended, the bare spots became less numerous, and the line was broken only by ridges of rock. Yet, in the midst of these barren patches, where, the mean temperature of the year is about freezing-point, many flowers flourish : the, Ranunculus nivalis and glacialis (buttercups), Rumex digynus (dock), Janus curvatus (rush), Silene acaulis (catchfly), and Saxifraga stellaris, rivularis, and oppositifolia. Many times have I remained standing in admiration before this last exquisite flower, which looks like a velvety carpet of purple moss, and grows in patches on the dark rocks, often surrounded by snow; the first time I saw it was on the top of the high hills back of Hammerfest, when it was in full bloom. These plants grow here, a little over four thousand feet above the sea-level, and on the snow line. Higher up they gradually diminish in number, until the Ranunculus glacialis is the only flower left; the lichens at last disappear about two thousand feet above the snow line.
The travelling was very hard; steep hill after hill had to be crossed, walking on nothing but broken stones, which some-times lay thick upon one another, and of all sizes and forms ; boulders were scattered everywhere, and the declivities of many of the hills were covered with them. I do not know which is the worst-to travel through the soft, black, wet morasses, where one often sinks knee-deep in mud, or to step from one boulder to another, and over loose stones, at the risk of a fall that might break an arm or a leg, or cause other bodily injury: even the feet of my Lapps had become sore.
Everything was bleak and dreary ; the lichen was short, growing on the bare rock , the grass in the hollow of the sealley was hardly green yet, although it was the middle of Au-gust, and but few wild flowers were seen. Pointing to' a series of lakes, my Lapps said they formed the waters of the Pite River.
As we were over-fatigued by the hard journey, and wished to see a kâta, the immense rocks seen in the far distance appeared to our hopeful imaginations like houses, so that often we made sure that some of these were Lapps' tents, only to be undeceived when coming near them. From every hill we had looked in vain for one of their encampments, for the weather was rainy and cold; sometimes we took refuge under a large stone, to protect ourselves during heavy showers.
In the evening, finding a huge boulder placed in such a position upon another that we could shelter ourselves under it, we concluded to remain there for the night, as there were junipers and dwarf birches growing near it. The thermometer stood at 44°, and we collected over a hundred dwarf birch-trees of that high altitude to keep ourselves from freezing, from the mosquitoes, and to dry our garments. We first tried one side, but the rain dripped heavily upon us ; then we went to the other side, which was not much better; indeed, wherever we turned the rain and the cold wind beat against us, and added to this was the discomfort caused by the smoke and flame. I tried to sleep seated with my back towards the rock, but it rained so hard that I was driven out, and at three o'clock the weather became so cold, and we were so wet, that none of us could endure it any longer, and we thought it was far better to walk ; so we arose with stiff limbs, which we hoped would gradually grow flexible as we went on, and, after each had taken a cup of hot coffee, we again set out at a quarter past four, the rain still pouring down : we were so weary that, whenever we stopped to rest for a few minutes, we were sure to fall asleep.
Our route continued south-east by east, the walking being very had. We had to cross large morasses, to traverse stony soil, which gave way under our feet, to clamber over boulders piled upon each other, and to pass streams, rivulets, and soft patches of snow, until at last we reached the highest point attained since our departure from Fagerli—over four thousand feet above the sea.
Of all the bleak landscapes I had seen on the journey this seemed the most dreary; it was absolutely grand in its desolation. There was an indescribable charm in the loneliness and utter silence ; bare mountains of granite and gneiss formed the setting of the picture, and all around were stones of all sizes and shapes, piled in heaps. Over these we had to wind our way for hours, jumping from one to another almost continuously, until our ankles became sore from the weight of the body. All the hard pedestrian exercise I had ever taken was as nothing compared with this; worse stony ground and steeper hills I have seen, and even, for a short time, I have perhaps found tracts more difficult, but I have never gone through such a country for so great a length of time. Had my guides made a mistake in the road ?
By noon, the weather having cleared, we rested in a sheltered spot, and on the rocks, covered with short lichen, well protected from the wind, stretched ourselves, for we needed sleep. The temperature had risen, the mercury standing at 54° in the shade made by my body, and at 95° in the sun, and our lichen-bed was soft and warm ; no bed had ever seemed so good to me. I soon fell asleep, but was awakened an hour later by a chilling wind, and found the sky again clouded. I roused my Laplanders, and we started on our journey.
