On Monday night, my husband and I were watching a show on TV when I glanced out the window:
Me: WOW! Check it out! It’s 11 o’ clock at night and the sky is still light!
Husband: Yup. (Not even looking out.)
Me: Isn’t that so cool!?! WOW! Look!!
(Quickly text 10 friends in Canada with photo and multiple exclamation marks!!!)
Husband: Ya, I know, honey. I’ve lived in Norway my whole life.
To my husband’s credit, I have said a version of this same comment every single night since I got back from Canada three weeks ago (and every time I have visited in the spring). It started as “WOW! It’s 10 o’clock and the sky is still light!” and has progressed steadily, minute by minute, each evening. You’d think the awe might wear off after a couple weeks. Nope. Not even close.
Growing up in Canada, we have long summer nights. But Norway takes long and light to a whole new level. We live in Oslo, which doesn’t have the “midnight sun” (like they do in the north of the country) but, trust me, it’s still a light extravaganza down here in the “south”.
A “Norway Times” reader, who is also a Canadian now living in Norway, (hi Barb!), recently commented to me that she hasn’t gone to sleep while it’s still light out since she was 8 years old. But she does now. And it feels pretty weird as an adult.
My problem is that I just can’t do it. I really struggle to go to sleep while it still seems so day-ish outside. The light is the issue, of course. But it isn’t just that it’s light (curtains could solve that issue). It is the fact that the light tells your body it’s time to do stuff. Get outside! Play! This may seem obvious, I know, but until you’ve experienced it, it is quite hard to describe. Keep in mind too, that if you end up staying up really late (as I have been), it also starts to get light again by just after 3 o’ clock, so sleep deprivation is imminent. I feel like I’m conducting some kind of science experiment with my body.
Of course the winter is the opposite, I could (and would on occasion) sleep 12 hours in a night. Again, I am used to winter’s being dark. But I am not used to looking out the window at 10:00 in the morning and it is still barely light out. The saving grace is that Norwegian’s love candles so cold and dark becomes cozy and warm.
Given these long, dark winters, when spring does finally hit, the Norwegians are ready to head outdoors. And when I say “ready”, I mean “we’re not coming back inside until October, dammit!”. It’s that kind of “ready” that goes on around here. It’s like the runners at the start of a marathon – jumping up and down, stretching, ready for the cue to start.
“Let us OUT!!”, you can almost here the Nordic population scream.
As my husband says, “summer is for being awake. You can sleep in the winter”. It’s an interesting theory, but I am not sure I totally buy it. It seems to be a common train of thought in this land. I am gonna see how it goes. By September, I might be out of my mind, but it’ll be worth it. Right? I can repair my sanity in the dark days of winter. Or is that when we go really insane? Maybe this explains why Norwegians can be quite reserved. They are just constantly trying to silently repair their state of mind.
And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to get out and enjoy these days? However, I have noticed, among Norwegians, that there is a different kind of urgency (to put it mildly) about enjoying the sun and warmth. I was talking about this with my friend (you know: The One – let’s call her “S”. She comes from New York), and we were relating to a common occurrence with both of our husbands, as of late. We have had basically the exact some conversations. The scenario is that our husbands get home from work, to their respective homes, and we happen to be inside. It is a sunny spring day.
Husband(s): What are you doing inside?!?! It’s sunny and warm out!!
Me (and/or S): Oh, I was outside. I just came inside for a minute to… (and here you can you use your imagination to fill in the rest: get a drink, get a snack, do some work, answer some emails, go pee, wander around a bit, contemplate our new lives…).
Husband(s): What!? NO! You have to get outside. Summer is short here. YOU HAVE TO BE OUTSIDE!
Me (and/or S): Umm. Ok.
Thoroughly shamed, and somewhat bewildered, we slink outside.
It’s some kind of serious meteorological peer pressure.
And, again, for fear of backlash from you reading this: I am not complaining. I LOVE being outside in the nice weather. Really, guys, I do! But the intense pressure to do so in this new land is something remarkable. Will I secretly start praying for rainy days so I can hang out inside? (I can hear you all panicking already, Norwegian readers. I promise I won’t.)
The irony of all this is that my husband and I just moved into our new house on Wednesday (June 1st) during what has been THE sunniest, hottest week I have ever experienced in Norway – up to 30 degrees (that’s Celsius my Yankee buds). These are apparently record temps for this time of year. And it may well be the nicest weather we have the whole summer. Norway can be raining and cool any time in this season. Cooler weather is coming next week and the north of Norway will only be just above zero degrees and could get snow. That’s not unheard of for this time of year.
But back to this week: We moved in on Wednesday and these last days have been beautiful! Of course, ideally we would be enjoying every moment outdoors, but you know what it’s like to move – there are piles and piles of (those creepy looking) boxes that are begging to be unpacked. Given that we have never lived in a house before, we have also bought new stuff that needs to be assembled. Priorities as they are, we had our new BBQ bought before a bed or a sofa.
My husband took these last 3 days off work so we could get a bit settled and enjoy the house. You can imagine the Norwegian angst that he is experiencing having to be inside for a good portion of these magical warm days. I think it’s creating some kind of subconscious fear of missing out. It’s like FOMO (fear of missing out) but with an OANW added: FOMOOANW – fear of missing out on amazing Norwegian weather.
We spent 2 hours today (in the middle of the day) buying garden furniture. Again, the irony wasn’t lost on us that we might be inside, buying furniture for outside, on the nicest day of the year. But we’ll be ready for any and all sunny days ahead! (Cue the rain and cold wind.)
So, friends, that’s it for this week’s tales of Nordic adventure. I better get back to my piles of boxes. I also have to make several phone calls (regarding furniture delivery, internet set up, etc etc) and those in itself are some serious work. The calls tend to start in Norwegian, and then progress to English (as I get steadily more and more lost), and then they often end with me making some (unsolicited) suggestion of how their customer service could be improved.
Let’s be honest, North American’s may have their annoying traits, but we know how to serve a customer – perhaps even to a fault (I agree that no one really needs the waitstaff to introduce themselves and tell you their life story before taking a drink order).
My husband remarked today (after hearing my email to Weber Grills) that I have taken it upon myself to single-handedly revolutionize customer service in Norway. He may be right. I will tell you more about my (unwelcome) “teaching moments” another time.
For now, I’m feeling a little FOMOOANW, so I’ll get outside for a moment or two, and then back to boxes. My husband is outside working on “a project”. I have no idea what he is doing but I’m sure it’s somehow related to enjoying this beautiful weather. I love that Norwegian guy. I’m a lucky gal. Maybe I’ll grill him up a hot dog and bring him an “utepils” (outdoor beer – yes there’s a word in Norwegian for that).
Skål! And, if you live in Norway, GET OUTSIDE! NOW! xo