Farmhouse in Kvinesdal, southern Norway.
It is only my second day of looking for a new home, and I have already “fallen in love”. Â Well, that is of course an exaggeration, but at least I am fascinated. Â There were about a dozen new advertisements on the website this time (I have limited the search to Vest-Agder, the province where I live. Â Well, actually it is in size something in between a province and a county, I guess; I have seen both terms used for it. Â Anyway, one of the new offers was a farm.
I am a farmboy born and bred, from generations and generations of farmers. Â But strangely enough I myself was unable to even keep living on an animal farm, because of allergy to the feed flour given to the animals. Â I don’t have hay fever, it seems: Â The symptoms always came after being exposed to that particular feed. Â Unfortunately, it is essential to modern animal husbandry in Norway.
Still, life on the farm will probably always hold a special place in my heart. Â Seeing the largish farmhouse surrounded by trees, I felt immediately that this would be a good place to live. And so I believe it is. Â But it would probably be a good place to live for a family too. Â The house can easily accommodate a family of six, at least. Â At the end of a country road, with no traffic, even small children would be able to play happily outside without danger from speeding cars or suspicious strangers. Â The outhouse / barn could accommodate a horse or two or perhaps a few ostriches. Â OK, probably not a good idea those ostriches, but still. Â (There are ostrich farms in Norway, although the animals are most assuredly not part of our natural fauna.) The point is, we’re talking about the good life in the countryside.
Do people WANT the good life in the countryside anymore? Â I am not sure. There seems to be a tremendous demand for small apartments in the city downtown, or small houses with not even room for a real garden, or even a shrub hedge between one house and the next. Â And this is in Norway. Â People from almost anywhere else in the world cannot imagine the amount of sheer wilderness this country has. Â Even here I could take off from my home and just walk, and if I don’t bring some means of navigation I could get lost within hours, never to emerge again from the primordial forest, and quite likely my bones would not be found for centuries if ever. Â This is the case pretty much everywhere on the south and west Â and northern parts of Norway, except smack in the middle of the cities. Â We are barely 5 million people, but we could have room for ten times as many and still have plenty of wilderness all around us. Civilization more or less seems to exist as a frail band on the fringes of a primal nature, living on its sufferance for a while, to be swallowed again quickly if our resolve weakens.
Under such conditions, living with the creaking of your neighbors’ beds or even just looking through their windows all day seems barely short of perverse. Â It is a beautiful country, why not live in its beauty? Â But since clumping together is the trend in society and has been for a good while now, I cannot just magically plunk down a house at the edge of the forest. Â I could however magically FIND one.
But I restrain myself. Â The house is even better suited for a family. Â I would only occupy half of it, even with all the clothes I have not worn out yet. Â (I have only thrown away a couple Â clothes since last I moved. Â I have not even opened the shirts that were unopened when I moved here in February 2006!) I don’t have children to play in the road or climb the trees. Â And if someone has a job in that part of the province, they would not get many chances to find a place to live there. Almost all new construction is around the towns. Â So for the happiness of the many, I must restrain myself. Â I must have faith that I can live a wonderful life without hurting others.
There is also the small detail that my commute to and from work would be 80 minutes by train and 40 minutes on foot, each way. Â Now I love trains and I love walking (it is also very healthy) but it is still two hours. Â I have said before that I wanted a longer commute, and I am serious that it would not inconvenience me: Â Commute is when I get most of my reading done, or I can meditate or even sleep if I feel the need for that. Â With the new mobile phone I can also check my mail and social media, so it is not all that different from being home. Â Still, it has its weak points. You can’t just decide to come to work half an hour earlier, because there is no train that arrives at that time; likewise you cannot just decide when to leave work, because there are only a couple trains each evening going that way.
And of course there is no law requiring the owner to rent to me even if I am willing to pay several months in advance (as I would gladly do). Â Single men are viewed with suspicion here in the Feminist Paradise of Scandinavia. Â Hopefully my references from here and, if worst comes to worst, the place where I lived for the previous 20 or so years, would calm such fears. But it is very uncommon for a man of my age to live a stable life alone. Â Then again, “uncommon” is probably one of the best words ever to describe me.
So we shall see. Â If the Light wants me to live there, nobody else will get it, even if they try. Â If it is my longing ideal, the angels of Heaven will intervene on my behalf; but if it is just a worldly attachment, they will kindly look for a way to divert me. Â Or something like that. Â I am not really a theologian. Â But when I moved here, in winter 2006, on my second day I met a man who recognized me from years ago. He worked nearby, and told me that he had seen me walking in the area recently. Â Now, this was actually my second time walking there, and the first time had been on another time of the day when he was unlikely to have been there. So who had he seen? In the Bible there is an episode when the apostle Peter is mistaken for his angel, so evidently they have the power to assume the shape of their wards if needed… Who knows. Â I know the Bible is kind of old now, but if I were to find a house in the countryside to rent, it would almost be a miracle of Biblical proportions, don’t you think? Just like last time.