We had now reached a sub-alpine region, characterized by the Betula alba, variety glutinosa (birch), its upper limit being about two thousand feet below the snow line; but even here was vegetation on the warm side of the hills, where the sun-rays are powerful, and the Sandals alpinus (sow-thistle), Struthiopteris,Aconitum lycoctonum,Tussilago frigida (colt's-foot), could be found.
Skirting the side of a hill, I could, see, in the distance; Lake Saggat, on the shores of which is Qvickjok. On the other side of the valley stood Njungis, a little farm on the the Tarrejoki. My guides proposed that we should çamp by the river and sleep there ; I foolishly refused, contrary to my custom always to listen to their suggestions. There are days in these mountains when everything at a distance seems near, and the stranger must beware of the deception ; this day was such a one. We came at last to the bottom of the valley, and found ourselves in a forest of pines, growing but a few miles south of 67°. From the branches hung long dark moss; under the trees it formed a thick carpet, which gave out a great quantity of water when trodden upon, especially after a rain. The stem is composed of small cells, which retain the water, and the mass is so compact that evaporation is very slow, and it never becomes entirely dry. In the midst of this velvety carpet were many ripe cloud-berries, and for an hour we ate them, for we had taken nothing since morning but coffee.
We forded a stream about four feet deep, and reached a sort of cave formed by boulders, where the Laplanders wanted to sleep ; but I urged them to go on, for many per-sons had apparently slept there before, and I was afraid of the place, which looked dirty. A little farther on we encamped for the night under tall pines, not far from the Tarrejoki. We were completely tired out-for thirty-six hours we had been on the march, and all of us were lame. Since I had left Fagerli, four days before, I had not been dry.
We built a fire, about six feet long, on each side of every one of us, and covered it with moss, in order to produce a thick smoke, to drive away the mosquitoes ; the moss formed a soft couch, but I could not sleep. At five minutes past eleven o'clock, looking up through the branches overhead, I was gladdened by the view of a star, the first I had seen for about three months; it was Vega, twinkling brightly—an old friend, who had often helped me to find my way through the African jungle. Later I was awakened by a burning sensation—the moss had taken fire, and, like tinder, had burned slowly till it reached me. I can realize from this how forests area set in a blaze by persons not extinguishing their fires as they leave their encampments.
Early the next morning resuming our journey, and still keeping to the shore of the Tarrejoki, we found ourselves in the midst of grassy fields, and groves of birch-trees, alders, and willows, which grew thickly on the riverbanks. What a contrast with the day before ! My Lapps climbed a tall birch, and shouted for the people to come over with a boat; but they shouted in vain, for the wind was contrary, and they could not be heard. I then fired my gun several times, and waited. Presently we heard voices, and after awhile the-sound of oars; a boat containing two men was coming towards us, and soon after we landed in Qvickjok, which is said to be about sixty miles from Sulitelma.
The hamlet is near 66° 55' N., at the head of Lake Saggat jaur, which forms the first large reservoir of a series of lakes in the water-shed of the Lilla Lule (lilla, little) River. The Kamajoki, a mountain-stream, rising from a little lake, filled the air with a constant murmur as it dashed against the rocks.
In the humble log-church, built in 1671, there was apparently sitting room for about one hundred and fifty persons; but I was told that on the occurrence of religious festivals two hundred and fifty could be wedged in. Over the altar hung a picture of the Saviour, represented as a Iittle child ; further, there was a portrait of King Carl, and scattered along the walls were some rude paintings of a religious character, Adjacent to the church was the little burial-ground; over some of the graves were frames protected by glass, in which the names of the departed were recorded, written on paper.
There was a school-house, where the children of the nomadic and stationary Laplanders received instruction. The people of the place owned about twenty-five cows, twelve horses, and from eight hundred to one thousand reindeer.
The two most conspicuous homes were the parsonage (but the pastor was absent), and that of the klockaren (sexton). The latter farm had two houses, one of which was for travellers, as he had charge of the boat-station. Mosquitoes were here a perfect plague.
A book was shown to me in which travellers had written. their names, and among the signatures were those of King Carl XV., who visited this place on the 16th of August, 1858, and Prince Oscar, now king, on July 28th and 29th, 1870.
The lake is 957 feet above the sea : fish were abundant. Above the limits of the fir and pine, perch and pike are not found in the lakes ; but the char and trout occur as high as the upper boundary of the birch region, after which all fish disappear. The upper end of the lake presented a richness of vegetation which was the more gladdening to the eye after the. weird mountains 1 had crossed.
