musings of a meanderer

The traditional Norwegian farm where I am volunteering.
The traditional Norwegian farm where I am volunteering.

I spent a few childhood summers roaming the pastures of my grandparents farm with my brother and sister. We used to entertain ourselves by flinging manure from the freshest cow pies at each other, daring one another to touch the fence, just to see if it was electric (which they were, more often than not), jumping from the highest bale of hay stacked in the barn, and sitting on top of the pasture gate, our whole bodies tingling from the thrill of being that much closer to the mean, horned bull. I once found a list of daily activities I wrote in my journal the summer of 1991 on the farm: read, play outside, eat, rest/relax, play outside.

I’ve been living on a beautiful farm in Norway for five days now, and as per usual, my brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around my second full lifestyle change. My eyes are open, my ears are listening, my mouth is closed and my brain is on pause. If I were to make a list of daily activities today, it would closely resemble the one I made when I was ten: feed the chickens, clean the coops, eat, read, yoga, hike, explore, write.

Biking back uphill from town on an old one speed mountain bike.
Biking back uphill from town on an old one speed mountain bike.

In the spirit of making lists, here’s one of things zigzagging across my out-of-focus brain:

1. I spent the last two months drifting off to sleep to a beautiful goodnight husky howl. Now I wake up every morning to the bellowing of Norwegian cows, bawking chickens, cock-a-doodle-doing roosters and quacking ducks. All at once. It is sort of incredible, but at the same time it sounds like an unorganized orchestra in desperate need of a conductor.

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In yo face. Literally.

2. All education in both Finland and Norway (amongst other countries) is free. This includes higher education. All people, regardless of ethnicity, financial wealth, social status, you name it…all people have equal access to education if they want it. Instead of sending off young doctors, lawyers, teachers and philosophers into the world with crippling debt, they release them into society with a clean slate, giving them a chance to build a life that doesn’t start with digging themselves out of their deep money hole, armed with a degree they probably won’t even use. Doesn’t that sound nice? I say, peering up from the bottom of my own pit.

I am the blue dot.
I am the blue dot.

3. I am obsessed with reading. Ever since I can remember, books and more books made the top of any Christmas or birthday wish list. Yes, I am a huge nerd. And for the first time in eight years, I feel like I can read a book, guilt free. I’m not thinking about the work I should be doing, or the house I should be cleaning, or the socializing that is happening without me. I am not worried about the hours passing by or the world turning around me. I just read. Because “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ Jojen in George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons. So I read the entire Game of Thrones series to avoid Facebook spoilers since I have no access to HBO. Now I know what happens through book five and that knowledge makes me very powerful.

Helpful trail markers telling me nothing.
Helpful trail markers telling me nothing. When I got to Rørvik Heia, I read for an hour, enjoying the beautiful view.

4. Feeding ducks, chickens, geese and turkeys is actually quite similar to feeding huskies. Turns out, everyone gets pretty excited about food. Only this feeding frenzy involves less tail wagging and running in circles, and way more clucking, waddling and feather fluffing.

One of many homes for the  feathered residents.
One of many homes for the feathered residents.

5. Once when I was FaceTiming with my sister in Finland, my face pressed next to Ivan’s fluffy one as he yawned, showing off his pearly white fangs, she asked me if I was ever afraid of the dogs. Nope. Never. But I am strangely terrified of a few feathered friends on this farm. I am currently fighting two full-out battles, one with Badass Turkey, the other with Mean Goose. Michelle told me a goose once drowned a man in Chicago. A few weeks ago I would have thought that sounded ridiculous. Now I totally believe it. Mean Goose actually hisses at me when I walk by, waddling toward me like he means to snap my pants off. Then he turns his head and glares at me out of his evil eye. I’ve resorted to making faces and hissing back, telling him how much he doesn’t scare me, after I am safely on the other side of the gate. And Badass Turkey is smart, but I am a little smarter. I have to lure him out of his cage so I can clean it, and by lure, I mean he just makes a beeline for me, hoping to peck my eyes out, and quickly I jump out of reach and run inside the cage. I won’t embarrass myself by explaining my exit strategy. But it’s only a matter of time before he figures me out. And then I am screwed. And possibly dead.

Mean Goose with his side eye, and a nice one at that. I would get him in his hissing stage, but I'm too afraid to take my eyes off him then.
Mean Goose with his not-so-evil-at-the-moment side eye. I would get him in his hissing stage, but I’m too afraid for my life then.
Badass Turkey. He's huge.
Badass Turkey. He’s huge.

6. It’s funny how composting, eating local and eating organic is part of the hipster trend in America, but here it’s just life. There isn’t another way. It is the only way. And it’s a good way.

Tiny cows.
Tiny cows.

7. Sooooo, I’ve taken more selfies in the past three months than I care to admit. But let me explain. When you travel with friends, you always have that person you can relive the experience with, that person who understands and relates. But now it’s just me. And I can talk about my experience and the things I’ve seen, but when this is all done, I almost need that photo of myself in the moment, to prove to myself I was actually there, in that beautiful far away place, long ago. So I apologize for any selfies that make it public.

Pretty sure this doesn't qualify as a selfie.
My reward after I got lost hiking. Fjord and view of Kvinesdal (I think). And yes, I know this isn’t technically a selfie.

8. Norway is a breathtakingly beautiful country.

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View from the road, just a little ways up from the farm.
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View biking down into Kvinesdal.

8 Comments on “musings of a meanderer

  1. Love your dad’s comments! Your blog is fantastic. You have me to reminisce about Finland! I’ll never get sick of talking about huskies! I am still driving everyone crazy with husky talk! haha Norway is gorgeous! I’ve been dreaming about hiking there for years…need to get on it 🙂

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    • 🙂 I looked into Troll’s Tongue – isn’t passable until mid June which is a huge bummer. Guess I’ll have to come back!

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  2. With all due respect to your wonderful writing, Tosh, your dad’s comments may have been the best thing I’ve read on the internet in a long long time. I suddenly feel more prepared to take on whatever life throws at me…..including attacking geese/turkeys.

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    • Ha, yeah he’s kind of the best. I did have a little more courage thinking about Badass Turkey’s tiny brain as he tried to corner me this morning.

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  3. Sounds like you are finding your way back to your roots. Remember you were born on a full time dairy farm and spent the first four years of your life there. Wow that seems like yesterday, remember those great 3 yr old & 4yr old events?
    About that goose, his job is to protect the other geese, any farm that raises geese/chickens has a protector. Just like the main rooster, his job is to attack everyone or everything thing that he deems a threat. If The Goose is given the chance he’ll grab you with his beak/bill and slap you silly with his wings. Because his method of attack leaves him vulnerable I text you a good defense mechanism.
    The turkey will use his spurs and they can hurt as well. Best defense of an attacking turkey, thats why we have Thanksgiving,,, Just remind yourself his entire brain is nestled between his eyes, pretty small area, leaves only enough room/functioning to react, very little reasoning or thought goes into their battle plan. I have confidence in you Tosha, you’ll win the war of Brains…

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Talk to me, Goose.

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