23 August 2008

Jøssåsen Turns 30!

Many of you may be wondering what it is that I'm doing in Norway. Just what exactly is Camphill? For those of you, who already know about the Camphill movement, you may want to skip ahead.... but for those who are curious, please read on.

Camphill communities were founded by Karl Koenig (left), an Austrian physician, who fled his native country during WWII from the Nazis. He settled in Aberdeen, Scotland with a group of physicians, artists, and caregivers in 1939 and established a community for people with special needs. Influenced greatly by the German philosopher, Rudolf Steiner (below), who developed anthroposophy, Koenig's community focused on the abilities of individuals rather than their disabilities.

I found out about Camphill communities serendipitously at the end of my 4th year in college in a book that a friend had, titled "Interesting Things to Do After College." I was drawn to the philosophy of the place as well as the therapeutic aspects of the communities, and I worked and lived at Camphill Blair Drummond (CBD) near Stirling in Scotland for 2 years. (Below is a picture of CBD from their website. The community is in a Victorian castle, and I must admit that the idea of living in a castle was a huge draw.... Wouldn't you be? Plus, I was young!)

Now I'm back for more community-living: at Camphill Landsby Jøssåsen in Norway (below).

My house Nergården:

As mentioned earlier, Camphill communities are therapeutic communities, where each member of the community, workers and people with special needs or "villagers," contributes his or her own special gifts and talents. Initially when I went to (CBD), I thought I could somehow contribute my artistic skills as a sculptress, which I did in the basketry, weavery, and the pottery. I learned, however, you don't need a specific talent, just a lot of enthusiasm. If you enjoy cooking or cleaning or gardening and have great passion for them, these are skills that you can contribute to the community. Take me for instance: I didn't know how to milk cows before coming to Jøssåsen; I'm pretty much a city-girl, but I had a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for milking cows. I've always loved cows! Not sure why so don't ask, but.... Now that I can milk, I do my little part in the community by milking and providing fresh milk to our community every day. Hence through such contributions and cooperative living, the needs of every community member are met. This communal living facilitates close personal relationships (sometimes maybe a little too close for comfort), in which workers and villagers, alike, teach and learn from each other through mutual interactions.

There are about 100 Camphill communities world-wide, mainly in Europe, but also in North America (US & Canada), Africa (Botswana & South Africa), Russia and India. The workers at Camphill are usually nonsalaried. I receive a small amount of pocket money each month, which is just enough for me to do things on my days off. I believe the communities in the UK and Norway are mostly funded by the government, but I don't know a whole lot on this subject so I'm going to avoid it. Sorry! If any of you know more about this, please chime in, I'd like to know more. And here's a website for Camphill communities worldwide, if you are still intrigued.


So there you go! That's Camphill in a nutshell.

Now, back to Jøssåsen:

Founded in 1978, Jøssåsen just celebrated its 30th anniversary. (Tent was set up outside of Yggdrasil Hall for a week-long celebration.)

Celebration started with the Villagers' Seminar, where there were interactive lectures on Norse Mythology--from what I could gather, from little Norwegian I know--about Thor and thunder and hammer and Freyja and something, something, something.... Above picture and sculptures were made in different workshops that were held for villagers from Camphills all over Norway.

Then there was the actual anniversary celebration where lots of speeches about Jøssåsen were given by people who have been a part of the community in the past and/or are still a big part of the place. A man even played a lovely song on his accordion, and people began to sing along. It was really a sweet moment. We also had something in store for the guests. A play about Askeladd was showcased. I escaped from taking part in the play, which I am so thankful for since I don't like to be on stage, but I tried to document the play as well as I could by taking lots of photos.

The king promises land and his daughter to anyone who can complete the challenges that he presents.

Askeladd and his brothers attempt to obtain the princess.

The old man in the forest has the means of helping the brothers achieve their goals.

With the help of the old man, Askeladd gets a boat that can fly over the land and sail the ocean. On his journey to the king, he picks up many friends with different talents along the way.

With the help of his friends, Askeladd is able to win the princess! Yay!

To end the week-long celebration, Jøssåsen Olympics were held for the first time. Villagers from all over Norway came and participated. It was a lot of fun, and the weather was gorgeous to boot!

Many events were held, such as bowling...


and knitting. Everyone did a fantastic job, and we closed the week by dancing to music performed by Fritt Farm. It was a blast!

Happy Birthday, Jøssåsen!

Photos of Karl Koenig & Rudolf Steiner and Camphill logo are from the internet.

07 August 2008

Very Berry Season

Berry season is here!!!
(And nearly gone, but nevermind... I meant to post this a lot earlier. Oops!)

You can't even begin to imagine the amount of wild berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries that abound everywhere we go around Jøssåsen. On our day off, when Anne, Eva, Lukas, and I went hiking, we stopped nearly every 10-15 steps to pick and eat various berries. Here I am (above) picking wild raspberries.

Oh, and I must proudly announce that I can name all these berries in Norwegian: blåbær, jordbær, and bringebær. I can name more and even name them in German, but back to the berries....

Aren't these little strawberries just darling? They are cute and taste even sweeter than they look: small and packed with flavor. Who ever said size matters? If you ever come across these tiny strawberries in Norway, don't pass them by; they are amazing.
As are the wild raspberries, which are everywhere. They are smaller than your garden variety but are unbelievably tasty! I love them and could eat them all day and all night. Yum!!!

