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To the Roof of Europe

After returning to the cabin, Kate cooked some kind of rice dish. My brother lapped the stuff up, but not having a predilection for rice, I went outside for a cigarette around the back, only to find half the cabin was on low stilts. Suddenly, I saw a black and yellow small furry animal scuttling around. My first lemming! Lemmings, as I am sure the reader knows (and I thought I knew) have a reputation for mass cliff suicides. In reality, in mild winters, their population increase leads to over-grazing. They search for unfamiliar territory in search of food until they overcrowd themselves. Panic and violence through competition for space results in accidents, whereby the lemmings fall off of cliffs by mistake. Being in the middle of a relatively flat part of Finland and still far from the Norwegian sea cliffs in a spacious area, perhaps this particularly sensible one I encountered possessed some kind of mutated gene and these furry little creatures are in places undergoing some kind of Darwinian natural selection process – a fight for survival by avoiding cliff edges.

The next day started with a visit to Siida, an open air museum in the village of Inari. It is home to the Sámi Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre. It is worth noting here that the Sámi people span parts of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are also known as Lapps, although this term is now considered politically incorrect and derogatory. Kate said she would wait outside so as not to pay the admission fee. My brother and I took a few hours walking around the open air museum, containing various buildings of the Sámi people. The first buildings were moved to the 17 acre site in 1960. The area has nearly 50 sites of interest relating to the Sámi culture, way of life and Lapland’s nature. The area is where settlers in northern Lapland lived from c. 9000 years ago; archaeological evidence has shown. Lo and behold, Kate was waiting by the car after our walk around Siida Museum. By now we had figured she was travelling around by the cheapest means possible, as she told us she had crept into the outdoor exhibits by climbing through a wood around the back of the site to gain entry.

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