Pictures I Didn’t Take

There are some things that I would like to show you about the Faroe Islands, but I can’t take a picture of them that really does them justice.

  • Storms when the wind blows the waterfalls up hill, rather than down.
  • A still, foggy summer night when everything is quiet and sounds are muffled, and the silence is interrupted by birds on the steep hillsides arguing over the best places to sleep for an hour or two.
  • Walking along a deserted road late at night, when people, animals, and birds all seem to be asleep, when a startled bird flies up from its nest beside the road.
  • Same road, same night, everything silent and muffled, and I pass a hay shed in the shadows beside the road and surprise a grazing pony, who neighs loudly in my ears – BWAAAH HAAAH HAAAH Haaah bwaaah haaah haaa….
  • When I open my window late at night to take a picture of the night sky or the mountains or the ships, the only sound I hear is the water on the other side of my fence swishing back and forth in the seaweed.
  • Have you ever had several dozen birds flying in the sky over your head, dipping, diving, swooping, and squawking, trying to scare you away from their nesting grounds?
  • Night and Day

    We have had several lovely days this week, and usually the nights are even more lovely. Even though I have often been here in the Faroe Islands during June and July, I still find the long summer days remarkable. The sun sets somewhere on the other side of the mountain at about 11:30 p.m., but it doesn’t ever go very far below the horizon before it starts to rise again. It seems that often, late at night, the winds die down and the clouds disappear, and everything is calm and beautiful. So here is Fuglafjørður, night and day.

    Up the Mountain Side

    In early June I went up the mountain side with a neighbor, who was going up to mark a new-born lamb. Most lambs are born from late April to the end of May, but this one waited until the first week of June, after the sheep had all been moved back up to the high mountain fields.

    I only went part way up the mountain, then I sat on a rock and waited, surrounded by several curious ewes and their lambs, who were sure that I must have come up the mountain to bring them food. Eventually, I convinced them that I didn’t have anything, and they left me alone. Meanwhile the fog came over the mountain and down the hillsides, making it difficult for my neighbor to find his new lamb. I got cold sitting on a rock, and as soon as I stood up and started to move around, some sheep several fields away saw me and came running, their lambs following them. These ewes were very sure that I must have something for them. Since I don’t speak their language, I couldn’t tell them that all I had in my pockets were a camera and some tissues.

    When lambs are born, the owners must mark them in the first day or so, because after that, the lambs are too fast and are nearly impossible to catch. One ear is tagged with a plastic clip that has the owner’s phone number, and the other ear is notched with a distinctive pattern unique to the owner.

    Several days ago, on a rare June day when it wasn’t raining, I made an attempt to walk up the trail to the pass between the two mountains. I have heard a rumor that the trail goes over the mountain to Hellur. I didn’t ever find the trail, but I did climb a ways up the mountain before I gave up. Even though it wasn’t raining, there were hundreds of small creeks running down the mountain, and I was forever jumping creeks or climbing fences. Eventually a little cloud came over the mountain pass and dropped a few rain drops on me, and I used that as an excuse to retreat back down the mountain. When I got near the bottom of the hill, I couldn’t remember how to find the street that says there is a trail to the pass, and after walking back and forth for a while, I finally just walked through someone’s garden, around the house, and down their front steps to get to the street where I had left my car. Some day I will climb to the top of the pass.

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