Such flowers as these were cultivated at the parsonage: Calendula (marigold), Reseda (mignonette), Iberis (candy-tuft), Baptisia (false indigo), Stellaria (chickweed), .Malva: (mallow), Tagetes (French marigold), Aquilegia (columbine), Campanula (harebell), Dianthus (pink), Convolvulus (bind-weed) ; also carrots, turnips, radishes, parsley, spinach, lettuce, shallots, and rhubarb.
The weather was pleasant, and on the 13th of August, at 11.30 A.m., the mercury stood at 59° in the shade, and at 119° in the sun. The highest temperature I found here in the shade was 66°, and the lowest 49°.
My two guides had fulfilled their promise to Larsen in Fagerli, and desired to go back to the mountains; I paid them, and we parted excellent friends.
From Qvickjok to the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia the distance is 19 Swedish miles. The journey is easy, a great part of it being by water, through a series of lakes communicating with each other by short rivers ; but the latter, on account of their rapids, are not navigable. Roads form the communication between the lakes, and there are regular boat-stations. This chain of lakes, descending gradually from one to another, resembles a series of basins, and forms a striking feature of the landscape. The Saggatjaur is about 21 miles long, 957 feet above the sea, with a rapid at the lower end; the Tjâmâtisjaur and the Skalkajaur are connected, without rapid, 30 miles long, and 935 feet above the sea ; the Parkijaur, 5 miles long, and 929 feet above the sea; the Randijaur, 894 feet; the Purkijaur, 894 feet; the Vajkijaur, 808 feet.
On August 14th I bade farewell to Qvickjok. At the lower end of the lake an island and a mass of rocks and boulders intercept the navigation, and the swiftness of the current warned us that we were nearing the rapids ; but by a skilful move the boat came to an eddy, and we landed on the left bank of the river. A walk of twenty minutes brought us to the head of Tjâmâtisjaur, and to Niavi, situated near the shore, and not far from the point where the turbulent outlet of Lake Saggatjaur throws itself into the Tjâmâtisjaur.
Niavi was a very comfortable farm, and the dwelling-house contained several large rooms. The dining-room was a model of cleanliness; the walls were papered ; the white pine floor could not possibly have been whiter; and the food was well cooked and well served. Ten cows, four horses, and about two hundred reindeer composed the stock; the cows and horses were pasturing in the woods. The hay crop was green, potatoes were growing finely, and the barley had a yellow tinge, and was nearly ready to be harvested.
My new boatmen were two stout young farm hands ; their long straight hair, hanging low upon their necks, forming a good protection against the mosquitoes. Though they had worked hard all day in the field, they pulled hard. When the air grew chilly one of them insisted upon giving me his coat, over which his shaggy hair had fallen. There was no help for it; I could not say nay, although I knew very well what the penalty would probably be.
The shores of Lake Tjâmâtisjaur were uninteresting; the higher hills being remote from the water, and the country be-came less and less picturesque as we went eastward.
At a distance of about twelve miles from Niavi we came to Tjamâtis, composed of several farms, near the outlet of a river formed by several lakes, the amount of water from which is considerable. Lake Tjsamatis narrows and forms a channel for a few hundred yards, below which are a few islets, and the entrance to Lake Skalkajaur. At the lower end, near its outlet, is the island of Bjorkholm, with a boat-station. Everybody had retired ; but the doors were not locked, and we entered one of the farm-houses without knocking. The husband was not at home, but the wife got up and gave me a supper of cold fish, bread, butter, cheese, and milk, and pre-pared a bed.
After a rest of an hour, my boatmen returned to Niavi, but not before shaking hands with me, according to custom. These men had worked all day when I arrived at Niavi, yet thought nothing of a pull of thirty miles. They had rested for only one hour, and were going back, for they were needed at home. They would have felt ashamed if they had taken advantage of the fact of their additional toil as an excuse for laziness.
A short walk through a narrow path brought me to the head of Lake Parkijaur, and an hour's sail to its lower end, where there is only one farm. After another short walk past the rapids I came to Lake Randijaur, and to a farm-house-the only habitation I could see on its shores. The single room presented such a picture of filth that it repelled me : I looked at the two beds, and shuddered at the thought of the vermin inhabiting the dark sheepskins, and thanked my stars that I was not to sleep here. The furniture consisted of some carpenter's tools, coffee pot, a few wooden bowls and dishes, two or three coffee-cups with saucers, a frying-pan, a kettle, some wooden benches, a wooden table, and a number of old and much used religious books. There were eight children in the family, several of whom were married; but the old man and his wife and a Lapp woman were the only occupants of the house.
