Sometimes a walk is just a walk, and sometimes, passing through a field of happy cows or by a neighbor’s redcurrant bush, resisting the urge to steal, the words “beacon of light” lodge themselves in one’s brain. I was contemplating death, as one does, walking down the little road towards the sea, looking at the old house where Nilson used to live, the appletrees in the garden belonging to the Finneruds, the people that set sail each weekend on their sturdy yellow boat, and wondering what had happened to them all. Year after year we come back to the island, to our insulated little house, and we slowly lose track of all of them. As I passed the actors cottage with the beautiful flower garden, I thought about Mrs Finnerud and her bright white hair, her smile, her hellos, and the words “beacon of light” appeared front and center. Our purpose in these few sparse years we have on this earth is to spread light and happiness, like little shiney beacons, instead of waiting for it to come to us. I’m not sure what that means but I’m sure All Will Be Revealed.
Sometimes if you squint your eyes at the sun in the right way, either early in the morning, like now at a quarter to six, or in the evening, you can see the pillar of light that Munch puts into many of his paintings. Often they are just sunsets, but at other times, the way the light particles spit all over the canvas makes me believe there is something else going on.
‘Don’t shut out half the possibilities in the world” said my brother to my son who’d just spent ten minutes describing why he did not believe in nor would allow for the existence of God. His argument was morality based. He doesn’t believe in a doctrine which will not allow for gay marriage or the distribution of condoms in AIDS-riddled countries. My brother’s point was that science won’t tell us the whole truth and neither will religion. It’s the whole picture that’s needed to start to understand the Big Mystery. Half of me is thrilled that Jumby’s not here yet, as we enjoy our beer and akvavit and talk about these things. He would surely be Riled Up by now. And the rest of me wants to sink into a heavy, relaxing sigh, as if I’ve suddenly bumped up against the other half of me that went missing years ago, somewhere on the way to Chicago. Finally, I think, there is someone that sees this stuff the way that I do. Finally. I shove a pencil into my hair, twist it into a scholarly knot, and continue to listen. My mother says, rather endearingly, “Who do you think made all this?” and I wonder how many times this “argument” has been used by her. It’s the kind of thing you hear at the age of seven in primary school. All Things Bright and Beautiful and all that. I love her. This is enough for her. But not for the rest of us. Certainly not for Noony who all but rolls his eyes.
Listen to the tranquility. Certainly this morning that’s all there is, that and the squawking gulls, the breeze in the willow trees and that pillar of light shining right across the fjord and into my window.
I fight myself to ignore the CNN Breaking News stories which deliver themselves, fast and furious, to my handheld. I know that Israel and the Hezbollah are blowing themselves to bits just as I sit here, drinking in all this beauty. It’s incongruous.
A scented cardamom bun is not an easy thing to ignore. There are two bags of them perched on top of the refrigerator. If there’s one recipe that we should bring home from Norway it’s the recipe for bolle, the plain kind without raisins. That would be a heavenly way to start each morning.
We share this house with a very large extended family of fat brown slugs. The only difference is that we live on the inside of the house. Our friends are as fat as a breakfast sausage link and about that length, chocolate brown and slimey. Norwegian slugs (sluggicus norvegicus) are some of the plumpest and most healthy I’ve seen, no doubt due to the careful attention paid to their diet, much to the delight of the seagull community.
One other thing I love about Norway: we always forget to bring music and so we rifle through the old tapes and cds that have been left here for years. Last night we were serenaded by the Gipsy Kings. It doesn’t get much better than that.