Further to the previous signs of spring, last Saturday we had a bit of a walk around town, and here is some of what we saw:
Green Grass As in South Carolina, the grass here goes brown in winter, although you don’t really notice once it’s snowed. However, it going green again.
Flowers They literally appeared over night, and there are more coming everyday.
More Seagulls Seen pictured on the still-frozen Finnsnes Vann. They are also beginning to squabble noisily over nesting sites on the flat roof over our offices.
Receding Piles Of Snow Not very attractive anymore.
The First Wedding Of The Year Congratulations to the happy couple.
Super Spring Silliness The local scouts were out on the town square giving away coffee and waffles, and inviting people to build a pile of crates while standing on the top. Apparently the record is 28, but this time the best was 10, due to a very strong cold wind, and the lack of a flat foundation. Going, going, gone . . .
This is not a phrase you hear often in Norway!
However, it would have been good advice to a young man in the south of Norway. He was recently sentenced to 21 days in prison, plus a driving ban and a fine, after crashing a car. Apparently the 19 year old had missed the school bus and didn’t want to be late for a history test, so did what anyone else in his position would have done – ‘borrowed’ his dad’s Ferrari. Despite having no driving license, he and a friend then headed for school at twice the speed limit. On the way he lost control (apparently the pedals are too close together), hit a tree, then came to rest in a primary school playing field. Thankfully no-one was injured.
But it was very bad, very dangerous, and very expensive:
Ouch! Apparently this dad wasn’t amused either.
My third anniversary of coming to Norway slipped past quietly this week.
God is good, and we continue to be here to worship.
Despite the predictions of “You’ll be fluent in the Norwegian after 2 weeks / a month / 3 months / 6 months / a year / a couple of years”, I’m still far from a native speaker. However, it works OK for me (mostly)!
And I’m better at skiing than when I arrived . . .
. . . which leads neatly to pictures from a ski-trip-cum-lesson today, at Finnfjordbotn (an area close to Susanna’s school). This including a stop at a lavo (tent) where we tente en bål (lit a camp fire, in the tent) and drank tea (teabags courtesy of the Royal Air Force). I was complimented on my improving technique, given tips on how to look less English, and then later was loaned a 200+ page in book about how to ski (in Norwegian, but with good illustrations!!!!).
This panorama is looking out towards the mountains in Målselv kommune. The furthest frozen lake is Finnfjordvatnet – seen last weekend from the other end:
This is the lavo (photo taken a couple of week on another trip):
Last weekend was the final confirmant camp of the year, held as usual at Tømmerneset, about 20 minutes drive from Finnsnes. The ‘camp’ is on the edge of a lake – Finnfjordvatnet – which is still just about frozen. The late afternoon sun shining on the ice through gaps in the clouds produced some moody images:
Norway’s state broadcasting organisation (NRK) has a website with a wide range of news items, from very serious domestic and international stories, to some that leave one wondering if it’s the 1st of April again. Here are a couple:
Oktobass. An extreme bassist of the classical persuasion has bought
herself themself an oktobass. This instrument is about 3m / 10′ tall, costs about 100000 NOK / $6000 / 10000 GBP per meter, and plays a bottom note that is so low that no-one can hear it. The full story is here, including videos of it being played.
Exported Norwegian elk / moose required a toilet stop every two hours
Yes, that’s right. Elk / moose which were recently exported from Norway to Slovakia required a stop every two hours for fresh air and to ‘relieve’ themselves. Full story here. I cannot image how these kings of the woods were prevented from wandering off: they normally take no notice of humans unless they feel threatened, when they can be very aggressive. They also have zero road sense, as we discovered on Sunday evening when a full grown male casually stepped over the crash barrier and crossed the road a few feet in front of our car. Thankfully Sarah reacted very quickly so the car is in one piece, as is the animal.
Teddybears’ Polar Bears’ Picnic
Whilst visiting Svarlbad to see the recent solar eclipse, some Czech tourists now risk being straffet (punished either with a large fine or a spell in prison) after allowing themselves to become a polar bear’s picnic. Apparently the bear managed to evade both their camp polar bear perimeter early warning system, and a sentry (who had fallen asleep) and was just tucking into a tourist, when he was caught red handed (although no-one was seriously hurt). Full story here.
