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Officer Norway’s Corner – Recalling memories of summers past

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

As one grows older, especially for those who grew up without the internet, social media, 200 TV channels, smartphones, and cars with built-in WiFi. I often think back to those carefree days of years gone by, and at times longing for those years again. Summers in the little fishing village where I grew up was just that, carefree.

My dad, who operated his own carpentry business in the basement of our home, always kept busy, and summers were no exceptions. He would make custom staircases, servicing many of the carpentry needs for the fishing fleet, even building dollhouses and wooden toys. He would also donate bags of sawdust to the circus who always came to town during the summer, and we would receive a few tickets to the show in return.

We had a red VW Beetle in the early 70s, which we used on several vacation trips, mainly to northern Finland and Sweden. The drive to reach Finland was less than three hours. I remember it felt a little “exotic” crossing the border and start seeing signs and names of another country.

On the northern coast of Norway, there are not much of any forests to speak of, but that genuinely changed as you drive into northern Finland. Miles and miles of roads winding its way through pine forests. After a day of driving, we would find a campground, usually located next to one of the many lakes. If it rained, we would rent a cabin, if not, we would set up our tent, fold-out our camping chairs and a table. My dad would get some coffee going, maybe he would add a drop or two of homemade shine to it. We would sit outside talking, often until the early hours of the next day, and go to bed while the midnight sun still was shining.

Those were indeed days to cherish and remember, days that later in life became beautiful anchors of memories of a not so distant past in years, but lightyears from where we are now. Today we are always connected, always in the now, workwise and with friends. Vacations, concerts, even weddings have, in some ways, been turned into quick posts on social media. I am guilty of this, too, but with my childhood and early adulthood in mind, I am also aware of what truly matters in the long run. What indeed forges long and rewarding relationships, be it with friends or a significant other. Thankfully social media has not yet been able to cross that bridge, the human, face-to-face connection.

Until next time, be safe, have fun and don’t lose that human connection.