Refreshing rain. Brown dying branches. Fresh green growth. Sunshine through the water droplets. Opposites that blend and contrast. Invigorating!
All through my dirty window. The dirt adds texture, don’t you think? (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)
While sitting together over coffee this morning, we watched the interplay of sun, clouds, and rain across the fjord over Fanafjellet. I didn’t get up to get my camera; I just sat and absorbed the subtly changing scenery.
These photos aren’t from today, but they have cloud, sun, and rain patterns similar to what I saw.
We’ve lived in this little piece of paradise for almost two years now. Our views here are a different perspective compared to those we saw when we lived at a higher elevation on Løvstakken overlooking the southern Bergen valley.
The intermittent rain stopped a couple hours ago, and the sun and clouds have been playing hide and seek. It’s a little nippy to sit outside and enjoy it, but I did go out for a bit … just in time to catch this.
A magical moment.
And then, just as I was about to hit the “publish” button, my husband called me out to see this.
That sun and cloud glow: two magic moments in one hour. Thank you, Norway!
As many years as I’ve lived in this mountainous area, I’m still amazed at how people can move mountains to carve out a place for themselves. Whether from my “used to flat land before moving to the West Coast of Norway” perspective, or the reality of “how humans are able to literally carve a place for themselves out of a more inhospitable geographic area” perspective, it’s an important example of adapting to life in this country.
Need to get to the other side of a mountain? Small paths and narrow, winding roads were the norm for centuries. Whether a big or small car, truck, or train transport in our modern day, it’s not a problem; Norway has perfected the reality of tunneling *through* it.
Those small roads? Examples of them are still quite abundant! Narrow and winding, in many places they’re only wide enough for one car to pass at a time. Sometimes they’re closed because of an avalanche … which requires more innovation to clear the rocks and boulders safely.
Building a home? Dynamite a place out of the mountain rock for the foundation! Need a cement mixer to pour that foundation, but it’s too big and bulky to get close enough to the construction? Innovate with an extension!
No room for a building for construction and storage, with an adequate parking lot for big trucks to maneuver? Not a problem — blast away the rock.
And when the rock is removed, the streets and walkways set, the buildings constructed, and the people are settled … take any extra space available and plant beautiful flowers or tasty vegetables.
Nature does a good job of …
… innovating and adapting to a carved-out mountain, too, don’t you think?!
Jan’s explorations into his family’s history have been fascinating for me, especially when he discovered family in the States and I thought about that reality from the perspective of *my* ancestors that emigrated to America from Scotland and Germany. So I asked him to share a little of his family’s story with you, set against the backdrop of Norwegian history.
Take it away, Jan!
by Jan Eek
In the span of less than a hundred years, from around 1825, almost 900,000 Norwegians emigrated to USA. To put it in perspective, the population in Norway in 1860 was 1,595,000. That means that around 10 to 12 million Americans are of Norwegian ancestry.
These are just numbers, so what do we know about the people, the human side of this emigration?
I can only relate to my own family, and as it turned out, I was in for several surprises.
The first one came as we moved from Bergen to a smaller place, Os, an hour’s drive from Bergen. So, what did I find out? Well, I have always known the name of my grandmother and connected it to Bergen, and the first thing I found was that my grandmother’s father was born on a farm very close to where we now live and that he belonged to a prominent family in this area. So, I was back at the cradle of my family!
Further inquiry led me to the most interesting person, my great-great grandfather, Wilhelm. He was a wild one in his youth. He became a father for the first time at the age of 16 and his first son is my direct ancestor. He then roamed Norway, Sweden and Denmark and fathered several children. His family, including a priest and a fairly rich farmer/shopkeeper, of course was embarrassed and tired of this unruly young man, so he was married to a sturdy woman, Thora, and promptly sent to America.
That was the second surprise for me. I had no idea! I have family in the US …
Here is a picture of Wilhelm and Thora in America.
Wilhelm and Thora had eight children and the first years in the US they lived in a cave in Minnesota. Then they managed to get some land and slowly they developed it into a proper farm and later on established an hotel in the nearest town.
