Sunday, March 23, 2014


There was a home game in front of the same fans that support the local team Mekkar was a defenseman of. The opponent that night was the mighty and experienced USSR National hockey squad. Yes, that one that had been victorious against international teams from all around the globe. It was also the same group that had a high winning percentage versus professional teams from top leagues everywhere. The Soviets delivering the goods on a consistent basis in international tournaments too! Many considered Mekkar’s opponents on this night as the best squad in the world, including the National Hockey League.

At first, Mekkar thought it was a prank setup by some of his teammates and didn’t believe it. Soon enough, he found out the game was on and the true foe was confirmed. The teen from the Arctic made a crack to a media acquaintance of his, “Maybe we are just a warm up until their next match versus a top notch adversary.” The Stars team Mekkar was playing for during this time was young in comparison. A scant number of members on his squad had not even participated in any matches outside of the country yet. However, the home side was still a quality minor league equivalent professional team with a winning record.

Mekkar was still not awed by the Soviets as many in the building and most of his team were. He had encountered wild animals in their habitat, so to him no person could ever intimidate him. Even though Mekkar was quite aware that his team was greatly overmatched, he always strived for victory each time. Still, it would take a massive effort for his club to defeat their rival on this evening. Mekkar expected a monumental upset to occur.

When the game began the Russians jumped on the Stars early and often. It was quickly become a rout. At least, Mekkar salvaged a little local pride by scoring the only two goals for his team during the first two periods. One of the defenseman, on Mekkar’s side, had previously faced off against powerful squads in the Soviet Union and had experienced this same result. Mekkar was not amused and by the third period, he turned physically vicious and continued to hit everyone on the other side. He crossed the line himself in regard to the rule book, but it didn’t matter to him at this point. He told a friend afterward, “I was returning the favor for the nasty stickwork and uncalled cheap shots that were not penalized. You know me; I will not tolerate that under any circumstances.”   

The Stars coaching staff was not happy with the team’s on-ice performance because the Soviets crushed them 10-2. They also told Mekkar flatly, “It is not your job to pot goals and be that deep into the offensive zone. That is, so close to the opposition net. Your main task is to prevent scoring by the other squad against us. Look at the scoreboard, they tallied ten.” Mekkar snapped back, “Those guys did not score any goals versus our team while I was on the ice. I was a plus two in the plus/minus rating for the match. Exactly, what is the problem?” This response by the insolent youngster infuriated the team coaches and administrators that were present and embarrassed. They were indignant with Mekkar’s remarks considering the fact the Stars simply got their rear ends whipped.

Team management responded forcefully before Mekkar left the bench area by telling him that he was suspended a game for each goal he had scored that evening. Thus, the suspension was for the duration of two matches that he would miss as a result. Mekkar was ticked off after hearing these words and shouted at the club officials. Anyone who was close enough could hear his response of, “Screw You!” He proceeded to the dressing room and rapidly changed out of his gear. Next, the young hothead avoided everyone, including any reporters, and left the arena in a foul mood.

Mekkar interpreted the situation and overreaction by the club as being extremely unreasonable. The Arctic Warrior felt that he had performed very well against a high quality opponent for the first part of the match. He also saw his ferocity in the last portion as a type of exhibition in civic pride. Mekkar refused to return to represent that Stars team in any more games remaining on their schedule for that particular campaign. He stated that he might consider coming back, in the future, if those in charge and the coaching staff were replaced. Therefore, Mekkar went back to play for his regular regional squad. He felt they better appreciated for his all around contributions while continuing to pile up victories because Mekkar loved winning more than anything else.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; Then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are.]

For the next week or so it is very warm here for this area. No one living here was used to this, Mekkar recalled. Over the eighty degrees Fahrenheit (26.66° Celsius) was considered hot. This was not normal for this time of the year or this long of a time period. The effects are very noticeable around this area and people get ill if it gets too hot, especially if it stays that way. Mekkar was also affected by these heat issues. His symptoms included not feeling in top peak form and being constantly nauseated. This heat wave seemed to last about a whole week straight. There were no clouds to be seen nor was it overcast in any way.

