It’s the Fall in Norway and with gratitude in our hearts, we find ourselves strolling about in it, appreciating the chill on our cheeks and scarves about our necks. Another adventure to call our own stored in a treasure trove of many memories made throughout the earth.
We arrived two days ago now, mid-afternoon on Monday in Oslo, sleep deprived but very happy to see our dear friends. These friends are some of our closest and the time we spend together has become less frequent over the years as they find themselves living in different countries as missionaries do. We have over a week with these beautiful hearts and their loving and hospitable Norwegian family. We are so blessed by this gift of time with people we love so much.
The more countries we visit, the more difficult it is to decide which nation has the best hospitality. Norway is incredible. Perhaps its for guests only, but we have yet to see anything different than breakfast being a delicious assortment of cheeses, crackers, bread, jams, fruit and vegetables. You stack it all up and make little sandwiches. Lunch can often be the same if you don’t end up with a sweet treat from a bakery instead. We enjoyed all of the breakfast goodies plus salmon, pork, cured meats, salad and almond cake for an early dinner upon our mid-afternoon arrival in Englesviken, a small coastal village outside the city of Fredrikstad.
It feels like home here. After our first visit in February of 2011, we longed to get back to this compound of sorts where aunts and uncles, parents and siblings all live within walking distance of one another and the sea shore; residing in brightly painted, white-trimmed homes. The fresh sea air, the wooden swings in the trees, the lamps and orchids in the windows, the cozy warmth of the house and the exciting challenge of speaking english in such a way that we can have a conversation brings joy to my heart.
After overcoming some jet-lag at our host’s home on Tuesday, we set out on an adventure on Wednesday with our friends to the Hvaler Islands weaving over bridges and stoney shores. It reminds us of Maine’s seashore; wood boats, smooth rocks and plenty of charm. The final destination was a bakery on Skjeroya Island where we partook in coffee, chocolate rolls and (my favorite) school bread. School bread is a sweet bread with a creme filling and a light frosting sprinkled with coconut. We then scaled the rocks over the village to take in the view. It was time to be tired again so we drove home and I resigned to a nap before dinner.
It is a certainty that we won’t ‘do’ much while we are here, as the time spent in Engleviken is simply about time spent together. How many people have opportunity or time to spend a week with their nearest and dearest going on walks and sharing life together? This is the gift that so few have opportunity to give nor receive. So while I write this blog we settle in from our beautiful walk along the coast and share a snack of Norwegian waffles (with cardamon – my favorite), smeared with strawberry (or raspberry) jam, a bit of sour cream and caramely brown cheese. Time is a meal, friends, good conversations, babies being held, jokes being told, knowledge gained, culture observed, life, love, freedom; time will always be my favorite gift.