Wednesday, Sept 2
Well, the wind continues to howl outside our windows, making us very reluctant to go outside. It’s been blowing so hard today that there are white caps on the water (despite being in a sheltered fjord) and a few times the house shook from the force of the wind. Just as I am typing this, the sound of the wind changed from what we’ve been hearing for the past 1.5 days to the sound of an airplane flying overhead. But I looked and there was no airplane. We did venture out just after lunch to the Lofoten Wool farmstand. They sell wool and products (sweaters, socks, etc) from their own sheep, as well as dye some of their wool with natural dyes. I picked up some wool that was naturally black from a black sheep and some from a gray sheep that was dyed using madder to give it a really nice copper color. Great for fall.
We’re now back at the house, watching the waves and listening to the wind. Since we’re not doing much of interest, I thought maybe I would take today’s blog post to tell you a few of my observations of Norwegian houses, specifically in Northern Norway outside of cities. They generally look very similar to American houses, even in size. In my experience, European houses are generally much smaller than American houses, but there is more room here, so the houses are similar in size to ours, although yards are often still small with houses clustered close together. They are generally built of wood like ours, but are often much more boxy and square. Some have revived the tradition of sod (grass) roofs, but not very many. Most have 3-4 foot wide walls built on either side of the front door, narrower at the bottom, wider near the roof, to protect from wind and snow. Nearly all of them have a ladder attached to the roof going up to the chimney. Rob quipped that it was to assist Santa Claus. My guess is that many Norwegians use their wood burning fireplaces and find it useful to be able to go up to the chimney to make repairs or clean it out. Favorite colors for houses seem to be red, mustard yellow, white, and gray. Except for the white, they blend in nicely with the fall colors we are experiencing now. Barns and other outbuildings are nearly always red. Many barns have a ramp of earth leading to a small bridge and into the upper story of the barn. I haven’t gotten a picture of this yet, but it looks neat. We have seen very few rundown houses or barns in our travels so far. Norwegians seem to take very good care of their houses and yards.
We noticed from the very beginning that Norwegians like their lights on. In the little neighborhood that our first house was in, all the houses had multiple outdoor lights on every evening as soon as it got dark. The lights on our house must have been on a timer, because the front door and porch lights came on every evening by themselves. Norwegians also don’t seem to mind that others can see inside their house. No one closes curtains at night, but instead let the light of the house spill out. In fact, most houses hang a single light in each window. It reminds me of the old Christmas tradition of putting a lit candle in each window. I guess the lights would make me feel better in Nov-Jan when the sun never really comes up.