WHEN JAYS FLY TO BARBMO by Margaret Balderson


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Never do jays fly to the winter mirage the Lapps call Barbmo: ""They never feel the call. They remain in the place where they Were born. . . . It is the law of things. . . . Every creature knows its own pattern instinctively--and nothing in the whole world can ever change that pattern."" And so it proves to be with Ingeborg, who seeks and thinks she has found her Barbmo with her mother's people in Lapland; not until later does she understand what Per the wise old Wood Troll meant when he told her long ago that she would no more permanently emigrate from her bleak Norwegian village than the jays would. Per was taken away by Stormtroopers rounding up hidden Jews, just as the aunt with whom Ingeborg lived was taken to death in her weary sleep afterwards; and as her father sank with his fishing boat while smuggling some soldiers to safety, just as her mother had died in the ice and cold giving birth to her. During the Dark Time that is Nature's annual gift to her homeland, Ingeborg is alone to survive the devastation. . . until she burns her father's house and farm to prevent the Nazis from having that pleasure and sets off on skis and optionless determination to find her Lapp family. That their disinvolved way is not, cannot be hers, Ingeborg discovers when she joins them on the springtime trek to the environs of her past: while they look after their reindeer she finds dear friend Veikko building a new fire on the old homesite, and together they plan to reconstruct a life. The image evoked in the restrictively literary course of Ingeborg's sometimes faltering and always dense story suggests Anne Frank's diary written into a Bartos-Hoppner Siberian wilderness; though destined for only limited response it is an image wrought of violent silence with a rare and relentless grip.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1969
Publisher: World