On summer nights it is easy to forget that we are barely below the Arctic circle. That just six months ago the day was less than 6 hours long on Helsinki latitude, and not many minutes longer on Oslo latitude. That the Oslo fjord was frozen, Holmenkollen ski jumps busy with daredevils, and there were no ice cream stands and flower arrangements on Aker Brygge.
The Nordic summer is short and bright, and the Nordic people live, live, live through the summer to sleep, sleep, sleep through the winter. There is no in-between. It is do or die, and on this summer night we did do: a splendid sunset dinner on Tjuvholmen.
And what a surprise when the hotel key fit the Arctic Room at the Ladies’ Floor of the Grand Hotel. There were reindeer hides and horns, a dream catcher on the wall, and Sami yoik music in the CD player. There were the lovely Sami poet Nils Aslak Valkeapää’s writings waiting by my bedside. Sleep swept me away and I did not even have the time to count the reindeer on the wall.
the landis differentwhen you have lived therewandered
seen the sunset risedisappear return
the land is differentwhen you knowhere arerootsancestors
(Nils Aslak Valkeapää)
(Oslo, Norway; June 2015)