We were still looking for a ‘lie’ (pronounced, ‘lee-ah’), a scythe. Our enquiries had led us nowhere, and the grass was up to my waist.

Last year I was sentimental about the wildflowers, but this year the impracticality of managing the meadow has outweighed its charm. It’s not like a meadow here is a rare treat – they’re everywhere there isn’t tarmac or grass. If we leave it uncut it will need some grazing animals, and those aren’t so easy to find here either. Our kind neighbour Aina is tolerant of our encroaching wilderness, but keeps her grass neatly trimmed, and we feel we owe it to her to make the effort.

We went out to ask in another hardware store. Of course, there was no ‘lie’, though they could order it…but we needed it now, and nothing comes to Kiruna quickly.

We set our hopes on the local sale (‘Loppis’) taking place in neighbouring Jukkasjärvi the next day. We tried to visualise someone saying, ‘I know what, let’s get rid of that old ”lie” we never use!’ and taking it along to the ‘Loppis’ saying, ‘here, try and sell this – I don’t suppose anyone will want it, but you never know.’ It was hard to imagine, but we held on to the hope.

After the hardware store we didn’t want to go straight home so we did a bit of cruising around town, looking at streets we didn’t know so well. There are still some wonderful old wooden houses in Kiruna, and streets intact from at least the 1920s, which is very early on in Kiruna’s history. As were going slowly down one street I saw a ‘Loppis’ sign and some plastic and metal stacked up in a tiny window facing the street. You never know – maybe they had a ‘lie’.

Down three narrow stairs, leading us slightly under pavement level, was a cavern of stuff piled up so tightly you could barely pass by. Old rugs, lamps, shelves, tools, books, clothes, fishing stuff, kitchen utensils, material, china. No ‘lie’ though. A man squashed into the clutter at the end of the shop asked us if we were looking for anything in particular. ‘A lie’ I said, and laughed, knowing it seemed a bit ridiculuous. Aha, why did we want that? (his name was Olle). And was there really nowhere we could buy one? Didn’t our neighbour have one? (No). Couldn’t we borrow one from someone else? Well yes, and we could hire one maybe. But we couldn’t just go and knock on a door of a stranger and ask. Oh you can, he said, this is Kiruna.

Someone else came into the shop. Olle asked him if knew of anyone with a ‘lie’. These people here, he said, they want to hire one. The man didn’t own a ‘lie’, so Olle offered to take our telephone number, in case he came across someone else willing to rent out theirs. We were grateful, and on the way out of this cavern Rolf picked up a print of the Beatles’ single, ‘Help’ (US version). It seemed an appropriate purchase. We came home and hung it in our hallway.

The rest of the day was equally exciting – someone came to help us take down a dead birch tree, but that’s another story..

Then this morning the phone rang quite early. ‘It’s Olle,’ said a voice, ‘from the secondhand shop’. I knew from that moment what was about to happen. You know that feeling that, given a chance, things always turn out badly? Well it’s not that feeling. It’s a joyous, reassuring feeling, that people can do things just to be helpful, for no benefit for themselves at all.

Yes, he’d found an old woman with a ‘lie’, and she said it was OK for us to borrow it. No she didn’t want payment. No, no need to come and fetch it, he would bring it round right now.

So he did. Now it’s resting outside the door, waiting for the angel of death to make an appearance.