National Geographic : 1971 Jul
flag that marked Janny's longline, laid the day before. Einar engaged a winch that fed the line into wooden tubs, and leaned over the side with a short-handled gaff. Every six feet a hook emerged from the sea, some bare, some still baited, some tug ging reluctant brown-green cod up from the depths. Most of the fish Einar flung into the wooden bins on deck weighed 7 to 10 pounds. Now and then came a 20-pounder ripe with roe; such older females may bear several mil lion eggs. In minutes the cod lay blank-eyed and frozen. I clung to the swaying mast and quivered with cold through five layers of clothing. Jan ny's engine thumped somewhere deep inside my drum-taut stomach. Einar glanced up and grinned. "Fine day!" he shouted, and chipped more ice from the rail with his gaff. When the deck bins filled, Heiberg began pitching cod into the open hold. I calculated the day's labor of a Lofoten fisherman. Some 3,600 hooks; four miles of line to haul. Four miles of freshly baited hooks and line to lay. And then cleaning the catch at the fish buyer's shed. Tomorrow the same cycle. As the last tubful of line slid over the stern, followed by the marker buoy, Einar swung his arms, flogging his sides. "Ja,fine day," he said, contented. I knew he did not mean sim ply the ton of cod he had hauled aboard, although counting livers and roe the catch would bring nearly $300. But would it not be an easier life ashore - say, working in a factory? Einar frowned. "I have never worked one hour on land," he replied. "You love the sea that much?" "I could not live without it." THE FISHERMEN OF FINNMARK feel the same age-old bond. The sea grips Norway's northernmost and larg est county (bigger than Denmark) with five great fingerlike fjords. It levies its wintry price in cold and darkness, but offers liveli hood to those sturdy enough to dwell along this wild, bleak coast. Several weeks before I arrived, a storm had driven dozens of fishing boats into Hon ningsvag, near North Cape. When it abated, they went out as a fleet and struck an in credibly rich shoal of lodde-a little Arctic fish related to the salmon. In a single day they netted 700,000 hecto liters-about 70,000 tons-of fish. Some boats had to sail halfway down the Norwegian coast to find factories enough to process the huge catch into meal and oil. But Finnmark in winter wears another face, and one must turn south into the vast snow-blanketed plateau to find it. This is the land of the reindeer Lapps, an ancient, enig matic people who speak a tongue related to Finnish and-curiously-Hungarian. Among some 20,000 Norwegian Lapps, the majority have always lived along Finnmark's seacoast and rivers, fishing or farming. But a handful of nomadic Lapps still follow their reindeer herds on twice-yearly grazing migra tions (pages 34-37).* In February the reindeer Lapps center on Kautokeino, and in February Kautokeino is a Christmas card no one can bear to take down from the wall. Framed by your hotel window, a scattering of snow-roofed houses - painted red, or blue, or yellow-lies flung across a wide, white valley. In the motion less morning air, smoke stands like tufts of cotton tucked into the chimneys. And at this distance moving figures seem oddly, cheerily gnomelike. Step outdoors and inhale: An icy blade probes the lungs. It is 30 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. It can reach 50 below. Go down to the town and mingle with the Lapps as they bustle about Saturday morn ing's business. The impression of gnomes persists, for many are short and walk with a rolling gait. The men in traditional garb wear a handsome blue tunic-like jacket with red embroidered trim, reindeerskin boots turned up at the toes, and cylindrical hats streaming multicolored ribbons. A red-bonneted woman yanks the starter cord of a motor toboggan, and it snarls to life. A similar machine whizzes by, towing a sled built-who knows how long ago?-to be pulled by a reindeer. Five Lapps, resplendent in red and blue, pile out of a Volkswagen at the tiny post office to collect their mail. A wizened elder in reindeerskin leggings nods as he pushes past on a little kick-sled. "Hvor kan jeg finne rensdyr?-Where can I find reindeer?" you ask him. His Norwegian, too, is limited, but at last it is clear that the reindeer are foraging far afield. Sedately he kicks off on his sled, a *The life of these roving people is described by pho tographer George Mobley in the recent National Geo graphic Special Publication Vanishing Peoples of the Earth (available from the Society for $4.25 plus postage) and by Jean and Franc Shor in "North With Finland's Lapps," GEOGRAPHIC, August 1954.