A Northern Farewell (For Now)

Contemplating the five weeks I spent in Norway this winter, it is amazing how that period of time seems both like eternity, and like a matter of precious, fleeting moments.  For the most part, I returned only to feel like I had never left.  Things continued as they always had, and as, in some ways, they probably always will.  I felt that same overwhelming sense of place, of home, of belonging, that pulls me back there again and again.  And then, as suddenly as I had arrived, it was time to leave again; to drag myself away from it, once again.  Suddenly, my last days in Norway were upon me.  This time, however, the sadness was not earth-shattering.  I know that I will always return here, with a much greater certainty than ever before.

And so it was that we made the very most of my last days in Northern Norway.  We went on a beautiful kick-sledge ride along the seaside in the afternoon sunset light.

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Tor Edvin decided to stick with the 60’s style from now on.

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Here I am, frolicking in joy before the majestic Efjord mountains. 

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Happy, cold, and representing RISD, even overseas!

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And then… it was time to leave Skarstad.  It was sad, but it didn’t feel like goodbye, more like “see you again, sooner than last time.”

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Ellen, surrounded by an amazing assortment of photographs and paintings.

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Edvin, telling stories. 

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Sun poured through the window as we packed our bags while dancing to Scandinavian electronica. 

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When we were ready to go, Tor Edvin went to go shovel some snow off the roof, and I took the opportunity to explore the barn, where Edvin is slowly building a museum.  He’s only barely begun, but it was already a surreal and magical experience.

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Around the corner, where the sheep used to be kept, hung a huge variety of fish heads.  Sunlight filtered through their transparent skin as they stood suspended from pieces of rope, mouths agape.

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An assortment of tails hung there as well.  It was like a room of bizarre, sculptural mobiles.

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The halibut head took center stage.

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With that, we drove back to Narvik, stopping on the Efjord bridge to take one last look at the mountains.  Tor Edvin tested out an ancient camera he had found in his house.

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We spent quite a while staring down at the currents that swept the seafloor under the bridge.

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The sadness began to creep in.  Tor Edvin would leave the next morning, and the day after that, I would be gone, unwillingly on a jet, speeding southbound through the sky.  As we approached Narvik, an impending feeling of emptiness began to sink in – but not for long, for we arrived at my host family’s house in the middle of a party!  A huge group of family friends surrounded the table, with giant pots of hot Thai soup, bottles of wine, and cheesecakes baking in the oven.  The house was alive with lively conversation and laughter.  “What timing!” I marveled, as we were handed glasses of wine and offered round after round of hot soup.  “It’s not exactly a coincidence,” smiled Eva.  Although it wasn’t technically my last night… it was a perfect last night, nonetheless.

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I left my camera at home the next day, on purpose.  I was done.  Eva and I drove across the fjord to Ankenes, and skied up Ankenes Mountain as darkness settled over the landscape, talking about everything under the sun.  Finally, we stood at the top of the mountain in nearly complete darkness.  Narvik sparkled below us in a sea of glittering lights; faint white mountains surrounding the fjord, the sea an inky black.  We looked down upon it in complete silence.  Then we skied down.

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Until next time.

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