24th September: I could see it happening yesterday afternoon and now, this second morning, it continues—the terrain changes, becomes lower and less treed mountains. Bergen’s latitude is 60.4 degrees N. and now we’re above 63 degrees, although I’m not sure exactly where we are. Seems a lot of change for so little latitudinal difference; geology isn’t affected by it but climate would be. I hadn’t noticed before on the map but there’s progressively less carving of the coast line by fjords as we go north. Does lower elevations mean less ice movement and so less fjord- cutting? I don’t know. Trees are shorter, reminding me that tree-line seemed to appear, as the train moved upslope from Oslo, at about 4,000’. So many variables conspire at every locale to produce a landscape just right for it. Nature and nonhuman animals always seem to know what they are doing and where they are and maybe what’s best for themselves. By my compass we’re now moving southeast; we may be sailing toward Trondheim. The map also shows me that there are fewer roads now, so less joggling around to follow erratic coastline and probably fewer people.
I have realized on this trip that I am less drawn to “spectacle” (as the noun form of spectacular) than ever, particularly if it’s humanmade. Nature’s versions still draw me but even with them, as in Iceland where tourists thronged them, I was readily drawn to less popular, less spectacular areas where I found it still possible and much easier to quietly appreciate what was before me. I enjoy Nature’s variety and I believe in the intrinsic unity of it all and want to be open to its experience at all times. If 500 tourists approached a grand waterfall in silence, reverently, hand-in-hand, unitive relationship would be possible even then, but I don’t count on it happening. Illumination is never assured or predictable, but I can open the window whenever I choose—no question that the energy of 500 would be powerful itself but it won’t happen spontaneously and my responsiveness can.
Thinking again of all these remote communities, I always wonder how people choose where to live. I imagine that most of the time it’s work- or family-related but I’d like to know how often it’s a specific choice of place or kind of place. My own relocations were never forced but resulted from attraction to a kind of work, and retrospectively I regret that I didn’t factor locale into my equations strongly enough. I didn’t understand the power of surroundings to shape inner meanings. Now that humans have mostly severed their relations with the natural world I’m sure my early ignorance is common, and I believe harmful to spirit. Better late than never for me but I don’t doubt that the delay was costly.