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Fairy tale (2014)


Every Easter and summer when i was a child my mother took me and my brothers to the old mountain farm where my grandmother grew up in the north of Norway. It is called Bjerkmoen, which translates to 'the hill with birches on it'. Here there is no electricity, and water needs to be fetched in the little stream near the house. It is not possible to drive all the way here, and one has to carry everything one plans to eat or wear on the back. There used to be loads of of other relatives there, but there was always room for everyone. In the evenings, when the children had been put to bed there would be loud noises from the living room since the adults were drinking. One could of course hear everything through the walls here so it was like being in the same room anyway. Sometimes the men would fight. At least as I recall it. I think my grandfather and my father had some kind of feud cause they always ended up in a fight.


During the war my great-grandfather used to hide people from the Germans here, and he helped them flee to Sweden over the mountain. My grandmother used to tell me stories from the war when we were there. She also told me stories about the wolf. One time when her big sister (Titti) was little she had skied all the way home alone, and afterwords someone else had seen wolf tracks behind her tracks, all the way back. That wolf had possibly considered her as his next meal? The thought of it gave me goosebumps. I think she also told me some stories about eagles that had taken little children, but since this is so long ago I might also have dreamt it. And then there was the ghost stories. The house definitely had more than one ghost. Luckily one was never alone there  and I am only scared of ghosts when I am alone.

I was never a big nature-person, and when I was little these trips were not something I voluntarily would go on (especially the skiing: In the winter we had to ski all the way there with big backpacks and now that I am an adult I have sworn to never put on a pair of skis again). But my mother always was. For her there is a religious dimension to nature. And she loves this old house with its memories and its silence. However, since the house was inherited by another branch of the family she had not been there for many years when she took me, my daughter and my niece there in 2014. As I recall we only spent one night there. This photo-essay is about that trip, and my daughter and my niece discovering the old house as well as nature and its secrets.

Even if it is three years between them those two kids always had a very strong bond. And on this trip they collaborated on the project of building houses for the elves that I told them lived in these woods. I think they believed me. And i think the elves where grateful for their new houses, made of the finest moss and stones and pine cones.

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