A very brief post to mark the arrival of Mørketid. The sun made it over the horizon today for nineteen minutes, but now the Polar Night has arrived.
It was cloudy today, and the light was blue-grey over the sound, but when the darkness comes, festive Christmas lights are everywhere.
And of course it is the first Sunday advent and in true Norwegian style, we have an advent crown… though over the years I have strayed a long way from the traditional purple candles. This years crown looks like this.
I have been adding the changing daylength at the top of each post for a while now. Those who have noticed might have calculated that over the course of each week, we are losing an hour of light and gaining an hour of darkness. The rate of change is not exactly disconcerting, but it is a little disorienting. I look at the clock expecting it to be late evening and find it is only seven o’clock.
Sometime last week, I noticed two of the trees beside the little pond in the town centre had been decorated with lights. In the UK and in the more southerly part of Norway where I used to live, there were tasteful lights draped in the branches of the trees around Christmas, but this was something different. The whole tree, trunk and branches, seemed to be swathed in lights, and it seemed odd that there were only two. I drove home yesterday and to my delight, saw that now there were lots more trees lit up. I don’t know whether they are finished, or whether there are more to come, but Andrew, Triar and I went for a wander around the pond and it was beautiful.
As well as the changing daylength, there has been another change this week. John has started to do seasonal work at the abattoir. He is working with the sheep shearing squad. There is a technique, of course, to sheep shearing. He tells me it’s important to remove the wool in a smooth manner, ensuring that the length doesn’t get disrupted. If they don’t get it right first time, they are encouraged not to take another cut as the shortness of those segments would degrade the quality and mean the price would be lower. For my part, I’m glad that the wool is used. I remember being told at university that wool was considered so worthless that it was often thrown away. If we breed animals for food, I can’t help feeling that we should do what we can to use every one of the products that creates. Anyway, for now, John has moved out and is living in a house with other members of the team and seems to be enjoying it, which is wonderful.
Andrew has also been away this week, visiting his dad and the orthodontist. He flew back yesterday evening, and as the airport is near to where I was working, I decided I would find something to do there instead of coming home and having to drive back. Rather than leaving Triar at home all day on his own, he came with me in the car. The airport is at Bardufoss, and as Foss is Norwegian for waterfall, I decided to go and look for it. It didn’t take too long to find. I’m sure it was beautiful once… but it was now empty. Norway is famous for its renewable energy. 98% of electricity production comes from renewable sources, and though the number of wind farms is increasing year on year, the majority still comes from hydroelectric.
But of course, where there are mountains, you are never too far from a waterfall. As I was driving, I noticed signs for Målselvfossen and so I followed them. It was well worth the effort. As Triar and I walked down into the valley, sunlight stippled the hills in the distance.
Down beside the river, the roar filled our ears. There was a salmon ladder, currently closed, but well worth a revisit next year as the summer comes round again. We’ll definitely be coming back!
Yesterday was the now annual event that is setting up the Christmas tree. For the last three years, it has been snowy, but this time round it was dry and well above freezing. Not so Christmassy perhaps, but not so chilly on the feet either. We buy the tree in the neighbouring village. Wandering around the plot and trying to find the perfect tree can take a while, but having found one we liked, which was actually far taller than we needed, the man came and cut it down and packed it up for us. At least we know it’s freshly harvested! And now, there it stands, the centre-piece in the room sending its wonderful warm light out into the darkness.
It was raining quite fiercely earlier today. I generally try to get out for a walk each morning at eleven, but sometimes these dull wet mornings it can be difficult to motivate myself. I could, however, hear the surf from inside the house, so convincing myself that it would be spectacular, I donned a waterproof jacket, tied up the hood (so the wind didn’t just blow it straight back off) and set out.
I tried to take some photographs, but as ever it is impossible to capture the sullen ferocity, the continuous boiling motion and the roar that fills the air. Ferocious is the right word for it. As ever after a storm, there were sad little avian bodies scattered along the shoreline along with the washed up seaweed.
When I do walk down to the sea on a windy day, I find it hard to drag myself away. I eventually turned back when I realised I couldn’t get any further without getting my feet wholly soaked. And anyway, by that time, the rainwater soaking into my leggings was becoming heavy enough to cause them to descend. Even I have my limits!
Finally, when I got home, I finished making the Bailey’s Irish Cream and Rum Butter Truffles. You can find the recipes here.