I love trees – the shade they give, the colours they show and the sound they make in the wind. But, we have autumn in Norway. The leaves falling off the trees is definitely strange to me. They look burnt and when the wind blows the crispy yellows and reds fall to the ground and only a shadow of a tree is left. The trees seem dead and I miss them in all their summer glory. In the distance, they are black against the mountain snow, like an old man’s bristly beard. It won’t be until May next year that I will see my old friends come alive again.
I always hear about the depression that affects people living in the Arctic. It is the darkness that seeps into people’s spirits. Immigrants seem to get very worried about this, scared to not be able to see the sun, and scared that the cold will get the better of them. The bare trees is the start of a very hard winter.
Norwegians I have spoken to see things differently. The trees are certainly not dead, they are just preparing themselves. The darkness is coming and soon a fluffy, white blanket will be over them. They will be warm and comfy as they sleep through the long winter.
I asked one of my Norwegian friends if she gets sad during the winters. ‘Of course not’, she smiled, ‘it’s a time of rest. We work hard all summer, herding sheep, planting fields and collecting berries. In the winter we rest. We eat good hearty food, sit by the fire with friends and family, and have peace. It’s a time to be renewed.’ How lovely! Suddenly, I felt envious–I wanted her point of view.
This year, as I watch the trees falling a sleep, I’m thinking about the great comfort food I will be eating and the warm company I will be sharing. With a Norwegian’s perspective on the long winters, I am definitely looking forward to the great slumber.