There are some benefits from uninterrupted heat emanating from the sun that melts the snow and does provide some relief from battles against winter storms. However, that is usually short lived. Mekkar would rather be cold where one can dress for it versus being too warm. His thinking is that he could take off all of his clothing and still feel roasting hot like in an oven. He doesn’t think of himself as food to be cooked! Since they were stopped at this point near cover and shade to protect them from the abnormal warmer weather, Mekkar had time to think. He must combat his boredom of just waiting around for the weather to improve. Plus, provide distractions for himself to alleviate his uncomfortableness.

He began to remember the nearby bridge his group had recently passed. Usually, in the early summer those crossings and bridges are above you as you pass. This time, he could only see the girders or the top part of the foundation due to massive accumulated snow of the previous winter. The unexpected and vast differences are regular features one has to face in the Arctic, Mekkar noted.

One advantage reindeer have is in their feet because they have much better traction than people. Sometimes Mekkar wished he was like them in their environmentally adaptation. Especially, when the animals would slip and slide a lot less on the ice and snow than him.  The great benefits in speed also fascinated the boy. He fancied having those advantages and having a greater weight for better movement and mobility. But, Mekkar was resigned to the fact that it all comes down to controlling the factors you are able.

At one of the nighttime stops, they unpacked and prepared for a much needed rest period. The teepee was set up with the inner frame as the key. A set of curved ones are used inside to reinforce the teepee and improve its sturdiness against potential winds and storms. A second set of straight outer poles are placed at an angle while meeting at the top. Those outer poles, over the curved ones, that form the teepee shape never seem to exactly be perfect in size and length. Nevertheless, the idea is to use what is available and modify as needed. One would be wise to leave an opening, in the middle of the tent, at the top; otherwise you could get completely smoked out from the fire that usually kept a pot of coffee or some other warm concoction.

Mekkar believed the best materials were used to assemble the more secure sauna tent. To him it was rarely, if ever, empty. It seemed as though there was activity in the hot box all the time. Mekkar needed to go in there himself too. That is, to increase his ability to adapt to the most recent hot spell from above or anytime there were higher temperatures outside. The arctic boy thought that the sauna was also a great place to unwind, absorb, and soak it all in. Some of the head trekkers of the party would use it to plan and discuss matters regarding the trek. Inside they would drink, talk about general subjects, or share old stories in the oral tradition. Mekkar would shut up and listen to those who would reminisce regarding their past personal experiences and many encounters.

The veterans of the treks would also use this area to help them coordinate, adapt, consider various matters, and plan the rest of the journey. Mekkar would at times ponder, think, and come up with some wild ideas while overhearing the adults in the sauna. As a kid he itched to mention some of his thoughts to the trek leaders. However, Mekkar never did voice them out loud and let the leaders do their job without interference from an inexperienced boy.

Quite a few of these trekkers had been over this terrain before, but Mekkar had not. It was all new to him at this point. They knew that they were on solid ground in some areas and avoided the potentially sketchy spots below them. These imbalances and shifts on the surface could happen during any season in many types of scenarios. Mekkar didn’t consider those factors at all. It was chalked up as a matter of his inexperience, but there is only one way to truly learn …

Mekkar though of speaking to Aslak the shaman to possibly spur him to take action. He wanted Aslak to reach into his bag of special powers and modify the weather. Mekkar was thinking that it would help the group and animals on the trek. The boy was convinced that providing the most suitable environment for this time of the year would be the most beneficial for all. The shaman was already at work with the others without Mekkar being aware of it. Aslak was making use of his drum, tools, chanting mechanisms, and related symbols that he had at his disposal for this task. Mekkar recognized that Aslak had started his specialized ritual. It went on for quite awhile. Yet, the boy did not understand right then what the outcome might be. Even though he saw it, Mekkar originally thought that he might have been dreaming about the ritual activity occurring around him. Soon enough he fell into a daze and then asleep near the warm fire for a few hours. This was in contrast to the cool night air outside. The next day after the ritual, it seemed to Mekkar that his earlier concerns were not important anymore.   