When ready to start, the old woman washed her face and hands, combed her hair, and put on a clean dress over her dirty one, while the old man attired himself in his Sunday clothes, to take me to the next station, as boatmen always dress themselves in their holiday attire on such occasions. The couple got tired after a two-hours' pull.
Another station was at the lower end of the lake. Here the clothing of the men and the jackets of the women were made of skins, from which the hair had been removed, and all were equally filthy. At dinner they had no bread, butter, or cheese, but ate boiled fish in enormous quantities at a very dirty table. They drank sour milk from a bucket, but insisted that I should take a cup of coffee, which they made specially for me.
Here, after a ten minutes' pull, and a walk of forty minutes over a good road through a forest, we came to the head of Lake Vajkijaur, where were a number of reindeer, which had been left to graze on the lichen. The scenery had now become very tame. I obtained new boatmen, two boys and their father, all of whom pulled as hard as they could ; and, leaving the boat, a walk of an hour brought us to the Lapp hamlet of Jockmock. On my way to Jockmock an unaccountable fit of hunger had seized me. On arriving at the station I immediately called for food; but, unfortunately, the landlady was absent, and the minutes I had to wait seemed hours.
The village was completely deserted, and as no food was obtainable, I sought diversion by a ramble through it. While I was wandering, amusing myself by gazing at the log-houses with their earth-covered roofs overgrown with grass, and seeking for a human face,I saw a gentleman coining towards me,and remembered that I had a letter of introduction from the celebrated arctic explorer, Professor Nordenskiold,which had been given me in Stockholm, to Professor Baron von Düben, whom I was told I might meet in Lapland, as he was engaged in the study of that people. Instinctively I felt that this new-comer was the baron. We saluted, and looked at each other, and I asked, "Are you, sir, Professor Baron von Důben ?" "Yes," he answered. I said, "I have a letter of introduction to you. I have just crossed over from Norway." "I am glad to hear. it," said the professor, in perfect English. " I am so hungry," said I, " that I do not know what to do with myself. I am getting dizzy, and the servant at the station does not seem to be in a hurry, as her mistress is not at home." "Come with me," was the response; and we went to the parsonage, where he was a guest. I was presented to the hostess, and then to the baroness. The pastor's wife disappeared when she heard that I was half famished, and soon after I was invited to sit down to a bountiful meal.
The baron and his wife had spent the whole of the summer in Lapland. We concluded to travel together as far as the sea. To them I am indebted for a great deal of kindness, not only on our journey but also in Stockholm, and for many valuable letters of introduction, and also for several of the illustrations of Lapland which accompany this narrative—the original photographs having been taken by the baroness herself.
This Lapp village of Jockmock has a school and resident pastor. Its queer-looking church, with detached belfry, was built in 1753, a former one dating from 1607. It stands upon a hill, at the base of which flows the Lilla Lule River, the out-let of the lakes. In the well of the parsonage ice and snow seemed about two feet thick; and for only about three months the ground is without snow, the depth of which averages about four feet, and the ice three feet thick on the lakes. The frost penetrates the ground to a depth of six feet.
One of the occupations of the people is the mussel-fishery, in the river. Many of the shells contain pearls of considerable value.
There is a very large tract of country known as Lulea Lapp mark, which has an area of 327 Swedish square miles, composed of two socknar, or parishes. The parish of Jockmock, according to the last census, contains 648 Laplanders. It is divided into four byar, or districts—Jockmock, Tuorpenjaure, Sirkasluokt, and Sjokksjokk ; each one has its own pasture-ground in the mountains. Very few of these Laplanders ever go as far as the Norwegian coast.
From Jockmock, the Lule, as far as Storbacken, a distance of four Swedish miles, is not navigable; forming an almost continuous succession of rapids. A highway commences here, completed only a few years ago, and constructed during the great famine of 1867; a year memorable in the annals of Northern Europe, when, in consequence of an early and heavy frost in summer, the crops were destroyed, and desolation and death spread over vast districts. The lichen and the bark of the birch-tree, mixed with a little flour, became the food of the people after the cattle had been eaten up and nothing else was left. The year following a strong tide of emigration set out for America.
