The last time I visited the Lofoten Islands in the fall was 34 years ago, at the end of September, 1983. In fact, it was my first trip back to Norway, since emigrating to Canada, in October, 1951.
Unfortunately, the occasion for that trip was not a pleasant one. My parents had moved back to Norway in the fall of 1982 and a year later my mother (Jensine Marie Petersen), was in hospital following a severe stroke.
My sisters, Ann and Randi, and I quickly booked flights and arrived in Norway a couple of days later. Our father picked us up at the Leknes airport and we went directly to the hospital. Mom was in a semi-coma and, over the 10 days or so we were in Norway, some days it was clear that she recognized us, but most days that wasn’t the case. During that trip, when not at the hospital, we met many of our aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time.
I’m often asked if I can speak Norwegian. The answer is yes, but it also deserves some explanation. I don’t remember ever speaking Norwegian, when I was a child; however, as my sisters and I went to school and fit into our new home, our parents spoke to us in Norwegian and we answered in English. Over the years and as we married and had children, our parents didn’t speak Norwegian with us. So, when we flew to Norway that first time, the only thing I could say in Norwegian was, “Kan du snakke Engelsk?” (Translation: Can you speak English?). At one of the small airports we stopped at, I used that phrase on a young baggage counter guy and his answer was, “Hell yeah, I can speak English!” He had gone to school somewhere in the southern US and had the accent down perfectly.
On our 2nd day in Stamsund, our home town, Randi, Ann and I walked up the street to meet onkel Christian and tante Arna. In the hour or so that we visited, the language came back to me and has improved with each visit. Granted, I get a little rusty between trips, although the time between trips recently has been relatively short: 2015, twice last year and now I’m returning on Wednesday, September 20th.
It’s always hard to believe, when I think in blocks of time: 32 years between emigrating and my 1st trip back; now it’s 34 years since that 1st trip! If my count is right, this is the 15th.
This time, I’m going back on my own primarily for fall and, with any luck, Aurora Borealis photography. A Lofoten photographer friend, Hans Melhus, has been posting spectacular Aurora Borealis photos on Facebook for the past couple of weeks and the weather forecast looks very promising for the next week at least. I’ll have the opportunity to do some shooting with Hans as well. Search for him on Facebook to see some stunning photography.
Watch this space between Thursday and October 1st, when I leave Lofoten for a couple of days of visiting cousins, in Oslo, before returning home on the 4th.