Sometimes, it’s just about being alone. In the open countryside, in close communion with nature. Our valley. No cars, no dress code, no meetings. Instead: the vast heavens and the evermore whispering sound of winds, creating a universal feeling of togetherness, even though no one is around. Later that afternoon: Friends and a hot wine punch by the fire. What more could a heart desire?
This time round, it’s exactly two events that motivated me to come up with the following blog entry. First: I finished watching Netflix’ gothic horror series „The Haunting of Hill House“. Second: calendar date, suggesting that many people around the globe are currently preparing for next week’s Halloween. Fog of anxiety, supernatural powers and the relinquishment of logic. That’s all very well, but when it comes to getting the creeps, I also prefer the old-fashioned way. Like: stepping outside and stepping right into a creepy gothic gray scenery. Premise: being in the Faroe Islands, and fitting weather conditions. For the rest: All you have to do is use your imagination.
The shot above features our village and boat houses in pale October light. Legend has it that Marmennilin, a mischievous merman with long fingers, human shape but smaller, lived right here in Elduvík, on the bottom of the sea, they say. Now, that’s an odd thing. Didn’t I just catch sight of wet footprints leading towards the triangle-shaped shed at center? The haunting of boat house! Strange, though, no trace of wet footprints as I check my pictures afterwards.
Puzzling. Another nasty deed of the marmennilin, as far as I’m concerned. An unpleasant fellow who used to bully all the fishermen by stealing bait and messing around with hand-lines and fishhooks. Anfinn the farmer managed to get hold of the marmennilin in legend, until such time as the merman escaped again. Where to? My guess: bottom of the bay and boat house. The merman’s vacation rental: most probably located on the curvy road Oyndarfjarðarvegur, a place I named „The dark lake“, correct name Á Klettum, a remote spot enveloped in weird, ghostlike light.
Just for the record: While Halloween in the Faroes is far from being as big as it is, for example, in the US, it’s slowly becoming more popular. Therefore, My Faroe Islands, Anja’s blog, decided to present an appropriate bonus picture. A Halloween classic. Fog. In this particular case: The village of Bøur on the island Vágar in misty conditions.
If everything goes according to plan, a marmennilin statue will be set up in our village Elduvík next year. Further information on the legend, the mischievous merman and the project: Marmennilin
Life in a northern village in the month of July. Neighborhood telephone chain (usually on short notice and weather-dependent), followed by chain of action: uphill for hours, encircling shaggy sheep in the mountains, relentless and yet controlled pursuit downhill, herding nervous protagonists into yard, short break, and, finally, all set for several hours of blade shears work, accompanied by a setting that – as for my part – creates sudden inspirations, including word combinations such as „sheep rodeo“ and „the temporary taming of the shaggy shrew“.
Sheep shearing in the Faroe Islands, first-hand: This is what it takes to do a good job. Four essentials in brief. TEAM SPIRIT, MEN AND DOGS. Needed: Just the right mixture of boldness, vigilance, caution and common sense, in order to be successful for one thing and get back safe and sound just the same. Pictures foggy mountain top scenery and friend and farmer Eivind, together with Malan's untiringly sheep dog Blakk: courtesy of fellow team member Francesco.
PROVISIONS. Soft drinks, coffee and tea; pancakes sprinkled with sugar; skerpikjøt, dry-aged Faroese lamb, and bread; all served right after the sheep have been herded into the yard. Equally indispensable: Joint evening meal, quite possibly roasted lamb, potatoes and brown sauce. Dessert: Coffee and ice cream. Or súreplakøka, one big bowl, æblekagerasp (sweet roasted bread crumbs), applesauce and whipped cream put in layers one on top of the other.
EQUIPMENT & TECHNIQUES. Walkie-talkies and shouting (communication up in the mountains and sheep dog commands). Outstretched arms (stopping naughty four-legged balls of wool from running into wrong direction). Clipping sheep: Sharp blades. Clothing: rubber boots, hair ties, short sleeve tee and sweater, layered, suitable for Faroese weather, and rubber pants. I rather like to wear an old pair of jeans. Cheerful countryside dress code note: Organic remains such as grass stains and traces of discoloration caused by animal excrement tend to stay in the denim for good.
BODILY POWER & ULTIMATE SHEARING PERFECTION. Getting the sheep up on the clipping table, one by one: physically demanding, as the day progresses. Shearing itself: Best done in sets of two 'haircutters'. Next challenge: wool. Wool??? Where to cut without doing damage: Stretch sheep’s shock-headed dress and clip threads appearing between skin and the continuously growing piece of glorious wool mess. Jumping-jack-sheep treatment: Some soft-talk and gentle head massage frequently works miracles – in my experience.
