Illustrations and words by Brian Grabell of Scout Collective
Grab your hammers and hiking boots and let’s get ready for an adventure… a quest if you will! This week we are taking a look at a tiny little place in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Faroe Islands. Don’t know much about them? Neither did I, but I am glad that I did some digital digging into this topic as these little islands have a lot going on.
From the sheep owning the countryside to the puffin penguins being the cutest thing ever, there are a lot of views to behold in this tiny, yet magical land. Er, islands. Take a read below as we skim the surface of a land and its people deep with meaning.
Author’s note: After researching these topics, the Faroe Islands are definitely on my list of places to visit. Skál!
The sheep have the run of the island here… no seriously, with no real predator these stumpy little creatures have very little flocking instinct. Because of this, these little buggers have the lush green pastures to themselves. It is believed that the Faeroe name itself means “sheep islands.” Ownership of the sheep is declared by making a series of simple cuts in the ears. There are 54 unique & approved cuts that can be used in a combination that is against the law to repeat. From the “Sheep Letter” of 1298: “But if he marks sheep which are already marked and puts his mark over that of the owner, he is a thief.”
Bird Watching (and protection)
If you’re looking to have a Big Year, I suggest making the trip to the Faroe Islands as it has been recorded to show around 300 different bird species have beensighted in the Faroe Islands. Over the centuries sea birds were a crucial part of the Faroese’s diet, but over the years that has become less so. Some types of birds are still hunted, but nowhere near the extent they were in the past. Conversely, bird conservation has become a mission of the Faroese. They are a part of the Ramsar Convention, which works to preserve & sustain wetlands and their inhabitants.
The Faroe Islands is a hiker’s dream as it is filled with breathtaking views wherever you look. Part of the reason for this is that there are (apparently) no trees to be found… and sadly, none to climb. However, as you trek across the beautiful landscape you will encounter some truly beautiful flora. Fun fact: Sólja, also known as buttercup or marigold, is the national flower. Another beautiful flower that has a special place in Scandanavian culture is called the Angelica Archangelica. It is considered to be both medicinal and flavorful, being added to food & beverages.
ODIN, ODIN, ODIN! Nordic culture has a rich mythology(a personal favorite of mine, thank you for asking) filled with many gods and creatures that are alive and well in our everyday culture in the U.S. thanks to Marveland authors like Neil Gaiman. Nordic values are something to behold and we could certainly take a page or two from their book. They believe in preserving the environment, creativity & innovation, openness, compassion & equality, and trust. That’s a pretty good list right there. The Nordic term is indirectly derived from the local Scandinavian term Norden, which means "The Northern lands.” Lately, pretty gross white supremacists have tried to co-opt a lot of Norse mythological imagery. Maybe it’s time we take it back.