Saturday, November 9, 2013

The "Dark" Side of Bergen Farm Life

The title of this post is quite literal.  Winter is here, and it is DARK.  It is not my first winter in Norway, but it is my first at the farm.  Last year, I thought it was dark in the city, but I had no idea what it could be like in the country.  Here are a few of the new things I have discovered about the Dark winters at the farm so far...

Morning over the mountain (8:00)

1. The Dark Walk
A working weekday...
It's 6:45am.  My car is still broken and I have to be at work at 8:15.  It is pitch black outside and raining sideways.  It's so dark that I have to check my phone again to make sure I set the time correctly.  Yep.  So, it's a 20 minute walk down to the bus, then an hour long ride into work.  The walk down Bogetveit hill is about one km and steep downhill. There are street lights that give just enough light to see the street, but not quite enough to see into the forest that lies on both sides of the street.  There is no telling what is in those trees.  Most days, it is raining and you can hear the creek rushing while walking down. Most mornings, it is scary..but also oddly calming and beautiful.
An evening walk home...
It starts getting dark around 5:30, so most nights after tutoring (around 6:30), it is beyond dark.  Walking up the hill in the dark is the same as going down, except it is a hike, UP hill to the farm.  Man, it feels fantastic to get inside where the fire is burning and the house is warm!

Walking to the bus in the dark morning

The view of the street while walking down the hill

2. Dressing for dark winter
Like I said, most days it is raining, and the Norwegian saying is true "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing".  If you can dress properly, you can feel comfortable walking through any amount of rain.   So, to prepare for the rain, I put on rain pants (or snow pants), a wool sweater, a scarf, a warm jacket covered with a rain jacket, my backpack covered with a rain proof bag jacket and of course rain boots.  I haven't figured out how to protect my face from the sideways rain...I think ski goggles might be a little extreme.  You can imagine that this is all very attractive:)
Dressing for a trip into town

This used to be my snowboarding outfit

Dressing for the rain is not the end of it.  You also must prepare for the dark.  REFLEX are well known pieces of your wardrobe in Norway.  They are similar to slap bracelets I used to have as a kid.  There are also cute attachable reflexes (I have an owl and a ghost).  I have a slap reflex on one arm, a hanging owl on my jacket and my ghost on my backpack.  With all of this, any car is sure to spot me while walking down the hill.  In addition to this, I have my flashlight safely tucked away in my bag, in the event of any broken street lights or dark passageways...

My owl relex
My ghost reflex

2. Dark winter weather
Last night I woke up about 5 times.  I couldn't figure out what it was then finally realized it was the LOUD wind and rain banging on my window.  This old house creaks and shakes, and it is not delightful at 2am (and especially not after a scary movie!)  When you look out the window, you can't see anything but darkness.  The light from the inside the house reflects the water dripping down the windows outside.  On a very rainy day, it reminds me of being in one huge car wash.  Sometimes, Isra and I shine the flashlight out the window to see a little better.  On the "bright" side, when there is no rain and you go outside, you can see more stars than I ever knew possible and it is beautiful!

3. Social life
Regardless of how positive a person you are, I think the dark, cold weather makes life a little slower, quieter and darker.  I consider myself to be a very positive person, but I can see the dark making me drowsy and a little lazier.  By 8pm, it has been dark for a few hours already and I always think it is close to bedtime.  It is extremely difficult to get up in the morning and leave the house when it is still dark as night outside.  And getting dressed to go downtown when it feels like you should be getting into bed is not an easy task.
The mix of the hour long trek into downtown and the dark weather make it difficult to be social in the winter months.  I LOVE the feeling of living away from the city in a calm and peaceful place, but it makes it very challenging to be a social butterfly.  I certainly have a hard time making the long trip for a coffee visit or lunch with friends.  Any outing is an adventure, which includes dressing for the weather, a hike, and a 2 hour travel time (round trip).
I won't hesitate in saying that I really hope my car can be repaired so it might get a little easier in the next few dark months...

Looking out the bus window

4. Cozy, dark nights
Koselig (def: cozy) is a very commonly used word in Norwegian, and I think I know why.  The dark weather mixed with the rain/hail/wind/sleet/snow make staying inside cozy all the time.  Add a fireplace, a comfy couch, a blanket, warm socks, a movie and a boyfriend, and you have everything you need to have the perfect definition of cozy.  After a long day of work, nothing feels better than sitting on the couch with all of the above and watching a movie before bed.

Our fireplace

My view almost every night...

Life is an adventure.  I can say without a doubt, every day at the farm is an adventure.  It comes with it's dark side, and can sometimes be a little scary, but in the end is something new, challenging and adventurous.  Come on winter, I'm ready to see what you will bring...

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