Kristine and I are invited to spend a night in the mythical hamlet of Vikebygb, a place I'm pretty sure I am making up, as no one either in or outside Norway has ever heard of it.
The village is rural, rural, rual Scandinavia, where ingredients for your omelet come from "the egg lady," rather than the local market; 15km away via windy roads. (motto: "Low selection, High prices!")
|Vikebygb, Norway by the fjord|
I'm given a tour of the immaculate garden; Cherry, apple, and pear trees, black and red currants, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry bushes, almost any fruit which can be grown in this climate Egil cultivates. If you're hungry feel free to grab what you like off the branch. It's all in season, and positively delicious.
|this beautiful cat was as friendly as most dogs, following me around|
from place to place and purring whenever rubbed
I'm taken inside the house, where Egil shows me a practical solution for the kilos and kilos of fruit he harvests- jar upon jar of black currant jam made yesterday are stacked upon another. Previous harvests have already been given away to friends.
A lesson in organic jelly and jam making in Vikebygd, Norway
Egil describes the pleasure of cultivating his garden, how relaxing he finds it, the hours he spends creating his fruit preserves. Contrast this with the fact that he's a senior partner and CEO of a financial services firm which has billions of dollars under management.
The man can afford just about anything, but chooses to spend his time on the simpler things in life.
I believe such an attitude is far more common in Scandinavia than America, especially in our big cities where many perceive a pressure to distinguish themselves, a display of power often manifesting in high priced autos, mansions, and fancy watches frequently purchased on credit. The ego, never satisfied with what you have, always demanding more.
Throughout human history ego acted as a double edged sword, both a catalyst behind flourishing civilizations and our ever advancing technology, as well as being the predominant reason behind most of society's ills; grievances, jealousy, and war.
For the individual, the ability to enjoy the moment, to be at peace with whatever is going on, with the wealth of technology and abundance we have today, which Norway is a prime example of, is far healthier than constantly needing to "be more."
In all of Scandinavia, showing off, presenting yourself as superior in any way, is heavily frowned upon, with major social repercussions. I'm certain this is the partly the reason why the region feels much more chill, even their big cities, than places like LA or Paris.
|Egil in jam preparation|
While Egil continues with his jams, the women take me to visit their friend in the neighboring village (half an hour away.) Astrid is the youngest 73 year old I've ever met, with energy to spare.
My Norweigen friend Astrid with energy and a terrific sense of humor explains how to use a 100 year old toilet
Sipping a cup of tea, I enjoy listening to the hens clucking away excitedly in Norwegian. .
An hour or so, we're in the car, driving back around the fjord, arriving home without incident. Kristine gets under the covers, and nods off instantly, while I stay awake listening to the sounds of the countryside. For a guy from Los Angeles, I find silence to be an incredibly moving symphony.