Anyway, the trek continued and weather was much better. It was sort of overcast in the sky. Not too cold or too warm. The temperature was about 7° Celsius (44.6° Fahrenheit). Mekkar reveled in it and thought it was nice, perfect weather. Maybe too good which, in turn, could make them somewhat lax executing their duties? It was now time for a small roundup to take sampling of the whole herd. The reasoning behind it was to separate some animals out that might have issues, etc. Mekkar helped check the reindeer to ward any potential dilemmas before they might arise. The boy even participated in some new functions which increased his confidence a bit.

The trekking party was now ready to send out a forward scouting patrol. They were supposed to check for any recent changes and differences in terrain, fresh tracks of unwelcome predators, and that type of thing. They might go out far ahead of the main group beyond their sight to fulfill their mission. The scouts still must travel that same distance all the way back to meet up with the others again. Antti chose a young Mekkar to be with him in that forward two-person patrol. The wise Antti specifically selected Mekkar to expose him to new activity and further his learning curve. They both would stay in close proximity to each other and be very observant, as well as alert at all times. The object was to seek out any likely hazards, promising advantages, extra sources of food supplies, and many other factors.

Antti and Mekkar headed out much earlier than the rest of the group and were a good distance ahead. They occasionally climbed small hills and reached elevated locations to get a better view. Some of the places had melted snow that saturated the ground to make it wet and a mess. Sometimes the ground had been turned to mud and even the recent heat wave didn’t completely dry out the earth. Once in awhile as Mekkar climbed around he would slip. The difference was that most of the trekkers had better footwear for this type of journey. Their hiking boots were constructed with a combination of leather, deer hide, and rubber. They were ideally suited for this environment. On the other hand, the inexperienced Mekkar wore more modern shoes. Despite his reference to his footwear as boots, they were better adapted for moseying around the village playing with his friends. In his stubbornness Mekkar failed to listen to his parents and chose his footwear for his personal comfort instead of function. He was now regretting that decision of ignorance.

In one place ahead of the others, they reached the top of hill and saw a town off into the distance. Mekkar’s spirits were raised even if he hid this outwardly. Mekkar thought to himself that it was a good thing that he had brought some personal funds as to remedy his previous mistaken footwear choice. This was his first trek without any member of his immediate family along with him. Of course, there were the elders on trek with little Mekkar and they were all watching over him. Whether he realized or not, his life was in their hands, but he still needed to learn some lessons on the trek.

Mekkar had no idea who resided in that town ahead of them. He questioned whether these were strangers or not. Would the people have an idea of who he was? He could guess, but would it do any good? He resolved this by realizing that the trek leaders knew the territory and probably knew the people they would encounter along the way. Since, it wasn’t their first journey of this kind. Determining what type of people in the far off town was not his primary job. His main tasks were to keep his eyes open and stay alert to protect the reindeer. When he was not in a role as a scout, some of his functions included bringing back any stragglers and help those animals in the rear catch up with the rest of the herd. Each trekker, even Mekkar, had to be resourceful and multifunctional with their actions in mind. The main consideration was whatever is needed at that time to make everything move more efficiently. It was time to go back and join the rest of those from the tribe on the trek. Fortunately for him, the herd and crew had been moving toward their advanced position so the distance was closed somewhat. Mekkar was glad and relieved when he and Antti made it back to join the others. Antti is a seasoned individual at this. He has been doing it for at least fifty years and considered to have more experience than any other person in the trekking party.

The scouts gave their observations to the chief of this trip. Ansetti, the chief, took those factors in his overall account regarding this journey. Ansetti was chosen as the lead because Antti didn’t want the job. Antti hated the politics and other aspects of leadership. He preferred to take a more physically active role. Antti actually recommended Ansetti for the position and his judgment had great sway in the younger man’s selection as the head of this trek. Ansetti wasn’t bothered about any possible extremely bad situations ahead. His mighty experience told him that, at most, they might hit minimal snags in the road. He had a plan and, along with the other leaders, was sticking to it. Since it was working just fine, why change? Mekkar saw that Ansetti beamed fully confident in what he was doing. Mekkar thought there was something of substance behind that assured expression and was ready to follow along, with his fellow trekkers, in support of their leader.

