They tell me I’m free, to find someone new. I just don’t have the heart, because I gave mine to you…

Before the discovery of oil, going down to the sea in ships was the best, if not safest, occupation in Norway.  Some people are called by the lure of the sea, while for some it’s simply a question of mouths to feed at home, but fishing checks in as the deadliest occupation worldwide and in almost every country that has a commercial fishery.  For much of its history, the primary occupation for most of Norway’s men was also the most dangerous job in the world… we assume leading to a disproportionately large population of widows.  As the country has been desperately poor for much of its history, this means a lot of poor widows as well.  I think this may contribute to Norwegians’ well-known stoicism.  They have much experience with hard work, loss, and picking yourself up and moving on when tragedy strikes, as it has often for them over the centuries.  These thoughts ran through my mind when I came across this statue on the edge of some woods near Oslo.  I don’t know the artist’s mind, but I see this young woman holding her infant son as a fisherman’s wife, her expression slightly anxious but also resolved.  I imagine her keeping the home fires burning, and dealing with what had to be dealt with if it came, and running through my head is Gary Burr’s song about what happens when you’ve made a promise to someone who’s gone.  (30 August, 2011 Ekebergparken, Oslo, Norway)

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