Category Archives: autumn

nomad in vestlandet

hame-heim-home-e October belonged to Norway in autumn gold

Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.

Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig –  could help you a great deal in that way.

Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.

 Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane… 

vestlandet-map

To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.

Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.

Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.

AND what a journey it has been!

From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!

October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…

from-the-slate-table

The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.

There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head.  an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig! 

da-farm red-squirrel-ekorn-at-da-farm-oct-2016-e sunset-in-kvinnherad-oct-2016 And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.

dscn9455 To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.

bergen-at-dusk-e

Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,

oseana-oct-16 I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).

prawn-sandwich glacier-from-oseana The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.

Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen

And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.

fanafjorden And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in

løy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!

To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.

Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!

jolster-1  jolster-2

Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!

sognefjorden

Mighty Sognefjorden

EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.

And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..

Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.

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love story

Histoire d’amour, love story. Last June I flew to Hordaland to be by their side. In nine days’ time I shall return and reconvene with this other side of the sea. I remember François speaking of belonging to the clan. I know I do, and cannot wait to step out of the plane in Bergen. Somehow it begins to feel like a Viking’s  homecoming, hamefarin.

Dear Anita and François, it is on its way to you, and should arrive a day before me. :=)

anita-og-francois Access to the wedding photobook HERE 

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wheel of life

hairst b and w.jpg

September, month of smiles and tears.

Yesterday, I congragated with friends and fellow writers from the Westside as well as the Waas community to say agoodbye to one of us. I loved the way his son spoke of my friend, and the way Janet somewhat managed to conceal some of her grief. The service was very poignant. I, among so many of us, will miss the good doctor who animated our monthly friday nights in Weisdale, as well as the many facets of everyone who was connected to his life. But he lives in our hearts, and his writings testify the life journey of a very brave, adventurous, life and children loving man. Rest in peace, Robin.

September, change of light.talking sky in Hairst.jpg

Weeks fly like lit gun powder; fridays tear down the pages of our almanacs like a develish, untamed child too eager to rid of school days. And the sky follows suite. Little have I noticed sunsets and sunrises shifted on the the great cosmic clock… That daylight had begun to shrink. The island now unveils those autumnal hues.  A more difuse light now clads everything on the island. The sky awaken and talks again.  Whereas swans are starting to flock at Spiggie, others are thinking to go… Northern wheatears, pied wagetails and meadow pipits, together with a few swallows still grace our fence posts, road verges and fields… Though they too will depart from our shores and let others replace them for the darker months ahead.

September, trade of wings. young wheatear.jpg

That juvenile northern wheatear will home itself south of my eyes for a few months, should it survive that great epic maiden flight south. I feel somewhat eager to reconvene with our winter visitors, whilst already marvelling at eclipse or winter plumage from some of our local avian friends. Guillemots certainly are noticeable from Gutters’ Gaet or Bressay Sound.  And if observation feels rather limited during weekdays, the odd visit to harbours, lochs, fields, voes and wicks (bays) rekindles that pleasure.

mute-swans

And as nothing remains the same, September will vanish in flames, and let October take over. With the tenth month, I too will trade land and migrate for precious time to the other side side of he North Sea, as I will reconvene with friends and fjords. That second collection of verse demands so, as my heart does.

With October, the more prominent return of darkness… And the almanac will obey the laws of the universe.

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lumière

sumburgh lightI did not know what to expect.

Extreme Light North based at my favourite headland, Sumburgh Head, and so very aptly at my favourite lighthouse, where a troupe, led by Clare Duffy, has a very precise project.

Performance art instigated at Shetland level by our Shetland Library Reading Champion, playwright & artiste extraordinaire, Jacqui Clark – in which light is celebrated in collaboration with Clare Duffy & her troupe.
On the 18th night of the eight’s month, selected reading of Compass Head were broadcasted to the world via the internet, whilst being recorded in the intimacy of the stone wall with a mic in a cranny…

On a more personal note, Sumburgh Head has a very special place in my heart. The most southerly headland from da Auld Rock, the place where I twice worked as an Assistant Warden for the RSPB in the early 2000s, a place I celebrate as a poet, and share with the rest of the world. A place associated with dreams and adventures. And when I think adventures, RLS springs to my mind like a boomerang. After all, his grandfather has left luminous prints with his family of lighthouse builders! So all in all, it felt a pretty funky night to the wildest audience! Open air poetry reading… Both ethereal and  fab fun!

jacquis balloon writing 18 june 2016

Jacqui Clark & her balloon adventure

With gracious thanks to Jacqui Clark and Lucy for nurturing me at such event.

poet and Lucy

with Lucy from the Extreme Light Project, 18 August 2018

Local actors are preparing with Clare Duffy’s troupe for a very special event. There is an upcoming art performance on the 28 August at Sumburgh Head. Grab a ticket and come along.

