Like any good Norwegian, I’ve had a tree felled on my head. Much as I’d like to blame all my neuroses on the tree, it was a small tree. I was fine. I fell down, but that was more from the shock. It isn’t every day a tree trunk violently tackles you from behind. Treehuggers don’t know it, but trees are sneaky fuckers.
Apparently watching wood burn in a fireplace is primetime television entertainment in Norway now. I didn’t know, because I don’t own a television. If I were a cynical bastard, which I am, I would say that my choice has been validated.
My grandfather was a logger. He and other macho men felled trees with big duo handsaws. The kind of trees that if they fall on your head, you don’t get personality disorders, your brain goes disorderly all over the forest floor. Later he started working at a dairy factory, then he died, and later still I was born and never met him.
I think I’ve told this story before, but my mother insists that her father had a vardøger. My mom is not a superstitious woman, but she insists. A vardøger is a creature of Norwegian folklore, a kind of friendly doppelgänger who goes before someone and announces their coming. My grandfather would drive a moped to and from work at the dairy factory. Every day around five, his family would hear his moped come puttering up the road. The dog’s ears would perk up. Then they’d hear my grandfather put away the moped in the basement. They’d hear him come up the stairs, but he wouldn’t come in. The whole thing would repeat fifteen minutes later, and my grandfather would come in the door for real.
If it were me, I’d be all up in that basement with white flour and string traps and ghostbusters equipment, but apparently that wasn’t their style. Maybe my grandfather did have a vardøger. Or maybe he was just fucking with them. Every single day for decades. Sounds like something a grandfatherly figure would do.
My grandma still lives in the same house. This photograph was taken from her garden.Feb 21, 2013