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On a bus from Bergen to Volda, Norway

October 2012

This—this—is nature unmolested. Fjords cut steep, rocky valleys through the coast of Norway. The spread of the water is in some places wide—one, two kilometers across—and in others just a mellow river’s breadth.

The land available for settlement is scant and sparse, and homes are built against the sides of the immense rock faces. You don’t have room for a Wal-Mart here. Where would you build it? And how would people get to it? Where there are larger towns it seems the buildings are wholly subservient to geography, crushed between crystal water and sheer mountain face.

Our bus has to cross by ferry at several points, and the roads we’re driving now are terrifyingly small, the edge of the bus hanging over a precipice as we are forced to pass the occasional eighteen wheeler close enough to joust.

Sheep graze along the side of the road. When the sun breaks through the clouds over a fjord’s peak it sheds light like a god’s blessing. The more I see of the natural world the more I understand the minds and motives of our ancestors.

5,000 year old viking rock carving (of an elk?) in Narvik

Behind some of these houses you can see, as you frequently do along these fjord walls, waterfalls cascading, thin and meek, to the water below. Everywhere, one can see the activity of glaciers millennia past—boulders perched precariously in unlikely positions, fields of stones with centuries of moss spread on them. To someone raised on modern films, it all seems like some fantastical CGI of an impossible world brought to life. I don’t know if I can do this place justice with words. I don’t know if I should keep trying.

Stetind Mt. in Narvik

And so I won’t.

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