One time during one of the gatherings, Mekkar was advised by an elder to consider a certain observation that was widely believed in his culture. The assertion that ninety five percent of a person’s personality was created by the time they are five years old. According to methodology, that means that only five percent is left and no real total change will ever happen to anyone after that age. Mekkar did not grasp much of that statement at the time. He felt it might make more sense to him when he got older, so he brushed aside the concept for now. As a result of hearing and learning from, what he saw as the older and wiser people in his tribe, aspects of Mekkar’s character developed rapidly during this time. It cultivated a suspicious element that revealed itself, later on, as part of his personality. Obvious to all around him the tenet became: when in doubt, be suspicious and question everything. Definitely what you think you might accept as fact. Isn’t that the underlying basis and true value of experience and education? Mekkar also learned the notion that if there are any positives in your life then, by all means, accept it. It might just be a rare bonus. Plus, life itself can be hard enough as testified by the stories he listened to in the sauna tent.

Maybe that was just a part of the cultural environment Mekkar grew up in. In reality, it can be different from the normally accepted native thought processes. Many attributed it to the boy’s exposure to various situations. It was speculated that he might have seen too much at his tender age. Much more in other environments outside his home base than some kids around him and this could have partially warped his thinking in some respects. Mekkar was of the opinion, but didn’t say it out loud out of respect for the adults, that his variety of experiences had opened his eyes a bit. He felt that even if was less experienced in reindeer herding and trekking, he was already ahead in some other areas of life, despite his youth. Mekkar got the impression that Ansetti and some of the others had never left this region and visited other places. He was unknowingly mistaken in his assumption. Some of the leaders in the trek unit had been to the capital city and to other large cities far away.

Mekkar was aware that the government seat of the nation was not the center of the world. He had already read about the Middle Ages and understood that the darkest time periods of the past were long gone. Whether they admitted it or not, the natives were well informed of the activity occurring in the big cities closest to them. Internal conflicts arise within each native person as they are torn between their tribal upbringing and the modern world around them. Their very existence also includes non-natives and the dominant cosmopolitan lifestyles which can cause problems. Bad decisions and inconsiderate laws contrary to native survival affect them too! Unfortunately, it is seen as outsiders don’t care about the consequences and possible negative outcomes pertaining to them.  

Anyway, the scouts reached the group, while the crew made up for lost time by avoiding a very muddy and hilly area. It took about an extra day to bypass those sections down in that valley. The fortunate thing was the more accessible food and berry bushes along this alternative path. Footing was better and there also was a plentiful supply of fresh water for the animals. The stream here had parts that were still running where the ice did not build up to a great amount and freeze down too deep. Powdered snow and the shallower ice would melt away fairly quickly when the weather got warmer and flow into the stream. It helped at this point that the trekkers had not encountered any irregular pattern of weather for about a week and a half straight. Usually the region as a whole had extreme climate fluctuations during this time of the year. Reliable was just fine by Mekkar as long as it is not hot. Others agreed that some consistency made the journey easier. Trouble was, this trend also made all of them just a tad complacent.

The youngster was mindful that circumstances could change at any moment. Weather patterns in that area were very peculiar in their consistency. If it was going to be sunny that particular day it usually blessed the inhabitants with sunshine all day. It was not standard to have ten minutes of good weather and then sudden change to a completely different situation. That rapid switch was almost never the case like in many other parts of the world. An example of this would be the short, powerful, massive monsoon rain bursts from the clouds in the Southern Hemisphere. Suddenly, the rain would cease but not the flood waters overwhelming the limited infrastructure apparatus. Short ice and hail storms emerge and disappear in this manner as well.