So, I have family here where I live and a large number of cousins in America. I have been in contact with my local family and also connected with one of my American cousins. She came to visit me and I showed her the area and the old farm house which is the origin for both of us AND it is still owned by my family, which was another surprise.
For a while I was hung up in tracing my family, but I stopped when I got to the 16th century. I turned the focus, thinking of the next generations, so I am now writing everything I know and can find out about people in my family. I want my grandchildren and their children to be able to connect with the history of our family.
My husband has been researching his ancestry. He’s always known about his Bergen ancestors, and in his recent explorations he’s discovered relatives in the States … and met one! Their common ancestor comes not from Bergen, but from Fusa, very close to where we live now in Os.
Last week Jan and I drove out to Fusa for a couple hours’ visit. A short journey away — about thirty minutes, including the ferry — Fusa is a small community along the side of the Bjørnefjorden. I was entranced with the location and the views. It isn’t as expansive a view as where we live now, as it’s more level with the fjord on one side and a steeper mountain hill on the other. I felt an intimacy with the fjord waters that I can’t get from our view from 100 meters up.
Here are photos from the day, beginning with the short wait on the Osøyro side of the fjord for the ferry that runs about every thirty minutes (and doesn’t offer any view) …
… a quick shot over Bjørnefjorden from the Fusa side of the crossing …
… and another quick shot over Bjørnefjorden from the area that Jan’s ancestors lived …
… driving down to stand next to the fjord, again looking towards Osøyro …
… laughing at MacKenzie, who couldn’t get enough of the dry winter grass that felt so good on her dry winter coat …
… standing transformed by the silence and calm of the fjord, watching the ferry as it made its way back and forth across the fjord …
… pausing for a moment to look behind me towards the mountain hill, notice a slide that emptied into the fjord, and mentally plan to get back in the summer to watch the kids and parents having fun …
… traveling towards the cemetery, and discovering a place of ancient and modern monuments representing history, love, and tranquility a few steps from the fjord (not visible in the photos is the small creek that ran beside the cemetery on its journey from mountain to fjord; its sound was soothing and comforting) …
… and finally, waiting at the pier for the return ferry, watching the gulls and fish eagles active on their own little island, their own little piece of Norway …
You’d think I’d stop being surprised at my delight in every newly discovered place in my part of the world. I hope I never am!
Here’s where we were on Wednesday …
… and here’s where Fusa is in relation to the rest of Norway and the world.
Last summer we visited The Bergen Maritime Museum. As you can tell from those linked posts, I was intrigued by the seafaring history of Norway in general and my specific area of this country particularly. For several reasons, I found the Oselvar exhibit especially fascinating.
A little background about this type of boat, courtesy of my husband’s Internet sleuthing skills and his discovery of information from the Oselvarklubben/Oselvar Club:
“The Oselvar is a clinker built wooden boat from Hordaland with traditions dating back several thousand years. Archeological findings show large similarity to the Oselvar of today … The term term Oselvar was introduced around 1750 and points to the place were two boatbuilders had their work shop at the mouth of the Os river, entering the Bjørnefjorden …”
In other words, a few minutes from where I live now. 🙂 Continuing:
“From those two boatbuilders we can reconstruct and to a large degree document how the boatbuilders knowledge and skills was passed on from father to son during the following 250 years.”
Please do visit the webpage to read the complete information from the Oselvarklubben/Oselvar Club in English. It is a fascinating history, the details of making an Oselvar are given, and there are additional photos from perspectives I could never capture.
At the end of that page, there’s information about the Oselvarverkstaden, a workshop that opened at the mouth of the river in Osøryo to pass the historical knowledge of building these boats:
I occasionally see these boats sailing the fjord:
My “paintings and photographs: Mother and Child by the Sea” post shows this type of boat.
And, the Bergen Maritime Museum has an entire display, including models, drawings, sketches … and two actual boats from the 1800’s:
We were in Osøryo three weeks after visiting this display in July. I walked next to the river towards the Bjornafjorden to capture my seagulls photo. I was a short distance from Oselvarverkstaden/Oselva Workshop, pictured in the first gallery above. I felt as if I was walking through history. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about that!