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Neither here nor now, please

Faroe Islands sheep. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Click here for high resolution version.

I was on jury duty all of last week. It was educational, but it also was suffocating. There were more than a hundred people in the jury pool, and sometimes we were obliged to sit in a too-small holding room for more than two hours at a time, waiting to be called into the courtroom when it was time to pick a jury. By the time the judge dismissed the jury pool on Friday, I was burned out.

The more I’m involuntarily exposed to what the French call trop de monde — too much world, or, too many people — the more I try to compensate with some form of escape. Friday evening I was bored with the bleak last episode of “Masters of the Air,” so I found one of those relaxation videos on YouTube and played it on the (pretty big) television screen. It was seascapes in the Faroe Islands, beautifully shot from drones, good medicine for a jury duty hangover:

I can’t imagine landscapes more thrilling than places where steep mountains come up against the sea. There is some of this in California. But some of the best of such landscapes on the planet, and the most accessible to travelers, are to be found in Ireland and Scotland. I’ve been to the west coast of Ireland, and to some of the Scottish Islands including the Outer Hebrides. Now I’m trying to figure out how, and when, I might be able to work in a trip to the Faroe Islands someday.

The Faroe Islands are a Danish territory, more or less midway between northern Scotland and Iceland. In reading an overview of the islands’ history on Wikipedia, one of the things that surprised me was just how quickly the church reached a place so remote and so far from Rome. According to Wikipedia, that was in the late 10th or early 11th centuries. Unsurprisingly, it was conquerers who brought the church to the islands, offering “salvation” while seizing the land. As remote as the islands are, the population today is surprisingly great — more than 50,000 people.

I also learned on Wikipedia that there is a remarkably rich literary history in the islands’ language, Faroese. Some Googling led to a Faroese writer named Heðin Brú, who died in 1987. One of his novels, in an English translation, was published in 1970 as The Old Man and His Sons. The novel was first published in Faroese in 1940. I found a copy of the 1970 translation on eBay and have ordered it.

Given how quickly the world is getting warmer, if I were young and born south of, say, the 40th parallel, I think I would try to figure out how to migrate farther north. Nothing much happens in Canada. But I suspect that Scotland, and the Nordic and Baltic countries, have a bright future, as long as Putin and whoever succeeds him can be contained.

⬆︎ eBay photo

⬆︎ Google Books


  1. Chenda wrote:

    The Faroe islands look incredible, I shall have to visit someday. The Orkney and Shetland islands also look interesting. My grandfather visited the Shetland islands as a young man back in the 1930s. He often spoke about the trip. There’s a lot of interesting prehistoric monuments there. By the way David, I bought on impulse an interesting book called The Heart of the Forest by John Miller. I think you might enjoy it.

    Monday, March 18, 2024 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda: I’ve also got the Shetlands on my radar screen. I especially like that the Shetlands can be reached by ferry. It appears that the only ferry to the Faroes is out of northern Denmark. Also, in Caithness, they’re starting a project to build a broch, though I think it’s still in the fundraising stage. Thanks for the book recommendation!

    Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  3. Amela wrote:

    I was also in jury duty last week and got selected to be in a trial. We couldn’t come to a unanimous agreement but I am trying to help the prosecution prepare better for the next court date. I do agree it was educational and exhausting. I did meet some interesting folks for the days we sat in our little room with no windows when not in courtroom.

    Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

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