Mekkar, like many in his tribe, preferred consistent benchmarks the group could plan for and hopefully rely upon most of the time. Looking skyward could give away indicators of the opposite situation when a lot of or a little snow would be falling earthward. Any amateur meteorologist could tell when the weather was going to be nasty and warn of a blizzard. It was obvious and easy to predict. Mekkar falsely began to believe he had an additional inherent ability to be able to read the weather. Imaging himself as similar to other special individuals, like Houdini, he had learned about. After this point when Mekkar made a determination, he was normally unwavering and decisive with little doubt in his mind. Only in a rare instance would he change his mind. Some that know him well refer to it as stubbornness.

Being able to count on something for the rest of the day always seemed to reassure Mekkar. The sky, right now, was like a good friend to him in his mind. One present factor regarded by him as unchanging in normally extreme irregular surroundings. In the Arctic inhospitable conditions are usually the rule. Even though he had trouble naming the various types of clouds, Mekkar saw patterns develop. This deciphering talent got better as he got older. He would claim to notice future trends based on past history in almost every area of his life. In some things, these theories have been proven right on the money and in other areas not so much. Of course, the boy had absorbed much of the comparable thinking from his fellow tribal members whether he realized it or not. Mekkar liked regularity, some routine, and predictability in quite a few areas of his life. He felt that it is easier to manage and count on. Chaos, all of the time, to him is stressful and wells up in anger from within him.           

Usually that was the case, but not this time. This instance would be the exception. What struck Mekkar as odd is that as they went on a different path to reach the town. You know the one that Antti and Mekkar saw earlier on their scouting venture. As the trekkers got closer and closer to that hamlet, they were at the same time moving away from the originally chosen route. Mekkar looked ahead and thought he perhaps saw a mirage. He thought that maybe his mind was exhausted at this point and it was playing tricks on him. One of the others on the journey pointed out the metal like items strewn over the ground. He accepted that he was not deceived and was blown away by what he saw. He said, “Hey, what is going on here?” This was the first time Mekkar he had been truly exposed by noticing these things. Since this was not his home area, his understanding was lacking, to say the least, regarding these damaged objects. He was unable to identify what he saw and had to ask one of the adults nearby.

Yes, Mekkar heard his mama complain back home about the fact that he would echo modern equipment sounds. All the local kids now did it. She would compare it to the audible noises she would imitate when she was a young girl. Sirga told her son that she used to copy the noises of various animals instead like the reindeer. She criticized the younger generations for not doing the same like in times past. She commented to him many times, “There is something wrong here. You are evolutionizing, but in a way, you are also losing the old (native) way.”

Anyway, Mekkar saw one of these flying machines and the items were all scattered about. Everyone in the trekking party saw it. Some tried to pretend not to and turned their gaze away while continuing on. But, Mekkar’s curiosity was amazed and his attention was grabbed. He struggled to recall the times when his papa would speak to him about different flying objects. Henrik spoke from his experience as a jet pilot and could fly many different types of equipment. The young boy examined the objects more as he got closer. He made the assumption the wreckage was not from any tool used for reindeer herding.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


When Mekkar was younger he inquired to his mama concerning the noon meal time. Sirga replied sharply, “You know where the river is. If you want your lunch, get yourself down to the river and catch it or you don’t eat. You know that the food made in the restaurant is for the tourists, not for you. Unless, you are working serving the visitors. The main reason is because you boys would eat all the profits!”

So early on, Mekkar and Lasse would walk down to the riverbank, near the old stone bridge. Here the river was not as wide or the water as deep. The boys had to first prepare and setup the spot to be able to catch fish. This is key, if they wanted to incur success. It began with the boys wading out in the water away from the riverbank where the flow was slightly calmer. Rocks and stones that lay along the bottom of the river would be arranged by them to force the fish to travel closer near the edge. That is, if the fish planned on continuing downstream to the sea. The goal was to make it easier for the youngsters to snag a meal to quench their hunger.

Many rivers in the far north area flow northward to the ocean, if there is an outlet in that direction. Those rivers are mainly fed and supplied by water sources that come from runoff of the nearby hills and low lying mountains. Thus, the water quality in these waters’ is normally very good. Mekkar says that is fairly clean water. He is picky about that and expresses this often if his standard is not met. To him it was good enough to cup his hands together and scoop up the water to drink it right there.

