It’s Christmas Eve. The snow lies thick and crisp, crunching satisfyingly under my feet.The sky is black velvet, with sparkles. Nothing stirs, not even a mouse.
Then there’s a choking, rattling rasp of an engine. In the distance, a blue sparkling light and a trail of smoke moves towards me. A small farm vehicle, with a Christmas tree strapped on the back, decorated front and back with fairy lights. As it wheezes heavily by I can make out three youngsters squashed into the two-person seats. Then it disappears over the hill.
From our sofa in the living room all we can see over the snow pile is a tree, gliding slowly up the hill. Earlier in the week it was just the tree, passing by the house a few times a day. Then the tree got lights. Then the vehicle got lights.
‘EPA tractors’ are farm vehicles licensed for 15 year olds. The only thing that makes them safer than a car to drive is their maximum speed (30 km/h). Everything else about them is more annoying – more noise, more pollution, and more likely to cause an obstruction. Call me a spoilsport but I’ve tended to think that 15 year olds should be walking into town, on their bikes, or sitting at home behaving themselves until they’re old enough to have a driving licence.
But a slow car with a Christmas tree attached – it’s hardly for the Kings of Cool. Kiruna is a town of Big Vehicles, and youngsters aspire to sit up high in a hefty tractor rather than speed along the highway in a Lotus Elan. Chugging along in their EPA tractor with the fairy lights flashing, I get the feeling they really don’t give a damn.
And hurrah for that. Happy Christmas!