It is 9:00 am, and I have just come inside. I have been sitting on my back steps looking towards the sun rising over the mountain.
Its light was warming my face as I listened to the birds sing their morning songs. I closed my eyes and experienced the sensations of the sounds and warmth accompanied by a very light breeze. I felt a peace I have experience before – sitting on the porch of Monica’s house in New Hampshire, listening to HER birds and the rustle of HER wind and experiencing the calmness of HER area that I always felt when visiting there.
Except this is MY world now. Jan has a new job here, and he has brought me to a place I think I have been searching for all of my life. Its name is Modalen.
It is difficult to describe all that I have experienced in the last few weeks. Our move from Bergen was stressful. In addition to the preparation that always comes with a move, add to that the anxiety we felt over Jan’s surgery on April 19th (although recovery will be long, we hope this third ankle surgery has alleviated most of the pain). Although I had lived in Bergen for just four months, they were very intense moments and so I was also experiencing emotional lows at leaving the apartment and surroundings and my Norwegian-language classmates and friends as I prepared for this move.
But I comforted myself with the fact that we were only moving 75 minutes away, and we would be back to visit friends and family and continue to enjoy all that Bergen has to offer.
And so, on Monday we traveled northeast behind our moving van, away from Bergen and towards Modalen. We traveled along a fjord, and over and under the mountains, and arrived in our new home those 75 minutes later. These last few days I have been busy unpacking and getting settled. We will be buying a house in the area, but for now we are in a cozy apartment in a small community-within-a-community of about ten homes that sits on the sunny side of a mountain that overlooks the joining of the end of the Osterfjord and the river that runs through the Modalen valley, at the town of Mo.
It is very remote here! And I am beginning to realize that EVERYONE knows us. It is just going to take time for me to get to know them! In such a small community (about 360 throughout the valley), the knowledge that a new upper management person has been hired by the major company in the area, and he is moving here with his American wife, has of course created a lot of interest.
Many, many of the very friendly employees of Jan’s company have welcomed me in our visits before this move, and several stopped by on Monday to help us put furniture together and donate items that we need before we get our own household items out of storage. Jan has been hired by a true family company – not family by relation, but family by caring.
But in the community where our apartment is located I have only talked with one adult as I walked MacKenzie (between my little Norwegian, and her little English, we had a nice few minutes’ conversation while our dogs also had their version of a conversation), but I have experienced many curious looks and have exchanged tentative smiles with a few more. It will take time for all of us to get acquainted.
But the children! This area has many youngsters. Their laughter and play is a wonderful thing to hear in the spring air through our open doors and windows.
And they have an openness and curiosity that is of course a worldwide trait of all children, but is so refreshing to experience in a small setting. Little ones run through the area in front of our apartment, pausing mid-run to look past our porch and through our windows to see the new people. I smile and wave, and they tentatively smile back and go scooting off. A few minutes later, they’re back to shyly glance in again … maybe with another little one accompanying them.
It’s a nice welcome.
But something more direct happened yesterday afternoon. Our doorbell rang. I opened it to find two young girls, probably about nine and thirteen years old, standing with a bunch of wildflowers. In English they welcomed me to Modalen. And then a few minutes later the doorbell rang again, and there were more girls and boys with flowers, welcoming me.
It was a moment that touched me deep in my heart.
The flowers are in vases in our windows for everyone to enjoy.
They of course bring a little of nature into our apartment. And less evident by sight, but permeating every one of my glances towards them, are the warm feelings of welcome they have also brought into my home.
In America we would say that I am “out in the boonies.” And although this area seemingly IS in a world of its own, “the boonies” is such a derogatory and cold description. I have found a place with a very special warmth.
And not just from the warmth of the morning sun!!