We had been looking forward to this, almost from the time that we moved into our house.
We loved the view as soon as we saw it, and here on the Vojmån River we find so many moments of gratitude. The river has defrosted so quickly, even if we have snowy sights like this in between all the defrosting.
(This was last Sunday. It was snow free by the next day again!).
The Vojmån Bridge is the only place that the Sami (Lapps) can get their reindeer across towards mountain grazing once the rivers have started melting.
We have been waiting to see this event for a while… and today it happened!
All the reindeer in Sweden belong to the Sami. They are as precious over reindeer as the Maassai over cattle. Maybe more so. It is very poor form to ask a Sami how many reindeer he owns. It is a great transgression against all Sami-dom to kill a reindeer by mistake. They may not be shot, knocked down by cars or frowned at.
The look on that face lets you know a great deal about the mental capabilities of these creatures. They are not highly regarded for their intelligence. The brain agility is perhaps best compared to an amoeba.
But they are pretty.
And they may roam wherever they want to in Sweden.
Travellers are very smart to watch out for them on the roads at all times.
Reindeer wander about in smallish groups most of the time. But they are herded together for summer, to head into the cooler mountains. To get to the mountains, the deer must cross the bridge. Which just happens to be about 300meters from our house.
So we followed the movements: our landlord kept us informed of news broadcasts of their journey. This morning Deon saw the Lapps preparing by fixing fences across the bridge to ensure there would be no option but to cross.
While chatting to my brother on the phone I was informed by the landlord, with a sign. The Reindeer would be arriving soon.
We went out, prepared with cameras.. and we were an hour or so too early.
Went back home, kept watch from the porch.
Then it was unquestionable: we heard the helicopter and the snowmobiles. The first sight of them across the bridge was breath taking.
Thousands and thousands of reindeer. All traffic was stopped to allow them to make the crossing.
We had to stand far back: the leader deer (not Rudolf) was rather uncertain, and at one stage three renegades did move away from the others and come dashing past us. But for the most part it was a steady stream of hooves beating and bells ringing as they pounded across the bridge.
They were moved along by a small helicopter and nine snow-scooters, besides the traffic that had been held up by the herds.
And one dear soul running for all her worth to chase the herds to safety.
Very soon after the bridge crossing, the reindeer were diverted into the forests, to make their own way to the mountains.
And within ten minutes it was all over.
The wealth of the Lapps is sent off into the forests, the roads are reasonably clear for cars and we have an amazing experience to share with others.
We were frowned at for trying to capture this. But we are just crazy Africans. We cannot help ourselves!