More silliness soon . . .
Spring is (sadly?) on the way. Here are some of the signs:
1. It’s stopped snowing and started raining 😦
2. It no longer gets properly dark at night
3. The seagulls are returning (and singing their ‘song’)
4. Things that were lost in the snow last autumn are re-appearing. For example, the picnic table and play equipment in the play area outside our apartment, and a minibus in a car park somewhere in the middle of Norway:
5. Everything is covered in mud, or grey dust (caused by the studs on winter car tyre grinding the round surface), or both.
6. The snow is melting fast, making it harder to find places to ski. One of the problems is that at the bottom of a lot of hills are rivers, which in ‘proper’ winter are frozen solid and covered in snow, but now are running free and could be a bit hazardous if one were to ‘ramle ned
‘ (fall over).
The last week or so has brought an unusally large number of funerals to the old Lenvik Parish Church at Bjorelvnes, about a half hour drive north of Finnsnes. This has meant multiple trips.
Here are pictures from Tuesday. The panorama is Senja over Gisundet, the sound which separates Senja from the mainland. The other very zoomed image is some of the mountains on the south Senja:
The rest of the pictures were taken today. The first 360° panorama has Bjorelvnes in the ‘foreground’ with the old Lenvik Parish Church, the town in the distance over the sea is Gibostad on Senja (you can see an ‘interactive’ panorama here). There was quite a bit of boat traffic, including the small local fishing boats, and a boat towing 4 huge salmon farming enclosures. The second panorama shows Gibostad which appears to be nestled under some hills. It’s a bit deceiving really: Gibastad stands on a ness (peninsula), so the hills are actually about 20 miles away over the sea on Kvaløya!
And the water looks inviting doesn’t it?
Some of you may recall that in the new year we began an Alpha Course. 60 people began and with two sessions to go, we’re still around 50, which is pretty good. A couple of weeks ago we had the course weekend away (well actually just a long Saturday). We were hosted in Rossfjord at the flerbrukeshus (multi-use parish building) which worked really well
Part of the decoration in the main hall is a patchwork ‘tapestry’, created by one of our cousre participants, made from older embroidered panels, donated by people living in the Rossfjord area. It is a great illustration of what it means to be ‘the church’ – everyone brings something, and if one person is missing things don’t ‘hang’ together and one looses the beauty of the whole. Click to enlarge.
The tapestry was put together from old hand-work, donated by residents and is the village’s gift to the Flerbrukshus.
The tapestry reflects the village hand-work tradition through many decades and stands as a cultural inheritance worth preserving.
Many of the hand-work panels are old and fragile, so it’s fine that you just look in wonder, and don’t touch the tapestry!
The journey out was also special, with a new dusting of snow, crisp, clear air and bright sunshine:
And finally, the advert. We start a new course in the autumn, and if you want to have a ‘taster’ we’re running a preview supper evening:
A little late in the day, but God Påske / Happy Easter!
– Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallalujah!
– Kristus er oppstanden! Ja, han er sannelig oppstanden! Hallelujah!
It appears that our parish is bucking the national trend of declining Easter day congregations. Today we had approximately double the attendance of last year! This may be because weather wise, today’s been a bit of a let down (at least in the context of Påskestemmning – see the post from yesterday for details). However yesterday evening we got amazing colours just after sunset: the mountain-tops lit up almost fluorescent pink! Click the pictures to enlarge:
We’ve made it to Påskeaften (Easter Eve).
The last two ‘cultural’ events went well: the Våpenhuskonsert drew an audience of 85, which is far to many, so some people had to sit in the parish hall with the doors open, and in combination with Være i Stillheten brought in donations of 7000 NoK (600 GBP or $900) towards redecoration work.
Today we only have one service (11pm), so we had time for a short ski trip on Senja.
In Norway there is a huge fixation about Påskestemning (Easter atmosphere / feeling) which sadly is nothing to do with Jesus, but rather outdoor activities, trips in the country and ‘holiday spirit’. Key elements are sunny weather, enough snow for skiing, digging holes and grilling things over an open fire. Today, we experienced a bit:
You can also see a 360 degree panorama here.