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Working it out in the world, and sometimes writing about it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Frozen Fjords in Sogndal

Here's a post from March. I spent three days in a I-can't-believe-this-is-real cabin in a wee town in Norway, and it still remains one of my favorite spots.

I am in a haven of frozen fjords and floating snowflakes in Western Norway. Sogndal, near the Sognefjord, had been my home for the past three days, and I have done not much else besides eat, read, write, and sleep.

View from the windows.
I am every writer’s jealousy. I am sitting at a wooden table that oozes Norwegian kitsch and I am looking out of four huge windows onto the frozen fjord that is a few meters from the cabin. The rain that pounded the cabin for two straight days has yielded to its softer cousin, snow, and I’m watching the easy snowflakes rush towards the window, driven by the unabating wind, like fairies. The wind rattles the cabin, and the bare tree on the west side of the cabin chatters to me with every gust. This is like no place I’ve ever been before.

The cabin is six kilometers from town and about 10 meters from the main road, sheltered by rocks that would be a small cliff, save for the tiny foundation on which the cabin stands. The cabin is about 150 square meters and perfect. There is a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and two bite-sized bedrooms with only room enough for a built-in bed and walking space.

And then there are the windows. The windows in this place are beautiful. In the summer, they must swing open wide with an easy unfastening of the latch and let in the breeze that comes from the fjord via the mountain tops. They let in the light and a bit of the cold, but they are a safe barrier through which to watch the frozen weather outside and the tiny cluster of houses across the way. This morning, a crab washed up on the island of ice right outside the cabin. It lay on its back, and I assumed it was dead. I left for a hike and when I came back an hour later, it was gone. I hope it slipped away silently back into the not-quite freezing water to go about its crab business.

This is a place where I wish some genius writing would pour out of me. I wish this Norwegian table would inspire my fingers to tap out incredible sentences and wise words. But instead, I sit here, drinking my tea, looking out at the coming snow, and try to write something that works. This is as good as it’s gotten since I’ve been here.

This cabin makes me feel guilty for not writing something spectacular. I have the whole place to myself until about 5 PM, and nothing “good” has flowed from my fingers. It’s frustrating to think about the late nights in college I spent clacking away at my Ikea desk and my running shorts still on, holed up in my loud apartment, writing things that I feel are beyond and above me now. I feel like I’ve taken a few steps back.

I can see that part of the problem may be that I’m expecting too much. It feels like if I were to write something brilliant anywhere, it would be here. That would be perfect. But this is just another reminder that my expectations are what cause me disappointment, not the actual situation. The pieces that I’ve written on this trip that I’ve liked so far have been written in a train station and on a bus. Those don’t strike me as very romantic writing spots.

My station.

And so, I think it’s time to let my cabin go for now. I can let it slip back into the ocean of expectations like my crab friend, and it can go about its cabiny business, sitting along a fjord in a frozen winter, pushing back against the wind.

I bet it’s beautiful here in summer.

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