Our apartment here in Bergen has two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a hallway. It is sparingly but comfortably furnished with the items that came in it, plus a few that Jan purchased before I joined him – a TV, a radio, a coffee maker (essential!!), a computer table, a bookshelf, a chair he bought just for me. He brought three small picture paintings with him from his apartment in Oslo when he packed his car to move here this summer, but all of his beautiful artwork is in storage waiting for us to find a home – as my household items will also be stored once they arrive here in Norway.
Except for those small pictures which have been hung in the living room our walls are bare, but the wood floors and moldings and walls and lighting of this apartment are so detailed and carefully restored and of a pleasing, neutral coloring that they in themselves are very comfortable to look at.
This apartment is located in an area of industry and residential living. It is an end unit on the ground floor, and the windows in the kitchen and the second bedroom look out to the small yard and some of the other apartments in our area. The living room windows and one of our bedroom windows looks across to an office building.
But our other bedroom window looks out the side of our building. Above the hedge at the edge of the yard I can see the private narrow gravel road I take down to the large pond, Solheimsvatnet, when I walk MacKenzie. Ducks swim there, and birds are usually swooping around too. I can tell how cold it is in the morning by looking out the window at the water and so know how many layers to put on before I head out for my morning walk with MacKenzie. If the ducks are swimming freely, I know I can leave my gloves at home. If the seagulls are standing on top of the water in the middle of the lake, then I know we’ve had a light freeze and I should probably take those gloves with me. If the middle of the lake has a coating of white with bird tracks trailing across, then the freeze has been covered with snow and I’d better get a warm hat on. And if the ducks are gone then I know the long johns better get worn, as the water is totally frozen over and the bread I’ve saved to feed them will not be shared for a while!
Standing at my window, I look above the water, above the homes and apartments that ring it, and I see the mountains and valleys. Ulriken, Rundemanen, Blåmanen, Fløyen, Løvstakken rise around us – four of those I can see from the window. Bjørndalen and Isdalen are the valleys that I can see rolling between. In the fifteen days I have been here I have seen them change constantly:
lit by the sun…
or (usually) with clouds or fog drifting across and through them …
All that I have described is a sight my eyes just will not take for granted. Thank heavens!! MacKenzie and I walk by the water three or four times a day. Jan and I will hike up into the mountains in the coming months and years, but even just driving or walking in this area is to be crawling on their beginnings.
Lately, as I have been reading for a few minutes before falling asleep, I’ve been enjoying a collection from childhood that I’ve brought into my adulthood, C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia.” They are a set of seven books about a magical kingdom, and have many faith parallels. I enjoy them all, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. Have you read it? The story starts with Edmund and Lucy (who have visited Narnia twice already) and their obnoxious cousin Eustace bickering in front of a painting on a bedroom wall; suddenly, the ship in the painting is in motion, spraying them with water as the wind blows the foam of the waves out onto them in the room. They are still standing in the bedroom, yet are also on the edge of the painting … and then it pulls them in. The painting – and the magical kingdom of Narnia – once more becomes their reality.
During my visit to Norway this summer I fell in love with the country and people and longed to return. Now I am here again, LIVING here, but there are times when I am busy in the apartment or distracted with my thoughts and I forget the magic of my outdoor surroundings.
Can you see where I’m going with this? Standing at the glass looking out, I realize that this window is MY painting, pulling me in. Looking through it at the changing weather over the past weeks, I can feel the wind through seeing the motion of the trees, brace myself against that wind throwing a cold rain against my face, experience the meager warmth of the winter sun by its glare on the mountain snow, see the birds and almost hear the duck’s quacks, and imagine the coolness of the huge snowflakes as I watch them fall gently from the sky.
And the best part about this “window painting” of mine is that I can step outside – and it becomes my reality.
(Here is where this part of the world is located on the map.)