It is truly a unique experience and Project in full osmosis 🙂

 

Sumburgh Head, 18 Aug 2016.

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Writer’s Corner 

   
WRITER’S CORNER page updated in time for the season 🙂

Autumn/Winter 2015 


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noir

   “Turn off the light, switch on a starry night…”

Noir, as November might predict. And if winter makes us reflect upon the dead, it is a time for us, living, to remember light in darkness. 

Under that category, the world could feel a frozen garden. Whereas sleet, hail and snow batter the island in a horizontal manner, people fall, cry, fight wherever human bestiality strikes. The horrors of terrorism bear so many faces & masks.   

Humanity feels in a state of emergency. 

Our planet, our homeworld, our cradle of life, will turn our grave. This is Noir, without fiction. 

Have we forgotten who we are, and where we live?   

Are we missing the boat? Are we too shackled to money to risk such perilous gambling? On reading the French press, we are heading towards our end. 

Noir,

Le Point.fr – COP21 : les lignes rouges des pays-clés dans les négociations.

Tour d’horizon des points de blocage pour chacun des pays les plus influents pour la conclusion d’un accord sur le climat à Paris.

Le Point newspaper reads noir. As if we were doomed like the lost civilisations who were incapable to save themselves in ancient times. It tastes rotten deep in my heart. Maybe a handful of humans are solely blindly driven by greed and are prepared to take that road. Gosh,  how selfish and masochistic. Do they know there is no way back, and nowhere else to go? This alone would feel a crime against humanity.

   

Talking of crime, Shetland hosted its first literary Noir Festival in November, as part of Iceland Noir.

   For a weekend, selected authors gathered at Mareel, and shared with the public. Helmed by friend & fellow Westside Writer Marsali Taylor, we grabbed the oar and added a rivet to clinker by launching our unique noir anthology, as part of a book launch event shared with Marsali’s latest crime fiction opus. On a more personal note, and with the Beyrout & Paris shootings in the backdrop, it felt a very strange weekend.  

Noir as man’s brilliance & blindness. 

Noir is a path I do not like by nature. It feels sordid and dangerous.

When I think Noir, movies like Sir Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner & Luc Besson’s (satyrical) Fifth Element come to my mind. 

I can only hope we are not heading into total blackness. 

Hello, Earth 

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solidarity

It takes courage to speak out loud from the tip of an island.
Who are we to raise voices when all seems fine? Or is it? For years on end, people flee wars, in an attempt to save their lives. For months on end, the wheel of news feed us garbage—  by this, I insist on political spoon feeding on TV screens and newspapers… Where viewers and readers are bombarded with highly controlled news, (namely “intox”)
And then, it takes one image, one single shot of a toddler by the edge of the sea. The ball’s rolling.
For the second time, my pen responded to a world scale crisis. Call me an idealist (or a dreamer), but nobody wants to find themselves fleeing from war zones, or hanging between life and death at some railings by a frontier or a headland… Or a tunnel.
To this effect,
I was solicited to write and share verse, by friend & event coordinator, Wendy Sinclair, a month ago. The event, “Solidarity Through Music”, took place on Saturday 24 October 2015 in Lerwick, and gathered a palette of amazing local talent – including The Donald Anderson Band, Lisa Ward and The Dirty Lemons to name but a few – among which I, the only poet, was invited to perform.
Always daunting when in a crowd of musicians! Yet I rose to the challenge. …After all, performing among musicians, bands, is turning a kind of habit, since Open Mic Nights at Mareel Café feature mostly the sung voice.

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What an experience! The atmosphere was fantastic. The audience turned up in good numbers (by Shetland standards) through the eight-hour entertainment marathon, gave generously through applause and money. Today, I learnt that the event raised over £1000.00 in donations and raffle ticketing… It may not read very impressive, however, it adds to the continuous generosity of island folk when it comes to humanitarian crisis. Already, folk have donated in kind – shoes, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, etc. – earlier on in the year, in an effort to help the stranded  refugees by Calais.
Shetland Supporta Refugees is well active.

Here, my humble contribution to the effort, through two stand-alone pieces, The Rift and One World, One Tribe.
Am a humanist with a pen, and so happy to contribute to such event. With renewed thanks to Wendy for including my work among the day, as well as to Alan McKay for the introduction.

We may live on the fringe of a troubled continent, but we listen to world distress.

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