I grew up in a small community, just outside Oslo. At the end of the road from my parent’s house was the fjord and, one way or another, my most intense childhood memories are all about the sea. We were a small gang of friends from the neighbourhood who would go sailing together whenever we had the chance. Mid-water, we would tie our small motor boats together and, while drifting, we would hang out just like city kids on a street corner. All summer, the boys would try to impress us, racing by in their boats or diving from the tallest rocks, doing all sorts of crazy acrobatic tricks in the water. And we would be sitting on the dock by the boat houses, with freckled cheeks, dressed in shorts and nylon swimming suits, laughing and gossiping all day long.



In the winter, the fjord would freeze over, and we would break every rule, and cross the ice on foot to get to a nearby island without our parents knowing about it. The sea was our playground and, although I had immense respect for the power of nature, I do not remember ever being scared of the water. On the contrary, growing up so close to the fjord, and the wooded mountains above it, filled me with a sense of security, and I took to the water without fear or hesitation.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I left Oslo for London to study communications at Goldsmiths and, after my degree, I got a job as a runner in a film production company, and later I worked for a lifestyle magazine. However, as much as my hunger for adventure had drawn me to life in the big city, I never really felt at home. There was always this frustrating ambivalence.





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Each time I reach the ferry berth, I get an immediate sense of tranquility; I breathe more freely, and my mind seems clearer. Blame it on the light that in early spring will cast a supernatural, pink haze over the treetops on the other side of the narrow stretch of water separating the island from the mainland. Or the fact that most often I greet this stunning scenery on a late Friday afternoon, exhausted from a week’s work and longing for a welcome respite from the turbulence of the city. Life slows down at Orø, magically starting with the mere expectation of it while waiting for the ferry to arrive to bring us to our weekend cottage.



It has not always been like that. When my husband and I bought the cottage, it was the run-down holiday retreat of an elderly couple who had never bothered to tend to the garden or mend the roof. The very foundations of the house were rotting away, and the first couple of summer vacations were spent en route between what was supposed to be our very own paradise on Earth and the local builder’s merchant on the mainland. We had to replace everything inside the tiny A-shaped structure of the building, and, though I hated every minute of our endless arguments about the maintenance of the gutters or how we would get the water pump to work, I know now that it has tied us closer to the place. Gradually, we made the house and the surrounding garden our own. We came to know all the little signs of the changing seasons, the loud, terrifying noises of the pines swaying dangerously in the storm, and the true bliss of entering the house to the warmth of the wood-burning stove mingling with the smell of newly brewed coffee.





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