Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In the Summertime When the Weather is High

A light draft weaved through the empty house as we tiptoed in, peered around doors and tentatively called out names: the place was deserted. And it’s safe to assume that you would find a similar scene in the majority of Norwegian homes this past weekend. Tonje and I had traveled to her father’s house in Steinkjer and no one was home. Instead, they were in the backyard in bathing suits and sunglasses, soaking up the sun. The weekend of June 10 thru 13—an extended one because of Pentecost—saw temperatures reaching 80 F (about 27 C) and nearly constant sunshine throughout most of Norway. To stay inside when the weather is good in Norway is a sin. And I wasn’t about to have that kind of bad karma pinned on me.

After catching up with Tonje’s family for a bit, we decided that we’d make a trip to one of Steinkjer’s two “beaches”. And since the weather was pretty impeccable, we decided to bike there. Tonje estimated the bike ride to be about 30 minutes. But sadly, Tonje has now lost her “time-to-get-there estimating” privileges. Although the trip to the beach turned out to be about 15 miles over hilly Norwegian coastline, the fresh air of the open road was welcome. I want to emphasize that it was indeed an open road too: Norwegian roads frequently contain more sheep and tractors than they do cars. It’s a nice place to bike.

Drenched in sweat, we arrived at the “beach” ready to soak up the sun and let its rays evaporate our sweat—or, in my case, create more sweat. I keep parenthesizing beach because most Norwegian beaches are not the white sand ones that many of us our used to. The one we were at was definitely not. Mostly comprised of lichen-covered rock ledges and grassy knolls, the only signs that it was really a “beach” were the water nearby and the fact that there were lots of people laying out on blankets. Unfortunately, the tide was also out so you would be covered in seaweed and flotsam instead of water if you ventured in. It was still great though. And we relaxed and caught some rays until we Lance Armstrong-ed it back to Steinkjer: without the aid of EPO.

Since no sunny day can be wasted in Norway—something I love—we grilled out that night and kicked the soccer ball around until it was late. We’re rapidly approaching the solstice and it is light outside now literally 24 hours a day—the other day we walked back from a friend’s house at half past midnight and it looked just like 7 p.m. back on the east coast in the US. The next day—another beautiful one—several of us piled in the car, and after a quick stop in Grong to visit Tonje’s grandparents, we arrived at Tonje’s father’s cabin for what would be a much more fruitful fishing trip than my last one.

I toyed with selling myself as an improved fisherman in this entry, but the truth is better in this case, I think. Instead of using polls to fish—as Tonje’s dad rowed 4 of us around in a rowboat in increasingly windy conditions—we used what Norwegian’s call an “otter” I believe. It’s a contraption comprised of a piece of wood about 2/3 of a meter long, a long line with 10 flies on it and a handle which you hold on to. So, instead of having one hook in the water as you would with a normal rod, I had 10: pretty good odds since the trout are really active this time of year. Within an hour I had caught four--although Tonje will happily tell you that we had to throw one back since it was small. She'll also happily tell you that, although she caught fewer fish than me, she did manage to catch the biggest one of the day: debatable. It’s difficult to tell whether or not a you’ve actually caught a fish since you have so many flies out there and the wake hitting the floating board really resembles a fish bite, but you can raise up your line and tell pretty easily if something’s hooked. As I mentioned before, my fishing abilities end once the fish is in the boat. But it turned out to be much more fun that way: I got to watch Tonje break the neck of four of my flopping victims. To say I was emasculated is a bit of an understatement—especially since I would later watch her gut them with her bare hands—but these skills are something that most Norwegians have regardless of gender and I can’t really get too down on myself. Next time I’ll go Rambo on those fish.

The typical Trøndelag weather returned on Monday: a little chilly, a little windy and a little rainy. So we were indoors. But the brief meteorological oasis of the preceding days really showed how much Norwegians value good weather and how they don’t let good things go to waste. Staying inside on a nice day is blasphemous; not taking the boat out is treason; and not firing up the grill—even if it’s a disposable one—is downright unspeakable. And I like it that way. I certainly took advantage of it, and I’ll appreciate the sunny days we’re accustomed to at home even more now. I reaped the rewards of good times and good weather this past weekend. And I’ll get several nice reminders of it again this week as I eat fish that I actually caught myself for the first time in my life. Like the Norwegians, I’ll do my best to not let any good thing go to waste.

1 comment:

  1. Is the second picture a Norwegian bear trap?