When I saw the picture prompt above from Teresa aka The Haunted Wordsmith it brought back memories from my time in the North of Sweden.
It was an amazing place. We had the holiday of a life-time all thanks to a special friend of our’s, who surprised us every day with spectacular adventures that we never imagined we would have chance to enjoy. We went sledging with husky dogs, visited frozen waterfalls, we went go-carting on an icy lake, and were given the exhilarating experience of snowmobiles in the middle of the night. Our friends were incredibly generous towards us.
But there was one chap named Nick who made me laugh. All of our Swedish friends said Nick was a funny guy – funny as in strange. He gave us an adventure to remember though.
On our last night in Sweden we had a bit of a party. Nick asked one of the guys (Phil) we had travelled with, if we had done everything we wanted. Two of us girls joined in the conversation and assured him the whole trip had been beyond any of our wildest expectations. However, Phil said he was disappointed that he had not seen reindeer. Nick claimed he knew where to find reindeer. Phil was eager to go with Nick. All of our other Swedish friends advised against it. They thought we were extremely unlikely to come across reindeer, no matter what Nick claimed.
I don’t know how Phil talked me into it, but a short time later, Alison, Phil and I were in the car with Nick. I will never forget how much I kept on laughing, all because Nick kept up this continuous commentary about all the places we were passing, followed by the phrase “but you cannot see because of the ice on the window”. He said that in his very Swedish accent.
“Aaan ze lefft es vury spektakuleer kassel – es leeved en by famors harr dresser…but you cannot see becoz of ze ice aaan se vindows” … or something like that. Sorry to any Swedish readers!
We could not see anything out of the side windows. Nick could see the road ahead thank goodness, but we could not see any of the sites he was describing. We seemed to be driving for a couple of hours. It was getting really late. It was probably about 1am when I suggested we head back because we were going to have to be up and ready to leave our accommodation at 5am to travel to the airport.
That’s when Nick slowed down the car and we all gasped. There was a reindeer in the middle of the road. Nick stopped the car of course. A tremendous wave of excitement rushed through me. Nick told us that the reindeer in the road was a youth, and that if there was one reindeer here, there would be a lot more close by. We waited in silence.
Sure enough, another larger reindeer appeared. Then another and another. They all crossed the road in front of us.
Alison and I were hugging each other with excitement. We could not believe what we were seeing.
Nick then told us to get out of the car. We were unsure. I asked if we would frighten the reindeer. He was confident that we would not so long as we were respectful and didn’t move too quickly.
So Nick led the way, slowly but surely following the reindeer up the hill and into the forest. The snow was deep and we were sinking into it in places. But we kept on climbing back up and following silently. The reindeer did not seem bothered by our presence at all. We were so close. We were close enough to touch them, but none of us wanted to frighten them. Instead, we just walked quietly alongside them.
At one point I gazed around and realized there were probably well over a hundred deer around us. I knew this was a rare opportunity and I was trying to drink in all the detail of the scene in front of my eyes, knowing this was going to be a story I told over and over to friends and family.
The reindeer were steadily moving further and further up the hill, through the forest. Eventually the trees gave way to a flat clearing. It was only then that we really had a sense of how many reindeer were present.
As well as the tremendous excitement I remember feeling, my other main impression was how much smaller reindeer are than I expected. They were smaller than the deer I have seen over here in England.
I do wish we all had the chance to see animals up close like that, rather than catching a glimpse of them in a zoo or on a television documentary.
Nick was a funny (as in strange) guy perhaps, but we would be forever grateful to him for giving us an adventure we would never forget.