This road passes through a monotonous country, among morasses, through districts strewed with granite boulders. At the time of my journey the burned forest presented in many places features of utter desolation. These conflagrations are generally occasioned by the carelessness of the Lapps, or wood--men who neglect to extinguish their camp-fires. The loss is very severe, for trees in those regions grow very slowly, and it takes at least one hundred and fifty years for them to attain one foot in diameter; some are found not even half a foot in diameter, which are more than two hundred years old. There were thousands upon thousands of large fir-trees, either lying on the ground, blackened and charred, or standing, like black pillars, with their branches and tops burned off, while heaps of ashes and charcoal were seen everywhere. There was not a blade of grass or moss on the parched ground ; but now and then a tree or a cluster of trees had escaped the fury of the flames, making one marvel how it could have happened, for everything around had been destroyed in the fiery storm.
The farms were fast improving. In some houses the walls-,of the rooms were covered with paper; porcelain stoves ornamented the premises; fine white linen cloth covered the dining-room table for the stranger. Sometimes there was a little garden, in which radishes, onions, lettuce, and green pease were growing. Here and there, suspended ou some of the trees, a wolf-trap caught the eye.
Vuollerim is beautifully situated by a sheet of water, shaped like a horseshoe, and surrounded by fields of barley, oats, potatoes, and grassy meadows. The roofs of the houses were covered with birch-bark, over which poles were placed very close together, as a protection against the wind; on the top of many was a platform for drying the flesh of reindeer and sheep, which are slaughtered in November.
Not far from the hamlet the Lilla Lule River unites with the Stora Lule (stora meaning "large"), which rushes down through a grand rapid, and then forms the Porsi Fall, which is about ten feet in height. Below the fall the dry gravelly bed showed that the water had subsided.
The Stora Lule is the outlet of a series of lakes, like those forming the Lilla Lule. The upper one, the Virijaur, rises near the base of the great glacier of Sulitelma, 1948 feet above the sea. By ascending the river, the traveller will see the fall of Niommelsaska, which is formed by the Stora Lule River. In July it is said to be very fine, for that is the time when there is the greatest quantity of water. Part of the stream is a wile--rapid, with a total fall of 251 Swedish feet; in one place it leaps a distance of 102 feet. Grander still is the fall of Adnamuorki-Kortje, formed by the outlet of Lake Gjertejaur, at the point where the waters descend into Lake Pajiplolilujanr from a height of 134 feet. A few miles below Vuollerim the high-road ends at Storbacken, the river having fallen 650 feet from Jockmock. Here the marked changes between night and day are exhibited in the following thermometrical record for August 18th : At 8 A.M., 51°; at 9 A.M., in the sun, 94° ; at noon, in the shade, 60° ; at 2 pm., in the shade, 60° ; at 3.30 p.m., on the water, in the sun,106°. There was not a breath of wind during the whole evening, and I noticed that these great changes came gradually with a perfectly still atmosphere.
On the 19th, at 6 r.m., the thermometer stood at 54 ; but the air became chilly as the evening advanced. The sky was quite clear, and by eleven o'clock the temperature had fallen to 42°, and there was fear of a frost. By midnight the mercury marked 38°. During the night the weather became colder; and when I went out at 4 A.M., August 20th, the grass was white with frost, and the thermometer stood at 32°, although the sun was shining; but luckily the grain was not injured. It appears that from the 20th to the 24th of August, in some years, a heavy frost occurs in this region which injures or destroys the crops; but if the frost does not come, these are generally secure.
The wild raspberries were ripe, sparrows were numerous by the farms, and the swallows had not yet left for the south.
One of the facts which particularly struck me within the arctic circle was the great difference of temperature in the sun and. shade. I have noted, in the course of this narrative, the extent of these variations; and the reader, like myself, has no doubt been astonished to learn how powerful were the rays of the sun. Going out of its warmth into the shade, one feels the cool atmosphere, which often produces a chill, so great is the change. The heat of the sun was the greatest when it shone between the heavy leaden-colored clouds. 31y observations were made simultaneously with several thermometers. In the sun I used only the glass tubes, blackened bulb, which were placed in my felt-hat, carefully guarded against the wind, for the least breath on the glass at once produced a change of several degrees.
From Storbacken the Lule River, on its way to the sea, forms two reservoirs or lakes, between which, at Edefors, a distance of about 26 miles, is a fine rapid ; the second lake is 76 feet above the sea. Six miles farther navigation is resumed for a distance as far as Hedensfors, with another fall, below which, at Radek, a steamer takes you to the town of Lulea.
On the last two lakes the farms and hamlets are more nu merons, and larger, and the landscape diversified with forests and fields.
The rye here often yields enormous crops, and was very good ; many of the stalks were six and seven feet high, and some taller. The Blâklint, Bluets (commonly called bache-TVs-button), Centaurea cyanus, and poppies were numerous, and their bright colors cheered the eye; two and a half feet beneath this luxuriant vegetation the ground was frozen.
