Goodbye to NoahPosted: July 13, 2011
Our last week with Noah was fun. His Uncle, Aunty and cousins have a “beach house” at Steigen, a clutch of islands between Lofoten and mainland Norway. Steigen has held a prominent role in North Norway, historically a seat of Viking chieftains for many hundreds of years. The surrounding fjords (sea inlets, sometimes up to 200 km long) and archipelago offering protection from land and sea faring enemies. Antonio had impressed upon me that it was a lovely spot, and he had not exaggerated.
Two days of beautiful weather saw Noah enjoy himself immensely with his cousins. Their playground is sunshine, a shallow bay, a private beach and boats. It was wonderful to see him running free, speaking Norwegian and being understood.
As adults, we soaked up the peaceful beauty of the environment. A tiny flotilla of boats, anchored, waiting patiently near the tiny pier; the surrounding farmland, cows grazing on grassy islands on the beach; the outlook, Lofoten’s rocky mountains, stark, sharp, pointy, dramatic! We thank Andreas and Sylvia for treating us to a tiny slice of their heaven away from home.
Watching the children play impresses upon us, how in many ways, a Norwegian childhood is enchanting. Entertainment for Noah is a good walk up a hill, sometimes a hike up a mountain, the reward, the view at the top. Often a fire is built
and cheese on bread or a sausage is cooked, sometimes they just make a little fire. In this part of Norway anyway, we notice that life for children is immersed in the great outdoors – a strong relationship with the nature they live in. Fishing in a Fjord, off a pier, rocks or from a boat, if necessary, through a hole cut in ice! Walking in forests and a seemingly unlimited range of mountains and hills. In mid to late summer its berry time and Noah took great pride in spotting blueberries and cloudberries and showing us which to pick and eat. He would eat them by the handful. As Antonio loves to say, kids here still play with a bucket and spade. Just for a large part of the year, its dressed up warm and in the snow, not the sand. Noah already has his cross-country skis, as normal as a bicycle or learning to swim, in Australia.
The local Kommune encourages walking and hiking with a well organized incentive program. At the top of many walks sits a waterproof box with an exercise book and pencil to record your names when you make it. It may also include a “press” stamp that you put on a card and later send away to be entered into a draw to win prizes and money. All adding fuel to a love of nature and patriotism for their country, stronger than we have seen before.
I have heard it said that Norwegians find it difficult to settle in other countries. I can understand why. Many Norwegian traditions are instilled into every day life from a very young age; the forest/hill walks, the 5 small meals a day. In such a moist country, there is very little dust. Because of all the fjords and mountains, it is difficult to drive very far without a spectacular view. Nature is impressed upon Norwegians, whether they like it or not. Wildflowers (even wild pansies), wild berries, wild long grasses and flowering weeds, abound in summer. In winter, its a snow white environment, daily snow on the doorstep! For 3 months of a year, the sun does not set below the horizon, and 3 months it will not rise. It’s impossible to take nature for granted and this, I believe, forges a strong sense of belonging. Noah is a Norwegian boy! A very happy Norwegian boy. Part Italian, born in Australia, but seemingly, at this stage, a true Norwegian!!!
We are sad to leave, and have had such a lovely time with Noah. We know he is in a wonderful place with lots of love, nurturing and an almost idyllic lifestyle. Antonio is a realist, he has this little boy in his heart and will not be letting him go, and under the circumstances, we could not hope for anything better ………………. we’ll be back again soon.