Another practical approach (admittedly uncommon): to bribe the sheep in question. Simply present a dainty bouquet of hand-picked flowers. Like I did, on the occasion of My Faroe Islands’ 3rd birthday. Sheep shearing: The perfect way to celebrate that kind of blogaversary, isn’t that so? My Faroe Islands, Anja's blog. Pictures and stories from a windswept archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic. Readers from more than 50 countries taking an interest in 18 lush green, mountainous islands half way between Scotland and Iceland – and in my blog. Thank you for following!
My Faroe Islands on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myfaroeislands/
Crowded in Elduvík! The people of the village (15 registered permanent residents plus summer house owners) and several hundred visitors are celebrating Summarhugni, as the day progresses. A cozy summer get-together. Open church, guided village tours, photo exhibition and hitapottar (outdoor bath tubs or whirlpools). Guests, friends & families gathering in houses, gardens and a big party tent.
Slush ice, waffles, homemade cakes, dried fish, skerpikjøt (dry-aged Faroese lamb), all kinds of food, many people contributed. The credit for Summarhugni belongs to Bjarni Garðshorn, Alexandur Joensen and Beinta Dam. The idea has been born in Elduvík’s old school, a traditional meeting place for the villagers. Later on tonight: tug of war and barbecue. Gonna go now, back to the social gathering – in anticipation of another long day and short summer night in Elduvík.
Did you happen to know ... guided tours and overall picture of the busy village
Social gathering and all kinds of food in the party tent, houses and people's gardens
Welcome to the old school. Inside the house: Elduvík-history and photo exhibition
Beinta preparing food, and a moment of silence in the church. Below: Rope ready for tug of war
Driving back from Runavík after having done some shopping. Visiting my friend Frida Meinertsdóttir Reyná on the other side of our village. Cleaning our kitchen and working on the computer in our living room afterwards. Four activities, having one thing in common. Superstructure: Extraordinary window views. Pictures: Three times our village Elduvík and one passenger seat shot taken in Funningsfjørður on the way home. Have a great week!
Kitchen window view. Above: Elduvík houses and bay as seen from our living room window
On the way back home. Car front window: Passenger seat photography of Funningsfjørður
Visiting our friend Frida on the other side of the village. Mountains and boathouses within sight
Stórá – the river that runs through our valley and village before cheerfully mingling with North Atlantic waters down by the beach – burst its banks and extensively spilled over to the neighboring grassland and ground recently.
As soon as I became aware of the situation, I texted my friend Frida: „ Any sheep on boats passing by?“ Reply: „No, sorry. Three laughing crying smileys“. Making up sheep jokes: That’s something we do all the time. With good reason. Faroese sheep are capable of many things. And they do crazy stuff under your nose at all times.
Their rhythm of life: Summer mountains, winter villages, to put it simply. Meaning that, at this time of the year, you bump into sheep every other second. Characteristic features: High jump meetings (sheep grazing on grass roofs). Conclaves (sheep blocking sheltered corners and house entrances). And beach parties (sheep accurately investigating washed-up algae and salt content of incoming waves, probably for mixed drinks).
Situation comedy all around. All you have to do is pay attention. Take, for example, the picture above. Cheeky sheep & stranded boat. A scene I captured during a village walk. I mean: What exactly was little innocent up to when I bumped into the situation? First hop over a mossy wall, then get ready for boarding? Numerous encounters with sheep, providing tons of material to quicken the imagination (grid). My Faroe Islands. See what's next. Small Town Sheep, Season 1.
Episode 1: Dizzy Speed. Sheep on its way home, ready to grab car keys, cellphone and shopping list from kitchen table. A journey into the unknown. Episode 2: Confirmed Criminal. Wolf in sheep’s clothing, unashamedly ignoring what poop bags and garbage cans are made for. Episode 3: High Society. Green lawnmower on grass roof. Up one minute, down the next? Stay tuned! Episode 4: Forbidden Fruit. Longwool bachelor secretly planning a private dooryard party on other people’s property. Delivery status of invitation cards: in progress. The mailman just arrived at the house next door.
More sheep in the Faroe Islands (about 70,000) and on my blog (check out categories and website footer tag cloud). Faroese lawnmower in action: Sheep on a Shaggy Grass Roof
Life’s moving forward and another year comes to an end, unswerving, unstoppable, sceptered, just like winter waves in our bay, as seen from our living room window. Tick-tock, life time running: We look back, analyze facts, draw conclusions, make plans and move forward, driven by our values and desires. Christmas and contemplation, Happy New Year and an unpredictable horizon in front of us. My Faroe Islands says: Gleðilig jól og gott nýggjár! May all your dreams come true.