Saturday, January 8, 2011


January 8

     We arrived in Oslo a little before noon yesterday (6 am EST), and had a five hour layover before the 5:30 flight to Tromsø. Our friends from Bradenton , FL arrived about 4 (an hour after sunset!), and we made the last flight 90 minute together.

      Our Norwegian host Marit and her sister and their sons and wives all met us at the airport with big WELCOME signs, and we went in two cars to Marit's house in Tromsdalen, and as we pulled up in front of the house her son and grandson were waving torches in greeting, and then touching them to fuses, shooting a volley of brightly colored welcoming fireworks into the air! Marit's house is the last house on a street overlooking the harbor....beautiful in the dark with all the Tromsø
city lights reflecting on the water.

      We were all sitting around in the living room when someone came in with the word that the Aurora were active! Of course we all threw on coats, slipped back into shoes (since you remove your shoes at the door when you come in) and hurried out onto the porch. The aurora were indeed putting on a show;it looked like delicate blue-green curtains hanging from the sky, sinuously billowing, slow-motion in the wind. Constantly moving, brightening, fading away, reappearing close by or some distance away, they entertained us and totally entranced us for perhaps 5-10 minutes, and then became fainter and stopped altogether. What a literally awesome display!
We sat around talking until almost 1 am. The house is very warm, but the bedrooms are kept at only about 50 degrees, so the fluffy douvet covers on the bed were welcome, if icy when first slipping in. By the middle of the night they retained so much body heat that I actually wished that the bedroom itself was colder! I slept soundly until about 7:30 this morning, and now at 8:30 I'm the first one up, sitting again in the living room enjoying the lights on the waters of the harbor below. So far, I'm the only one awake.
     I'm told that much closer to noon the sky does lighten a bit, but of course the sun will not rise above the horizon here until late February. 
      The sky began to get a lot lighter by 9:30, eventually looking like the sun was about to come up in the southeast by noon. The rest of the group was all up by 11:00 am, and Marit put out a big spread of many diffferent kinds of lunch meat that included reindeer salami, flatbread, scrambled eggs, herring, pickled beets, orange juice, coffee, and we all sat around the table for over an hour, just talking. I can tell already that it going to be difficult not to eat too much while we're here!
      Shortly after noon the sky was as bright as it gets, a dark twilight gray, and five of us piled in Marit's car, a Skoda built in Czech Republic, and headed to Sentrum, the town center. Bundled in heavy coats and gloves we were well insulated. We parked nearby, since only pedestrian traffic is allowed. Crowds of strolling shoppers picked their way cautiously along icy sidewalks under festoons of Christmas lights and red lanterns criss crossing the crowded streets, looking for post-Christmas bargains in the brightly lit shops in the quickly fading light. Near the waterfront we stopped for drinks in a cafe where customers were enjoying the flames of the fireplace as much as the warmth of companionship. By 2:30 in the afternoon night had returned.

      By dinner time, Marit's house was full of people. Counting sisters and sons, wives, girlfriends, grandchildren, and guests there were an even dozen at the table for dinner, three huge pans of home cooked pizza.
      At 8 in the evening Marit's sister who lives just down the street, called with an aurora alert, and the seven of us remaing in the house hurried to the entry hall, throwing on heavy coats and slipping into boots in a drill that must have resembled the rush of firemen answering the call to a four alarm fire.
Tonight's display was fainter than the previous night, this time a single narrow band stretching across the whole sky from the crest of the steep mountain ridge behind the house across the harbor and disappearing below the opposite horizon ridge line of the island in the west beyond Tromso. We stood outside for 15 or 20 minutes waiting for it to brighten or show some movement like the dancing aurora of the night before, but eventually they simply faded away.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, It's amazing!!! Wish I had the chance to witness :)