We picked a lot of berries in just a few hours. Our hands were freckled with blue and red stains. We also ate a ton of them, probably more than half the berries we picked. So much so....

...that we all had blue tongues at the end of the hike. For some reason my tongue was especially blue on one side.

We all had a belly full of berries. As if that weren't enough, we made pancakes with the berries that we had saved and ate them with ice cream for dinner. Could life be any sweeter?

Mid to late-August, berries were everywhere, and everyone, including villagers, picked berries. All kinds of berries. We picked more berries than we could eat and made jam out of the excess berries. Yes, I can now make jam (syltetøy) and juice (saft)! Pretty cool, isn't it?!? I'm quite proud that I have these skills although I wonder if and when I'll ever make jam and juice once I leave Jøssåsen....


Blogging takes up a lot of time, which I didn't realize at the time when I committed to share my adventures... which is why I have neglected to post anything in a while. So much is happening so fast that once I got a little behind, it was difficult to decide what to blog and when. But after a couple of emails from friends asking about the status of my blog, I, now, have re-newed energy and inspiration to go at it again. Some of the posts are long-overdue, even revisiting my holidays.... and Trollkirka in the Western Fjords.

During our "vacation" in the Western Fjords, Anne and I did an incredible hike to Trollkyrkja, "Troll's Church." When we embarked on our hike, we weren't sure how long the hike would take. Why? you may ask. Well, according to Anne's German guide book, the hike takes 4-5 hours. My Lonely Planet estimates it would take about 2-3 hours whereas a Norwegian book simply says it would take about an hour and a half. So we had a range of 1-6 hours. Hmmmm.... Curious, isn't it? Even the sign at the start of the trail wasn't terribly helpful in the time department. As you can see (to the right), the sign says it takes "just an hour or so" to get to the caves, but someone, who presumably has done the hike, disagreed, and inked in "2 hrs up!" As Anne and I set out on our hike, we had a little challenge, to determine which country's guide has the most accurate information on hiking Trollkirka.

At the start of the trail, it looked as if it would take a very, very long time to get to the caves and the waterfall, especially if they were on top of one of the mountains we saw ahead.

We weren't too concerned, however, about the length of the trip. We were happy to be out and about and to see something magnificent. We wanted to enjoy our hike and to explore the surroundings and to eventually reach the waterfalls in Southern Norway's longest cave, formed during the Ice Ages. (Plus, it wouldn't hurt to test out which guide book gives the most accurate hiking time. A little friendly competition among different nations. And I was so certain my Lonely Planet was probably the most accurate!)

Anne and I stopped a lot along the rocky path to take pictures and to take in the beauty of our surroundings. The trail was as magical as the caves that awaited us at the top of the mountain. We couldn't stop awing and wowing. Everything was so green and so beautiful. And the air... it was so light and fresh. I kept breathing in, deeply, for my lungs to enjoy all the fresh cool air (that and maybe I also got a little out of breath since I wasn't used to hiking such steep trails.) I really wish my pictures could capture all the things I felt as I hiked to Trollkirka and the surprise as I saw the entrance to Trollkirka. It was so dark and ominous--not really what I had imagined, but maybe it was fitting for trolls.

Anne had her headlight, but all I had was my little maglite, which is the size of my pinky. See the maglite in my hand in the picture? There wasn't enough light to luminate our way. The cave was damp, dark, and scary, as if a troll or an inbred-trolly-being might jump out at us, at any moment, like in that terrible and scary movie called the Descent. (If you haven't seen it, don't!) We were so scared that we didn't start making our way in until a brave Dutch man made his way, solo, into the cave, ahead of us. Frightened and cold, we basically crawled to get to our destination in the dark.

And what a destination it was! Angel-white marble carved by the water was so sculptural and beautiful. It was nothing like I had ever seen or imagined.

And as if the first cave and the waterfall and the light at the end weren't amazing enough, what we saw in the second cave was doubly astonishing. Indescribably so....

It may seem silly, but I kept thinking as I admired these caves and waterfalls that nature is the greatest architect/ sculptor. I am so happy that I was able to see something as amazing as Trollkirka. I heart Norway. See the heart in the picture? That stone was sculpted and left there just for me to see. I'm sure. ;)

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot... if you're curious, our trip to and fro Trollkirka took longer than what any of our guide books described: 6+ hours. The accuracy challenge still stands.

06 August 2008

Project for a Recovering-Insomiac

The view of the sky from our cottage was amazing, especially during sunset, and I loved the colorful sky that never quite went dark. So I decided it would be a great idea to take pictures of the sky every half hour. No one thought I was really serious about the "project" although they agreed that it was a cool idea. Maybe I'm a little nuts to have stayed up all night to take pictures of starless sky, but it was amazing to observe the shifting shades of blue, orange, pink, and silver of the sky as the night went on. Here are some of the pictures from that evening.






The sun slowly started to make its way down shortly after 10pm.


Going, going, going....

The sun finally said good-bye at 10:23pm.








Between 2:30am and 3:00am was the darkest it ever got, which wasn't that dark at all.




I must have dozed off and missed taking a photo. Oops!




It actually looks a bit darker at 6:30 than it did at 6:00.
That's only because it started to get quite foggy.
I decided this was a sign--for me to go to bed.

The End