On the first trip the boys constructed a permanent riverbank fire pit base with stones, rocks, and other items they had gathered from the surrounding area. Lasse’s papa had forged a metal grill rack that fit perfectly to cook on, so that became part of their pit also. Thus, taking a couple of fishing spears, matches, small branches and twigs plus other easily retrievable supplies with them was all they would need each time they arrived.

Mekkar and Lasse would alternate, at different times, their turn to catch the fish in the shallow part of the river’s edge they previously setup. On some occasions, some of their buddies and young relatives around their same age range would join them for these escapades. The knee high waterproof boots of the fish retriever would make a sloshing sound with each step after journeying into the water. Whoever was doing the fishing would have a spear with a pointed tip at the ready to bring the hammer down and impale the fish.

Mekkar liked to raise the fish out of the water, in triumph, while the impaled prey was still wiggling on the hook. There was no use of fishing poles for this task. If the fish was too small, they would get upset that they had wasted their time. The reaction was a yank of the fish from the hook and a toss back into the flowing water as a sign of disgust. Mekkar responded frequently, “Let’s get a real sized fish!” Mekkar was the worst in his outward dislike in this regard as he expected to get what he wanted on the first attempt, every time.

When the boys would collect one to their satisfaction, the next step was a release from the sharp point and clasp. After that was a smack of the fish’s head against one of the rocks and cutting off the head and tail. They didn’t bother eating the ends. Next, would be to fillet it with a slice down the middle and opening the fish to remove the spine and larger bones. Mekkar, Lasse, and the others that came down to the river didn’t worry about eating the smaller fish bones. The fire cooking process would soften those to keep from becoming an issue. Later on the boys, along with Alf when he grew older, would bring an assortment of condiments and toppings with them. Other selections were also added such as a few side dishes, accessories, and other items to enjoy the crooked fish.

This routine became a regular mid day activity for a long time. Even when Mekkar and his buddies would come back to visit after moving away from the village. There was one instance in particular when Lasse was older that stood out. It was after the boys had started off by drinking some alcohol. As he went to go catch a fish in the water, Lasse stepped forward with the wrong foot in front of him. Mekkar’s best friend then thrust the spear in his hand in a downward motion to get the fish. However, he impaled something else, his own foot, from the top piercing through the middle of his limb. Lasse had to jerk hard to dislodge the spear’s point from the dirt of the riverbank underneath. The problem was the spear went through his foot and the boot straight into the ground when he thrust it.

His brow was furled as Lasse ripped the end of the spear from his foot and limped away from the river. Not to forget, he was a hockey player and as a result he was tough. Mekkar, Alf, and a couple others there were howling with laughter over this situation and even had the nerve to tease Lasse about it. They spewed out comments such as “Look at big, tough, mighty Lasse now. He speared himself to the riverbank!” Mekkar led the gang by giving Lasse the business regarding the incident. Even though Lasse was now bleeding from the hole in his foot, he didn’t seem too hurt about it. Perhaps, he just didn’t want to show his suffering in front of his friends. Lasse was more bothered by the teasing of his peers and increasingly became more ticked off at them. Lasse’s wrath grew at this treatment and subsequently he wanted to rumble. Mekkar would be first up.

Monday, March 3, 2014


According to the native practice of relating stories through oral tradition, his grandmamma told the boy, along with some his friends, the story of his entrance into the world. She believed in the honored tradition of passing on these sagas in this manner. Plus, Mekkar’s grandmama loved the attention of anyone who would listen to her speak. Having an audience made her feel respected or at least she believed that it did. That is how her grandson perceived it.

Mekkar leaned over to his best friend sitting there and whispered, “If any baby pictures of me are displayed to my friends, then I am out of here as soon as possible. I do not need to see my bare bottom, neither do my friends.”

The birth of Mekkar: Now the story begins...

