Wrapping Things Up in Norway for This Year

Painting the Roof

Gjaeroy, Norway

The first week of June was our last week in Norway, and lucky for us, the weather turned sunny long enough for Ole to coat the roof of the house, which was rusty and in serious need of attention. As he often said this visit, “now it looks like people live here, instead of just sheep.”

During the week we managed to visit many folks on the island for dinner, including Lyder and his family, Liv at her new cabin, and Wenche and Odd Kaare (distant cousins of Ole). A couple of different versions of moose stew demonstrated to me that I love that meat – rich and sweet.

An odd culinary experience was a first-time (for me) tasting of seagull eggs for breakfast, courtesy of Wenche and Odd-Kaare. When you think about it, folks who live on an island this remote are accustomed to taking advantage of every single opportunity to gather food – from fishing to berry picking to nest raiding. I must say that while it definitely was an egg, the texture and color were more intense, and the idea was a bit weird to me. Just gave me pause to consider where my food comes from. As an American, it comes from Safeway wrapped in plastic. Here, you see it alive and frolicking before you exercise your “top of the food chain” predatory rights.

Another exciting addition to our last week was the arrival of about 50 10-year-old Boy Scouts from the local community, as well as their chaperones. They’re camping just between us and the road in several enormous canvas teepees, and are here to learn some of the local traditions that internet-game-playing TV-watching 10-year-olds just don’t seem to know how to do any more – how to find, catch, and clean fish; how to tie knots (so your boat doesn’t drift away); how to spit-roast a lamb; and other boy scout stuff.

Lyder invited us to a local concert given by the community’s music school on our final Saturday afternoon. The community may have close to 2,500 people, scattered among the mainland and several little islands – and the music school, of which Lyder is the director, has about 80 students. Forty or so students between 8 and 15 years old gathered on Saturday, June 6, to share their accomplishments with about 200 proud parents and interested locals. Ole and I were thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and skill the kids showed, and were delighted to see some truly talented kids. While a few kids played solo keyboard or guitar pieces, there were several groups with drums, keyboard, rhythm, bass and lead guitar, as well as soloists and backup vocals. We realize that Norway is VERY expensive, with a tax rate of about 50%. But seeing the quality of music education, the state of the art equipment, and the ferry system putting on an extra boat to transport the audience from several islands (in other words, tax dollars at work), we might want to give some thought to quality arts education in the US. Though it’s not the best picture, here is the cast doing their final bow.

Raymond, Odd Kaare, Wenche and Britt

After the concert, we walked across to Britt and Raymond’s cabin for an evening snack and were joined by Wenche and her husband Odd Kaare. We laughed, ate, and drank until they spoke English and I spoke Norwegian. Amazing what a little lubrication can do! At the end of a lovely evening, we walked back home and enjoyed the sun peeking around the Rodoy “lion” at 2:30 in the morning. Spectacular to watch the sun go sideways across the sky instead of up and over. In this part of the world, the sun comes up around June 1 and sets again some time in early July. Hard to believe until you’ve seen it – and it makes getting to sleep at night very interesting!

We packed and closed up the house to leave on Monday, July 8, to fly to Oslo for an overnight. Petter took the train from Lillehammer to join us for dinner and a very short visit. Then Tuesday morning, the itinerary was Oslo/Amsterdam/Panama City, where we stayed a couple of days to get some business done on the house project. We were able to get back to Emma Jo in time for cocktail hour on June 11. It was sure good to see everyone, and to find the boat so well taken-care-of by Brian. The cats were thrilled to see us, circling our feet and smelling the suitcases to see what we might have brought them! It’s good to be home.

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