The soft, constant murmur of countless waterfalls is the first thing that reminds me where I am when I wake up on the final day. Then, to my delight, I hear bells.
Norwegian hills are riddled with sheep. Even when you’re on a wild mountain, completely off the beaten path, there is a high likelihood that a shepherd has been there before you.
Some of my first childhood memories, traveling around Norway in our red bus, is about chasing sheep over mountain slopes. So when the bells ring, I am flooded by memories of times with family and friends in the mountains.
Ringing bells under braided birch The call of God’s own roofless church Awake to water murmuring And rustling leaves begin to sing My eyes still closed, the walls so thin Every sound of nature invited in I stay in my bed, my ears alive Each sound turning into a memory revived
Two is better
Friendship and family is at the heart of every trek and every cabin stay, and this time is no different.
The final day of this cabin stay with Asbjørn — the Norwegian bear of the mountains — is over, and today is the day of the return.
Soon we’ll pack up, and my trip to my wife and home in Stockholm will commence. Hours of riding back over the mountains to my parents place, then a sleepover, then a lonesome bus ride to Oslo, and a train back to Stockholm.
And the whole trip alone.
Alone versus together, is a topic I could talk about for ages without coming to any sensible conclusion. I love being with people, but sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I hate it, but I need it, so when I do it I love it. So I love it. And sometimes I hate being with people, but then I realize I just hate being with me.
Anyway. Investing in friendship is something that gets more valuable as I age. My relationship to stuff and belongings gets gradually more relaxed, and just sitting down and looking another person in the eye, increases in value. So when I’m drawn between choosing alone, or with a friend — I’ve never regretted choosing the latter.
Let me live, days without end Give me endless gardens to tend Hills to conquer, cliffs to ascend Unchartered road around the bend Give me space to heal and mend Vast views I cannot comprehend Rivers snaking, falls descend Dawn-brought fire to darkness rend But give me none of these If not with a friend
The road goes ever on
As I said, the road finally turns homeward. To Stockholm, alone on a bus and a train. Plenty of time to reflect on this year’s trip to the mountains.
Leaving the mountains behind, we snatched photos from the car. Too many photos — and with little care for each one. There was a time there were it was more of an impulse for me — hey, nice mountain, let me snatch you!
I’ve learned better since this trip. First I had a long time on the opposite side of the pendulum, refusing to even raise the camera to my eye, religiously enjoying the moment. But I soon landed somewhere in between.
There are moments meant for the camera, and they should be captured only when you have time to enjoy the process, and work until you’re satisfied with the results. All the other moments that fly by and are only captured on your retina, those become memories, exclusive to the ones who were on the trip together.
They become another bow that ties the friendship together.
So on we go. To a home that awaits, away from these mountains that always will own a piece of my soul.