There was darkness along the horizon, except for the thick blanket of snow that provided the only light. The quietness was ever present throughout the area. All one could hear were the sounds of hooves and boots penetrating the white powder. Fortunately, for the first time in days no blizzard had come to pass to affect the journey. It was decided that this was a good time to set up camp.

Camp set-up began amongst the clicking sounds of boots and hooves in frenzied activity. Adults, as well as children maneuvered materials, food, and animals into position. Tepee poles were raised, first the curved ones for the inner base. Next, the straight ones were placed to rise above the base. After that specifically cut layers of reindeer skins were wrapped around the tepee frame.

In its finished form an opening was formed at the top of the tepee. This was to provide an outlet for the smoke created from the fire inside. A tepee was set up for each family. Some could “house” up to 10 people. A heavier structure ordinarily made of small logs or large formed wood pieces, along with other materials, would be used for the sauna tent. Camp was usually set up in an area where there had been one before, similar to times long past. A previously constructed, permanent structure built into the side of a hill might also be nearby. Many times those shelters could be quickly modified and used for the relaxing hot room instead.

The camp itself was normally arranged in a type of semicircle with a centralized common area, but the layout could be altered according to the surroundings. Normally, there are only a couple of options for establishing a camp site, either a circular placement or a relatively straight line. The settlement formation was chosen after thoughtful analysis by the tribe's leaders and based on historical tradition. Final selection is determined by various features of the surrounding landscape.

Some of these chosen locations and places include access to readily available water and food sources, ground levelness, and mobility ease for continued transport. Basically, how easy is it to get to and later on back out on the trek? It was a very efficient process that took place and the whole camp setup was usually completed in only a couple of hours. This stop was just a short rest for the trekkers to replenish themselves as they were behind schedule. The trek leaders felt it was a good way to get back on the path as soon as possible to catch up according to their original plan. When mid-evening appeared the group gathered everything, packed it all up quickly and began to set off again through the darkness of night.

Early the next morning the group was still on the move. The movement of gear and animals, as well as, muted voices of a few individuals were the only sounds in the darkness. Soon, it was overcome by the now labored breathing and noise stemming from one source, one young woman. That woman was Sirga, six months pregnant with child. Unexpectedly, it was evident that she was about to deliver her child right there. It wasn’t going to wait for the full span of time as planned. Plus, there were still many miles to reach the nearest modern hospital facility. There was the realization that this risky premature birth would take place in an unscheduled manner and according to the old way.

Forward movement of all in the group, as well as the animals stopped and was now in hesitation mode with the tents still packed up. It seemed that the whole tribe was going to take a brief rest after all whether they liked it or not. Most other activity for the most part ceased altogether. Specifically, the children were not as loud and animated within their game movement as normal. Many adults, especially the older ones, were standing or sitting around discussing the current state of affairs over cups of fresh hot coffee or other drinks. There was anticipation in the air. At the same time, some commotion was stirring, as a few individuals hastily scrambled to gather some needed items for the event to commence!

After a small mound of snow was gathered and evened out, it was covered with some of the finest tanned reindeer skins that were usually made for trade or for sale. The smoothed-out area was quickly constructed and setup. The young Sirga was placed by a couple of the attendants on the makeshift snow bed, since none of the tents had been set up yet. She was told to lie down and encouraged to relax, as much as possible. While others in the tribe attempted to make her as comfortable as they could.

Even though the birthing was very premature and the child quite small, there was still suffering experienced by Sirga. This was noticed by some of the other women who had previously given birth themselves. They could relate to the situation by listening and understood the difficulties of a woman going through her first such milestone.

The event had taken longer than expected. Finally, the newborn child had arrived and took his first breath, while the sun was still approaching along the horizon. The background consisted of a light snow fall, surrounded by a couple of reindeer, and a few important members of the tribe. Those individuals that were present for the event included the shaman, the chief's wife, the husband, and some additional midwives.

Sirga was now considered a real woman since she had now ascended into motherhood. She was very exhausted, proud, and even seemed to radiate. Henrik, the father of the child, suggested that Sirga looked even younger at that particular moment than her age would indicate. However, even before this event many people incorrectly guessed Sirga's age because she had always looked much younger than she really was.

