Once upon a time, in the frozen black firmament of space, the earth formed out of ice and fire. Over time the fires withdrew back into the earths centre, so the ice grew over most of the earth, with the deepest layers at the north pole. And with it, the first people emerged, the Frost Giants known as the Jotun. The Earth was their land, and it was called was called Jotunhiemr, or giant land.
The Frost Giants lived for the snow and the ice. They walked easily over the vast flatness of the ice sheets that covering great distances in a few strides. So they lived near the north pole but farmed at the equator where the sun was warmest, the ice had melted, made liquid water, and their crops would grow.
Then over time the ice melted and withdrew creating vast flows of water. The land under the ice was exposed and the meltwater moved silt and sand and sometimes rocks, which formed land covered in patterns you might in see in a stream after a flood, or on a beach after an ebb tide. When the wind blew the sand formed sand dunes. The meltwater flowed over and under the ice forming rivers with riverbeds of glacial alluvium. The Frost Giants stopped striding south over the ice sheets to farm at the equator, and planted the patterned sand and silt turned it into fields, gardens and raised beds.
This left the ice free land open and so the second people emerged, the human people. The Frost Giants followed their ice on it’s northern retreat, and the humans followed it north too.
The melt water which flowed under the ice through vast hidden rivers, left their rock and silt strewn beds as long sinuous hills, topped by Beech. And depressions in the ice sheets which filled up with gravel and sand settled on the land as flat topped hills where once there was ice. And blocks of ice set adrift and alone in the silt, melted to make shallow soft edged lakes. And where the meltwater flowed fastest under the ice and cut the land like a scythe, all that remained were deep flat bottomed valleys cut through solid rock.
This is where we live today. The sinuous hill topped by Beech is Brampton Ridge behind my house. A flat topped hill is Burns Wark in Scotland. Talking Tarn is one of those soft edged lakes left by a melted ice block. The rock scoured valley is now the course of the Eden. The place where the northern and southern waters met and flowed is the Solway Firth. And at the Solway’s western end, on a low spring tide, once in a hundred years, some swear you can still see a Snow Giants footprint in silt in the bed of the Firth.
Few people today know that the land we live in was once much smaller. Small enough for the Frost Giants to be able step over our hills in a single stride. Small enough to form marks like you would find on a beach, but covering two square miles of farmland. Small enough for rock and silt strewn riverbeds to become sinuous ridges big enough to let you see the scottish hills 50 miles away.
The land we live in was once much smaller than it is today. Small enough for the giants to step over our hills in a single stride. It was made by the meltwater of Jotunhiemr, the land of the Frost Giants. And some of that meltwater still exists today in springs and small secluded pools. Left behind by the great flow of the ice-melt thousands of years ago, lost in time, it hides itself. Unsure now of which way to go, it waits for the rain to fill up the ground before it shows itself. Then it runs downhill with the rainwater for company, seeking the land of the giants. Seeking Jotunheimr.