Here there is not even a “hamlet,” but just the buildings of one prosperous farm, for the stars to shine on through a long winter night. And it will be a cozy winter, too, according to local standards of comfort. Those laden grain-poles that look like a regiment of soldiers on parade, mean plenty to eat during the long interval when the sun turns a very cold shoulder on this region. Fuel can be had to any desired amount without thinning the tree-growth in such a way as to invite avalanches. The roofs are snug and tight. There will be plenty of hay for all the cows and goats. The building of a new boat, the making of new farm-tools or household furniture, and tasks of that sort, will give the men-folk sufficient employment to keep time from hanging heavy on their hands. The women find plenty of occupation in their housework, spinning, knitting and sewing. When the weather does not encourage going down to Loen to church, they can read their Bibles and other religious books, and feel themselves in harmony with the general spirit of the Sabbath. Yes, if it is the Simple Life one wants, he can lead it here as well as anywhere in the world.
It was on some such estate, only in a house of logs, that Farmer Ironbeard must have livedthe rich yeoman whose independence of king and court is chronicled in the ancient Heimskringla and retold by Long-fellow in the familiar story :
“Hodden gray was the garb he wore And by the hammer of Thor he swore ; He hated the narrow town and all its fashions.
But he loved the freedom of his farm, His ale at night by the fireside warm, Gudrun, his daughter, with her flaxen tresses.
He loved his horses and his herds, The smell of the earth and the song of birds, His well-filled barns, his brook with its water-cresses.”
One of the most interesting land-journeys in all Norway is between this lake region and the head of the Geiranger Fjord, farther north. The best way to start is from a posting station at the head of Lake Stryn, a few miles northeast of Loen Lake. A glance at Map S will show just where the basin of Stryn is located, and our next position will be found, marked 80, at its eastern end.