Many in the tribe described Sirga as a beautiful young woman. She possessed a medium round face with high cheekbones, deep set light bluish-gray eyes, dark brown hair, and a warm smile that transported others in her presence. In addition, she exhibited smooth, flush skin with not a wrinkle in sight. On top of that, Sirga possessed a tall, medium to slender figure. However, it was not considered to be one fashioned for motherhood or so it was thought. Those features, mainly owing to family genetics dictated why the young woman appeared much more youthful than her true age. This would always be the case throughout her whole life.

The new parents then and there conferred upon the little one the name of Mekkar that was alluded to the previous October. A cultural custom was every day of the year has a few specific common names assigned to that particular day. In this instance the name was chosen on that specific day before the birth took place. Some parents also choose one of those names for their newborn that are listed among the choices on the specific day of the calendar the child is actually born. The practice is a borrowed one from the dominant culture that enveloped the whole area.

But, the name Mekkar was only a small part of the boy's full name. His name encompassed many names handed down through the family lineage. One part of the little child's namesake was taken after the person who helped in the delivery; that occurred on the tundra in the Arctic mist. It was the tribe's medicine man, spiritual leader and shaman all rolled into one person, Aslak Mekkar. Thereafter, the child would always just be referred to as Mekkar from then on to make it easier for everyone to identify him.

In typical native fashion, only a few hours after the birthing process, Sirga gathered herself, as well as, her personal items. She and Mekkar continued on the trek with the rest of the tribe, animals, and belongings.

A few days later, the story of this event was retold during the sauna tent storytelling session. It was ironic that no one could pinpoint the exact spot where the birthing event took place, just the general area. Now, this might have been solved if the whole tribe backtracked along the same route just taken. That is, by following the footprints and other indicators they left behind. Yet, this action was not going to happen due to lack of extra time and other physical constraints. Nevertheless, it was predetermined that there was a schedule to keep and the trek to their destination couldn't be interrupted. The tribe didn't want to overburden the resources provided by the land in that specific location. So, sustained movement at this time was necessary for the continued existence of this Arctic tribe on the journey.

Anyhow, the skins that were laid out for the birthing episode were left behind in that spot. Either the hides were forgotten in the rush of activity or left behind because of the blood and placenta matter remaining on them. The usual practice was to bury the furs in the snow or store them in a hard to access place, but there was little time for that. By the time dusk arrived scavenger wolves had approached the now deserted location. As the animals noticed the birth contents on the skins they began to feast on the blood matter. After the lead male wolf had devoured some of the left behind remnants, he started to have convulsions and howled uncontrollably. The wolf pack shouts emanating from the spot could be heard from a great distance throughout the valley.

By the time the journey had reached a sizeable city that had modern practitioners of medicine, the newborn child Mekkar had lapsed into a coma. It was learned that Mekkar was much too small, due to being so premature. The doctors wondered how the young one could endure a continued non traditional existence. His mama brushed aside these cautions and boldly replied that Mekkar would be a fighter and a survivor. She flatly stated that Mekkar would not lose this battle for his life. Not now, not here.

Mekkar had to be taken further away where increased medical attention could be given to him. Arrangements for transport to a city in this region were made. However, it was not a large metropolis but a town with a few thousand inhabitants. For this territory in the middle of the Arctic that is considered a big town. Trouble was, the city put his group on a modified route that ventured the tribe far off the regular path. So Mekkar’s mama and papa had to stay with the little one as the tribe went on without them.

Well, Mekkar did awake from his stillness and the future showed that Sirga was right after all. She couldn't have been more accurate in proving the doctors predictions wrong. It was determined that the baby would be separated out at this point. That is, until his growth could be accelerated enough for him to catch up with other babies in the normal stages of infant development.

He surprisingly surpassed other children throughout his early years and eventually grew in stature. This occurred despite many who continued to predict that Mekkar wouldn't survive very long in the harsh Arctic environment. A few of these forecasters had the nerve to persist in speaking this way to Sirga too, but she would hear none of it.