The whistle blower

Through the soles of my feet I feel the weight of the ore they’ve ripped from the soil. The heavy wheels tell me stories of machinery and guns, of steel and wealth created elsewhere.

Once this was our land; our herds could roam the land without restriction. Now every time I hear the train blow its whistle I travel with a heavy heart to the place where yet some of our animals are maimed by heavy wheels. I can only offer them the mercy of death. Reindeer have always walked these paths, and they don’t know the schedules of trains.

I couldn’t miss another week of Friday Fictioneers so today I’m entering later than I have been in a long time. The story is based on my vacation up north and a long talk I had with a woman of Sami origin. The train up in northernmost Sweden was built to transport Iron-ore from the mines in Kiruna to the harbor in Narvik (Norway), and every day there are many trains going west with yet more ore. The land it runs on has been the grazing land for reindeer for many many years. As reindeer in Sweden are kept as cattle, their paths cross the ways of the animals and many are killed or maimed.

Friday Fictioneers is a blogging community of bloggers from all around the world. The challenge is to write a 100 word story to the same picture. The community is run by railroad engineer Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and usually attract excellent stories.

April 11, 2015

37 responses to “The whistle blower

  1. Rails ride roughshod over many lives. Even the village where my husband grew up in Kent, England, was destroyed to make way for the Channel Tunnel link.
    ps – I am glad you made it to FF – I’ve been looking for you!

  2. Sadly, with the advancement of technology and civilisation, it is nature that suffers the brunt.
    A great story, and well written too.

  3. Those poor reindeer. I like that your story is based on your travels. How interesting to have heard this information from the woman of Sami origin.

  4. I’ve been reading quite a bit about the Sami lately, Bjorn, so your story really hit home for me. Glad I stopped by today, I was missing your excellent 100 words.

  5. Very heart rending and well written. The almost terse style gives much weight to these words and the telling of the maiming of the reindeer. Sad that progress creates such victims.

  6. when human involvement causes disruption to mother nature, always a sad plight. wonderful writing…as always.

  7. Very well written, Bjorn. I remember learning about iron ore in the Kiruna area many yeras ago in geography lessons. I suppose the railroad was a natural extension of the industry. It’s always the local culture, wildlife and natural environment that suffer in these cases. As other commenters have said: all in the name of progress. So sad about the plight of many reindeer.

  8. The price we have to pay in the name of progress. With sadness and heavy heart I go through this very well written 100 words piece.

  9. The mercy of death – that line caught me ~ I am sad for the animals who don’t know the schedule of the trains ~ Moving story Bjorn ~

  10. you’ve captured the emotions of the landscape here… i’ve been reading, to my grand daughter, the diary of a girl as the railroad was built across the states… so much blood, sweet and tears… and that’s only the people… the land would never be the same.

  11. Hi Bjorn,

    Your story reminds me of a documentary we recent saw about wolves in Yellowstone National Park who would not cross any roads. The wolves had learn that man-made roads were dangerous. I think this phenomenal is very rare in deed.

    By the way, great story you wrote. I always enjoy reading yours.


  12. As I read your piece as I was thinking about buffalo on the American prairie. And the ironic thing is, they refer to such acts as “taming the wilderness.”

  13. Very true and sad story. I spent a month in Finland last year and heard about huge mining operations up north of the circle; Samis (?) and animals don’t stand a chance. Keep blowing that whistle!

  14. Welcome back, Björn! I’m fascinated by the Sami and this story really echoes the culture and realities of modern change– so similar to the plight of the First Nations of the great plains, here. Sad stories, all around… but beautifully told.

  15. Has such a Steinbeck feel to it. When I first saw the photo, it reminded me of clandestine meetings…illicit kisses between stops. Your take is so much more visual. The animals…heart wincing.

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