The other colors showed up in fast succession: billowing white Queen Anne’s Lace, glistening yellow buttercups, purple St. John’s flowers, bursting pink peonies, cheerful orange and fuchsia Dahlia’s, orange, red and pink tulips, clumps of purple and white lupines, red and white clover, blue bells, deep-pink wild roses, bright white daisies and so many more flowers that I can’t yet identify! (You can see some of these flowers in my latest photo blog).
In my estimation the official color of summer in Norway is sunshine (along with blue skies and fluffy white clouds). June 23 is a celebration of the abundant light of summer (just after the earth begins to shift its axis of rotation and our days gradually become shorter - it tends to make Norwegians a tad bit gloomy). It is St. Hansaften (St. John's Eve) and Norwegians traditionally eat sour cream porridge and gather around huge bonfires (preferably along the shores of the sea or a lake) late into the night and girls sleep with flowers under their pillows. The superstition goes that young girls must pick seven different flowers and tie them together with a light blue ribbon and sleep with them under their pillow in order to have a dream about their future prince charming. I heard about the tradition on the radio and one of the women had followed the tradition from her childhood until she was thirty! (And, no, she never once dreamed about him).
That brings me to one of my personal colors of summer: blue. When I heard about the St. Hansaften flower tradition I had been having my own sad dreams about Bijou. I originally ‘rescued’ him from an animal placement shelter in California nearly four years ago. He turned out to be a very affectionate, playful dog, always eager to go on an adventure (in the car, meeting new people or new walking spots). In fact he braved the adventure of flying in a plane and joined me in Norway last September. It was unspeakably good to have a companion from home here with me in Norway. However, my husband and I realized after six months in the tight quarters of our fourth-floor apartment that we were allergic to him. This posed a huge dilemma for us; how could we give up our ‘little lamb’ - our loving, joyful companion of every waking moment (and on occasion our sleeping moments)? I agonized over it until one day I remembered the song, “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” If The Divine looked after small birds, couldn’t He take care of Bijou? I relinquished my turmoil in that awareness and placed an ad on a web site. With perfect timing a lady contacted me who lives on a farm in middle Norway and utilizes animal therapy to help troubled youth and children. When she came to meet Bijou (along with six of her children) he sat contentedly, soaking up their affection. He never whined or looked back at us when he left. It was as peaceful a parting as I ever could have wished for. In spite of that, his absence left a bigger void than I imaged and there were some rather blue days. After a few weeks I began to dream troubling dreams about him. And after four dreams I resolved to call his new owner. When she answered they were on a walk and she said, “Things are going very well with Bijou!” If you remember how understated Norwegians tend to be, “very well” means something like: fabulous, wonderful, amazing (!). She said he gets a lot of affection, goes on lots of walks and that everyone loves him. I can’t help but smile as I write this, imagining Bijou grinning as he plays fetch or chases his new dog friend or sits in the lap of an adoring child. Yes, The One who watches over sparrows certainly has an eye on Bijou!
As the blue of my summer slowly faded away, white firmly took its place: the white of a Norwegian nurses uniform. Without a job and fewer licensure requirements than I anticipated (a four-week class and three months of clinical practice) I decided to pursue clinical placement for the summer. I found a nursing home nearby and contacted them. They responded immediately explaining they had an interesting unit where patients transition and rehabilitate after their hospitalization before they return home. Within a couple of weeks everything miraculously fell into place and I was wearing my white uniform hearing the nurses report in Norwegian for the first time. Over the past few weeks I have come to work more and more independently, enjoying my interaction with patients, learning medical Norwegian and practicing my clinical skills. I think white will turn out to be a good color for me this summer. In the meantime, I’m soaking up all of the other colors of summer in my every spare moment.