After the party at Senja festival, my daughter Ellen was replaced by Mari. Mari had travelled overland from UK by bus boat and train. A long long way and it was great for both of us to be out on the open road and breathing the fresh air. Watching the plants and calling to the gulls. Many kilometers and cloudberries later we found this camping spot.
Early next morning seabirds and geese were sunning themselves, dolphins jumping and in the lake two otter children were playing. An endless game of tumbling and diving, running through the long grass and springing onto one another. Birds of a feather fly together. I’ve noticed how the same species delight in hanging out together and I feel the same way, it’s really nice to be two wanderers.
Now we are in Skaland, North in Senja. We are staying with Gerd. When Gerd was 3 she damaged her foot so the first year at the summer farm with grandmother she was lifted onto a cow and held the horns as she rode around. From the next year she and her sister who was four years older, herded the cows.
Her grandmother was quite someone in her quiet way. At the age of four her mother had died and had been drawn to the graveyard by a white horse. From that time she sometimes dreamt of a white horse which often gave her messages. When she was 11 she dreamt that the white horse jumped over a cliff. She knew exactly where it was so the next day she went there with the cows she was herding. Lying below the cliff she heared cries and found a young carpenter who had fallen there the day before. She got help and the young man recovered. He was 19 at the time, and when she was older they became sweethearts and married. You can’t really get more romantic than that. Here is a picture of them on their wedding day.
But back to Gerd. The girls looked after six cows belonging to grandmother and six from various neighbors. They were up round six o’clock and after milking and breakfast were out most of the day. The cows loved certain flowers and mushrooms, but this made the milk bitter so the girls often had to run through nettles to stop them. And watch out as there were steep slopes and much bog. Once a cow got stuck in the mire and Gerd ran to get grandmother, a rope and some planks. Luckily the cow had horns to tie the rope on, but as it struggled only the head remained above the ground. Being careful not to fall in themselves they dragged and pulled. At last they got a plank under the cows knees and it survived.
After herding each day they helped with the butter and cheese-making. Gerd says it was heaven.
At that time girls had little ‘minnebøker’ where you wrote your name, favorite food and so on. Under favorite place she and her sister always wrote ‘setra’. At one time a girl cousin came to stay and cried and was homesick. She and her sister looked at one another with disbelief. They might have cried if they hadn’t been allowed to be at the Setra.