Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap airfare. I’ve got to fly to St. Somewhere, I’m close to bodily harm…

That’s from Jimmy Buffett’s Boat Drinks, a song that instantly transports me to the land of sunshine, wind on the water, and a criminally under-developed sense of personal responsibility.  It wasn’t until we moved to Norway and experienced long northern European winters first-hand that I gained a full appreciation for “This mornin’, I shot six holes in my freezer.  I think I got cabin fever, somebody sound the alarm”.  The sun may not come out to play for weeks on end, only to suddenly pounce and sear the retinas like a Class 4 laser.  The oppressive cold seeps into your bones, until you scurry like startled cockroaches from errand to errand whenever you absolutely must go outside.  Nights at home are dominated by comfort food, couch-camping, and fervent worship of Television Almighty.  If the grocery stores should fail to open for two days, I fully expect my neighbors to enthusiastically take up canibalism.  Times like these, St. Anywhere would be a good alternative!  You study old vacation photographs obsessively, desperately trying to remember the taste of warm sunshine.  Holiday packages anywhere south of the equator get intense scrutiny, and your standards for personal safety plummet (sure, they call them “warlords”, but is it really worse than Jersey? ).  In the end, it becomes like most trying times: bear what you must, live in the moments cherishing the good times, and know that there’s a better day a-comin’.  The image below is one of those that are lovingly pressed to the heart…a warm summer day hiking above the Aurlandsfjorden in Norway, wonderful friends, and sunshine on my shoulder.  (18 August, 2011  Aurland, Norway)

They retire when they’re twenty, with a house on the fjord…

That’s a line from a Dan Reeder song, and he’s referring to the great good fortune Norwegians enjoy living in such a beautiful and wealthy country.  Dan’s an American guy, married and pursuing the artist’s dream in Germany.  He built his own instruments and mixing board himself from junk, plays all instruments and multi-tracks all vocals on songs that he wrote for his self-produced albums…and oh yeah, all the cover art is by him too, since his day job is as a painter of the arty variety.  He says he “plays music because there are some things you can’t paint”.  You ask, “but what about the songs”?  Clever, catchy, smart, funny…I can’t think of an unflattering adjective that applies.  The singer John Prine was given a tape of some of his songs, and enjoyed it so much that he signed him to the Oh Boy label and has released three of his CDs so far.  So much talent in one guy ought to be unfair!  I shot the image below while hiking with friends from the Sogne fjord to the Aurland lookout, with Reeder’s witty take on Norway running through my head.  I’d suggest checking out both Norway and Dan’s music, preferably at the same time.  (18 August, 2011  Aurland, Norway)