As the snowcat bucked and rocked and snarled along the trail the Viking Grandson sat on a bench behind the cab and listened to the story of the American Harald Fine-Hair, a classic tale it seemed, of a boy who was a product of almost everything that the last chaotic decade had meant to U.S. youth. "Man, I had convertibles, sailboats, lots of bread, all the broads I wanted. When I got into college, I took the motherin' business-administration trip—bread was my thing. But then, after a couple of years, man, I didn't dig it anymore. It just didn't make sense, so I dropped out." He was a member of the first really celebrated hippie commune, the Morning Star settlement in northern California—until it was ruined in the wake of blazing publicity. Then he bummed around the nation, an early-day Easy Rider, and more than once wound up insulted and summarily arrested by small-town policemen.
Behind the snowcat the queue of Swedish cadets looked imperturbable hanging on the towline. A dwarfed forest of arctic birch streamed past them. The American Harald said that he had wearied of the hippie transience and he enrolled at San Francisco State College to get his degree in economics. Then came the revolution at S.F. State and the young man did his share of rock-throwing and barricade-charging and bellowing epithets at the police. But he got his degree, then left the U.S.—through Canada—when his draft number came up.
"I'm out of it now, man, long gone. My trip is simplicity. All you straight cats can do anything you want. Hell, I'm no motherin' moralist. But me and my old lady and kid are where we want to be and I've got a little bread of my own. We might head back to the coast of Norway and buy a little farm, on some fjord—you can get it cheap. We might stay up here in the Arctic. Man, you ain't made a trip 'til you've lived in this place. Oh, you should see it in the summer, man. This ground is alive with berries and fruit and wild-flowers. Hey, and just look out there...."
He waved a mittened hand toward the glistening expanse of the uninhabited shores of Lake Abiskojaure and toward the endless sunlighted spaces and toward the perfect transparent blue winter sky. "I dig it," he said softly.
The Viking Grandson wondered: Yes, perhaps it would have been differently put, but really could it have been said more clearly by Snorri Sturluson—or even Thorarin Praise-Tongue?