At Râback we found the steamer Gellivara waiting, and soon after our arrival we steamed down the river. The governor of the province was on board, and I was presented to him. As we descended, the stream became wider and wider: we stopped at several points, and passed the agricultural school, and in the evening of August 20th arrived at Lulea.
The journey from Qvickjock to the sea gives a fair idea of the water-shed of nearly all the rivers of Sweden.
Luleâ, lat. 65° 41', the most -northern town after Haparanda, is situated at the mouth of the river from which it derives its name, and is the residence of the landshofding, or "governor," of the lam ("province") of Norrbotten, which jurisdiction extends to the most northern part of the country. The town consists of wooden houses, and there are several warehouses, for this is a centre of trade, like all the Swedish towns built at the mouths of rivers, and it is also a sort of entrepôt for goods. A large timber trade is carried on, and many vessels are loaded every year. During the summer months everything comes by steamer, for goods cannot be transported in winter by the land route except at enormous cost. The houses are large, many of them painted white and the others red.
The little town is adorned with a large stone church, built in the middle of a square. The interior of the building is very plain. No paintings adorn the whitewashed walls; but over the altar is a large gilt wooden cross, with a crown at the top and at the base a heart and anchor, with a representation of what I supposed to be laurel leaves. The pulpit is gaudily gilded.
The prison is an octagonal stone building, which has been standing for a number of years, and is surrounded by a plank fence, painted red. The cells are seventeen in number, and of different sizes and shapes. On the upper story are the quarters of prisoners condemned to solitary confinement. The average size of the cells is about ten feet in length by seven feet in width. Hammocks are used instead of beds. Each cell has a little window, strongly guarded with iron bars; and every door has a thick glass, or bull's-eye, through which the watchman can command a view of the interior. I was surprised to find only six persons under sentence, and was told that the greatest number ever known was in the time of the famine, when there were as many as twenty. The laws are rigidly enforced ; disorderly conduct, shouting in the streets, and disturbances at night, fighting, mutilation of trees, violations of the game-laws, disobedience on board ships; disrespect to the police, and many other offences, being promptly punished; and., above all, the theft of any article, however small, subjects the offender to a severe penalty. In summer, when the ports are open, and when strangers arrive in search of work, the number of the prisoners is largest.
The sale of ardent spirits is permitted; and I am sorry to say that the inn was noisy, presenting at, times a scene of drunkenness which left a bad impression on my mind. Of course, it is at the worst in summer; for then the sailors, lumbermen, and stevedores make the most of their time while in town ; and the prison is often occupied by men merely guilty of disorderly conduct and drunkenness. Order is preserved in the streets by three or four policemen, or watchmen, whose voices are heard at night, and whose duty it is to give an alarm in ease of fire.
I was invited to a reception at the residence of the governor, who was a widower, and his daughter, a young lady of twenty summers, was a charming hostess. Almost every lady present spoke English, or some other foreign language. Music and singing formed the chief feature of the evening's entertainment, and every one seemed to try, with unaffected courtesy, to make the stranger feel at home. " You must go and see old Lulea," said some of the ladies. " Will not some of you go with me ?" inquired I. I invited two young ladies, and a married one to chaperone them; they accepted, good-naturedly remarking, "We know that in America gentlemen invite young ladies to drive."
The governor showed me his garden, in which he seemed to take great pride. The raspberries were quite ripe ; garden strawberries were ripening ; currants were getting red ; goose-berries and blackberries were still green ; beets, turnips, and carrots were in fine condition; cabbages and cauliflowers were yet to come to head; spinach and radishes were plentiful ; pease had blossomed and podded.
I remarked the absence of apple and cherry trees, which do not grow in this latitude in Sweden ; but dahlias, asters, petunias, dicentra, Delphinium (larkspur), Zinnia, Bellis (daisy), Digitalis (foxglove), Hesperis (rocket), Antirrhinum (snap-dragon), lupines, violets, deutzia, double carnations, tulips, peonies, anemones, lilies, and lilacs were cultivated.
Though only the 24th of August, the days were getting shorter very fast; at 10.30 P.M. the shades of evening were upon us, the stars twinkling above our heads. It was pleasant to see the moonlight again after an interval of three months. Every night had been cloudy since I had left Norway; and at about eleven o'clock the first aurora borealis of the autumn was shining in the heavens. When it appears in this latitude before midnight, it is regarded as a sign of north and easterly winds; and if it appears after, of south-easterly winds.