The sense of impending doom hanging heavy on my mind lifted, but only slightly, as I started scrolling through the gorgeous photos. By the time I finished, the sight of those deep-blue Norwegian fjords, flanked by high mountains, their peaks frosty with snow, opened up something in me. But what?
That someday, hopefully someday, I will see that beauty for myself. No more armchair traveling.
For, to be honest, Norway figures heavily in my life. It’s subliminal, I would say. No, I’m not Norwegian, but my DNA does carry in it traces of people from Europe’s extreme north. But I am an honorary Norwegian, according to one of my husband’s cousins, who is definitely Norwegian. My husband’s Norwegian creds come from his mother, whose family boarded a ship named “Sjofna”, probably out of Oslo, as they were from the landlocked Hedmark region. Headed to New York, they landed there on September 21, 1850. After two years in eastern Wisconsin, the family walked across the state to land that patriarch Ole Olson (later Black) had bought, near Holmen, Wisconsin.
And the rest of those traditions and that story shall wait for another day.
In the meantime, I’ve started daydreaming of a brighter future, when I can step out on the deck of a ship and see this:
Seeing the faces, some slightly blurred depending upon their mode of connection, brightened the morning, sunny as it was. The siblings chattered, as always, one over the other, excited to have discovered Zoom, telling stories about their childhoods on that dairy farm in western Wisconsin. So many shared memories, but I don’t share those, because my husband left the farm at age 18 and never looked back. He’d milked enough cows and driven a tractor too many times to count.
At 2 p.m., the Zoom meeting finished, the doorbell rang. It was the Instacart delivery with the makings for martinis – gin and vermouth. I imagine that many others look at the clock these days and say, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Indeed it is. But the ritual cocktail hour is unchanged, despite the sensation of living day-to-day in a dystopian novel.
I grabbed my Kindle and read a few pages of Camus’s The Plague. The obstinance and dilly-dallying of Oran’s officials hit a little too close to home. I set it down. I just couldn’t concentrate, not even to read a more uplifting novel.
What to do? Waiting for 5 o’clock … .
There’s precious little flour in my pantry right now, and it’s also in short supply everywhere. To be honest, I never knew so many people baked!
I remembered a small package of blueberries snuggling between the frozen peas and some breadcrumbs in my freezer.
Baking soothes, passes the time, and results – usually – in something good to eat.
And once the muffins cooled, into the freezer they went. Of course, not before I taste-tested one. Then I indulged in leafing through Magnus Nilson’s grand opus, The Nordic Cook Book. It weighs so much that I managed to exercise my arms as well as my brain.
At 5 o’clock, beer, not Martinis.
That old TV series, “The Twilight Zone”, keeps cropping up in the collective consciousness, it seems. I mentioned it in a previous post, so imagine my surprise – and delight – when Day 20 dawned with an article about a particularly pertinent episode, by John Blake, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street“.
If life during the Covid-19 pandemic makes it seem like you’ve entered “The Twilight Zone,” that seminal sci-fi series about dread and paranoia, than you’re more right than you realize. On March 4, 1960, it aired a classic episode that’s a cautionary tale about how social order can quickly break down when an unseen threat causes fear to go viral.
The set and the actors contributed to that déjà vu sensation so pertinent today, given that we’ve all watched or read enough sci-fi material to know a dystopian nightmare when we see it. The difference is simply that we’re no longer observers: we’re participants.
And being a participant in this whole state of affairs is like being told you’re going to be in a play, but you haven’t been told what your lines will be. There you are, thrust upon the stage, your mouth hanging open and sweat – cold – rolling down your sides. Added to your quandary is that the director – who “knows things” – has decided that it’s entirely up to you and the rest of the cast to figure how to manage the play.
Back to Magnus Nilson’s door-stopper, The Nordic Cook Book.
Lots of interesting fish recipes.
So I scrounged through my freezer. Again.
That bag of flounder fillets from Sam’s Club, still unopened. 3 pounds. Fish is fine, I just get nervous about the bones. Despite the word “Fillets” on the package, I still found some, but picked them out.
And this happened:
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay home, if you can.