Kirstyn Williams reporting from the land of Snow, Star Wars and Shackleton.
A somewhat beautiful sunset. I was listening to someone play traditional music from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Kite-surfing sails were floating past in the distance. I was contemplating both everything and nothing. It would have made an idyllic beach scene – but I was actually freezing my bollocks off. The music was being played on a harp made of ice, and I was 10 below zero at the 20th anniversary of the Ice Music Festival in Finse.
I was going to go there one day I had decided. And when I say things, I do them. This impulsivity is both good and bad. Everyday is a mid-life crisis of sorts. Surreal moments in the rich tapestry of life.
I travelled by train with the anti-muse. My creative juices were merely flowing as stagnant custard. I wasn’t really sure who I was anymore, but then does anyone? At the station, I smoked a cigarette, despite it no longer being the cool or cheap thing to do. The previous time I had come to Finse, the previous November, I had brought my wetsuit, not knowing that the lake was completely frozen over. It had become my favourite place in Norway so far, however.
I felt like the abominable condom in my long johns, perhaps I needed to be honest with myself regarding my smågodt consumption over the winter. Me, with expanding waistline, but feeling like a smaller person. I also felt far too working class for the hotel. Snow resorts invite your usual unfriendly middle-class wankers in top of the range gear, and super nice normal people. Since class existed, so did the commodification of the great outdoors. But you can always turn up like a bag of shit like I always do, the mountains don’t judge. Just get out there! Find intimacy in Solitude. Life. The weather. Luck. All can change in a mere moment.
I hired some snowshoes to galavant across the lake to see the glacier, the fifth largest in area in Norway. As British people are born with banana peels on their feet instead of skis like most Norwegians, I thought it best to leave the cross-country skis well alone. I contemplated dropping trow but didn’t want to melt the ice with a cascade of urine and fall into the icy depths, atleast I’d make it into the Darwin Awards I suppose.
This year’s festival had an explicitly sustainable ethos, the previous year the set design had actually started melting, which is unheard of in Finse. I had seen some rather sorry looking glaciers around the world in my time. But if you like your ski resorts, and long-haul holidays, a Tesla is only going to put a plaster over the wound.
There is a room in the hotel dedicated to Star Wars being filmed there, which is worth the trip alone. Long before oil was discovered, this made Norway a little more open to the world, this was Hollywood on Norwegian Soil well before Tom Cruise and James Bond. It was poignant to see photographs of Carrie Fisher, the late but fabulous patron for mental health, relaxed and in simpler times with Mark Hamill, before dreadful fame and Paul Simon got their mitts on her.
I found a letter saying ‘open me’ in the hotel lobby. Like a scruffy Alice in Wonderland of course I opened it. The letter wanted me to write on a postcard what I would do with my last day on earth and post it. I could say about the cheddar cheese and Laproigh but I had to censor myself somewhat on the other stuff. I have now got a random penpal from Taiwan!
But I digress. I’d like to see a Hammond Ice Organ. Ice Prog Rock. Genes-ice. Okay, enough with the dad puns. The previous night had been a full moon a starry sky, I still felt lucky with my lot. Cozied up in the snowy amphitheatre, my heart thawing, my head full of dreams of future adventures to Svalbard, Alta, Kyrgestan and Tibet. Amy’s grandfather once telling us as youngsters in the caravan, ‘To be full of the world.’ Was this hope or just indigestion?
Back to the bar for Ægir IPA and company. It was a day of many firsts, I had now discovered what a Badgermin was (If you don’t know, and I’d be worried if you did). It’s a sort of Stuffed Badger/Theremin Hybrid. A fever dream from the demented mind of someone with a few bodies in the basement.
So go to the Ice Music Festival, and if you can’t afford it like me, go and volunteer next year. Who knows how many years it will be around for? Most importantly, get out there, it’s all up for the taking.