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)
Sometimes being up and about early in the day isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you, though probably if it’s a case of “still up” you will be rethinking your game plan eventually. The song by the Eagles spoke about that low-down feeling that can make a boy go for the cactus juice, but I find the drink of the same name to be a fine thing in moderation. The image below was shot at about nine in the morning at the Lysaker Brygge near Oslo…dawn comes late in these northern climes. (10 December, 2010 Lysaker, Norway).
Traditionally, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will stand on the balcony of his or her room in Olso’s Grand Hotel and wave to the passing torchlight parade that honors the recipient. It was a little different in December of 2010, as Liu Xiaobo was still in prison in China for being a meddlesome troublemaker…that can be a serious crime in China. In his stead we had a photo of Liu projected onto the side of the Grand Hotel courtesy of Amnesty International. (10 December, 2010 Oslo, Norway)