A summer is coming to an end. Lazy days with no agenda apart from existing. I enjoy blue and gray days at Utvær, an island paradise in the ocean outside Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjord.
I sit on the pier of the tiny fishing village, sketching and observing. The smell of sea. The occational sunbeam warming my face.
Below the pier a magical universe appears. The wonky and colorful boat houses reflects in the calm waters, creating swirls, curves and dots of color, constantly changing and dancing around each other and endlessly creating new combinations of shapes. Something familiar becoming something strange, but still with the flavor of the everyday objects they reflect and that are so familiar.
I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed – John Green, The fault in our stars, p.223
This fence frames the famous bright red lighthouse at Utvær. It has stood there, collecting moist sea air and moss, and seen it all unfold around it, like the ocean mine that exploded there during the second world war, breaking all the glass windows on the island. And the fishermen, rowing out in their boats, catching cods and pollocks by hand for generations.
It reminds me of another witness; A huge birch tree next to my childhood home was taken down this summer. It must have been over a hundred years old. It was a beautiful tree, a thick, white trunk, a full crown of healthy leaves. I remember the sound of their rustling, from my old bedroom as a little girl. The birch tree would have been there before there were any buildings surrounding it, before my family arrived at the area I consider my roots to be. It would have seen the first house getting built in front of it. One season after the other, witnessing life unfold underneath it, and life coming to an end, like the death of Jakob, my grand uncle.
I remember best his smiley eyes, and that he used to make us white loaf slices with butter and sugar. Jakob was borne in that first house, he lived there all his life with his two sisters, and at the age of 87, he fell to the ground with an axe in his hand, his heart stopped while caring for the surrounding forest, which became impenetrable in the years after his death. I remember walking back from school that day, on the path winding through the same forest. They had put a brown blanket over him, whilst waiting for the doctor to arrive, but a few strands of white hair had escaped, and were waving softly the the wind. Not 20 meters away, the old birch tree was rustling it’s leaves, caught in the same breeze. An image that sits only somewhere in my mind, these were the days before smartphones.
Today this is 25 years ago. Another image, connecting this memory, July 2016: a chainsaw started up with a cough. Green leaves were still creating a sparkly spectacle in the mild summer breeze. As the chainsaw stopped, and what seemed like slow motion, the monumental tree body fell, for the last time having a splendid view across the micro society it had been guarding through a hundred years. With a thump it landed on the grassy ground, revealing the sunny sparkle of the newly exposed ocean view instead. I felt as if I had witnessed something grand. The death of the oldest family member. A moment in time, containing a hundred years of micro moments, more then there were leaves in the big tree.
In the least expected place, beauty will emerge, windows to a parallel universe, maybe just in brief moments in time, strangeness coexisting with the forms that has conceptual meaning or a purpose to us, or rather, giving us rare connections to glimpse something bigger. (Nope, I am not religious, but you must still be at awe with Corinthians 13 🙂
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. – Corinthians 13
There was something inside yourself, that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society – David Bowie – How to be authentic
In the reflections, in the moment of an old, falling tree, through a moldy fence framing a lighthouse, i become a witness. As the summer goes on, I am becoming more obsessed with this parallel shadow world, and by expressing it, I find my way to coexist with everything. They are whispers to the noticed universe; I see you!