Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

For WOMPO: A bit about Bodø, Norway and how I got here…

I moved here in 2001 after two years living on the Big Island of Hawaii, where I moved with my then husband and two small children with the express intention of using up the proceeds of our Wisconsin house sale (instead of depositing it into our non-existent savings account) in order to challenge the idea of what it meant to be a reasonable and alive forty-year-old. Money ran out just about the time it became clear that Hawaii, even with a Waldorf school and many resemblances to paradise, was not a place to raise and educate children, on about to enter first grade and one about to enter middle school. Besides, the first thought I had when arriving in Hawaii (we moved there sight unseen) was: if you think this is beautiful you haven’t seen northern Norway.

We bought a house over the Internet that fit my criteria of having a view of the landscape I find so beautiful. My five-year-old would stand looking over my shoulder as I clicked through real estate listings. She commented, “They have a beautiful picture on the wall!” so many times that I finally realized what she meant. “Those are windows,” I said. “That is what Norway looks like through the window.” She peered at the screen, planted her hands on her hips and told me I was wrong, those were paintings.

After we got here I wrote an article for Faces magazine (they do features on geographical regions of the world for school age children) about a child’s life in Norway. In there I recount the time this daughter came home from a classmate’s birthday party. Instead of mentioning the games or cake or presents as she jumped into the car, she said, “Mamma, you should have seen their view!”

I live here because I think it is beautiful, I have a job I love, and Norway is a kind and generous socialist society that I find to be more humane than my alternative, which is to live in the US. The cost of living is high and my income started out lower than it would have been in the US, but on the balance the peace of mind and quality of life is so much higher in Norway that I feel it is a privilege to be able to live here.

Despite Bodø being at the 67th parallel, half of Norway lies to the North of us. We are relatively close to the North Pole, but the Gulf Stream keeps the coastline habitable. We have daylight around the clock from late May to late August, but the sun is over the horizon for about half that time. The sun moves in a manic circle overhead, spiraling ever higher until the solstice, when it begins its manic spiraling descent.

We have darkness from November to January. At our house we get our first glimpse of the sun over the mountains, if we are lucky and the sky is clear, on January 13th. That glimpse lasts maybe ten seconds. The next day a few seconds more, and so on. We only have what would be called normal days and nights for a month or so in the spring and autumn. In short, the sun is rather manic-depressive, and we live at its whim and fancy, hardly sleeping in the summer months, and using Philips Brite Lights to stave off winter depression.

In Norway the king of the forest is the Great Moose, whom we duly fear while walking the dog, and the Sami herd reindeer in the environs. Our local mascot is the Sea Eagle, which is frequently seen circling over this city of 50,000. No polar bears on mainland Norway 🙂

 

4 comments on “For WOMPO: A bit about Bodø, Norway and how I got here…

  1. Carole Besharah
    24/07/2014

    Such a brave move! I hope to visit Norway someday. Sounds beautiful.

    • Rasma Haidri
      29/07/2014

      Thank you, it is beautiful, if there was bravery it was in admitting it was what I wanted.

  2. thebookgator
    29/07/2014

    Hello, former Madisonian. Sounds like you’ve been trying out the Wisconsin climate extremes in their pure form.

    • Rasma Haidri
      29/07/2014

      Ah, much much colder in Wisconsin than here in the Arctic, and much less humid in Hawaii than in Wisconsin. Madison has wonderful things to offer (book shops and poetry readings galore at the time I lived there) but we ex-Madisonians will agree the climate is not one.

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