Back Home

I am all packed and ready to go back home to America. This is a time of mixed emotions – I’m sad to leave the Faroe Islands, but I am looking forward to being with my children again. This time, the feelings are a little stronger, since it may be a while before I make it back to the Faroes again.

I have several projects that will keep me occupied for some time when I return home. First, I will need to learn how to be a grandmother. Other people who have had the experience tell me that this very small unknown person will become a very important part of my life, and since my daughter and her husband live only a ten minute drive from my house, I will have lots of opportunities to get to know the new little baby.

In 2008, the big event for me was getting my book published in the Faroe Islands (in Faroese). My next big project will be to find a publisher in America that is interested in publishing a book about a woman who finds her father’s family in the Faroe Islands (where???) some 80 years after he left home. Wish me luck! I don’t know how long this will take, but I plan to keep trying until I succeed.

I also plan to get back into directing and producing theater in my church in Berkeley. For years, we would put on a couple of shows every year, and I think it is time to get organized for the next show. Directing a show in Berkeley is not something I can do while travelling back and forth to the Faroe Islands.

On the other side of the picture, I love living here in the Faroe Islands. I like living in a small town where I know a lot of people and where people know me – a place where you don’t need to lock your doors and where you can safely walk alone, day or night. I am finally learning enough of the language that I can hold a conversation with someone, at least on a limited number of topics. I have grown to know and love my family here. If you have looked at my photos over the years, you know that this is an incredibly beautiful place. However, the winter storms are not among my favorite things, even though they make good pictures.

With all of the travelling I have been doing, I often say that home is where my suitcase is. Well, now I am taking my suitcase back to California – back home.

Gøta Gates

Nearly every garden on Gunnleyg’s street has a different kind of gate. On a sunny day when we took a walk through the town, I stopped to take pictures of the gates. I have included some other gates, and somethings that are not gates, as well. The play of shadow and sun makes them look like abstract art.

Fuglafjørður

Here are a some photos from Fuglafjørður from the past few weeks. It is a beautiful place. You should come for a visit sometime. Maybe for my next visit, work on the little house will be finished.

Here are also a few leftover photos that aren’t from Fuglafjørður that I thought you might enjoy.

Sunset

A few days ago I drove home from Tórshavn with the setting sun shining in my eyes until we got to Eysturoy. There was no wind, and the sea was very still, reflecting the passing mountains and towns. Skálafjørður Bay was like a mirror.

We arrived in Gøta, but we drove right past Gunnleyg’s house, through the tunnel to Leirvík. I hadn’t seen a sunset for two months in the Faroe Islands, and in the summer, Leirvík, with its view to the north, is the perfect place to see a sunset. If we had waited just a few more hours, we could also have seen the sunrise from just about the same place.

Patterns in Nature

First I noticed how the patterns in the sand have the same wavy pattern as the waves in the bay on a calm day. Then I started seeing other patterns in nature – things you don’t see in a large city in America. Here are a few close-up pictures of common sights of nature in the Faroe Islands.

More Celebrations

This has been a week of celebrations, with something different happening nearly every night. I don’t have any pictures from Monday night, so there probably wasn’t a concert or a party on Monday.

Last Sunday, the Fuglafjørður Brass Band (called a Horn Orchestra in the Faroe Islands) celebrated their 40th anniversary by giving a concert in the Fuglafjørður Culture house. It was a delightful evening with a wide variety of music. One of my favorites was a ponderous tuba solo, with the small trumpet player playing circles around the tuba (figuratively and literally). I didn’t know there was such a wide variety of music written for a horn orchestra.

On Tuesday, the Fuglafjørður church was filled with people who came for a hymn sing. The Faroese radio station recorded about 15 hymns – ones that are favorites in the Fuglafjørður church. If we made a mistake, we would have to go back and sing it again. During the past year they have done this in five or six different churches in the Faroes. The program will be broadcast at a later date.

On Wednesday, I drove to the town of Toftir, about 20 minutes to the south on Eysturoy, for a concert by a choir from Denmark. During the spring and summer months, there are a variety of musical groups who come to the Faroes and give concerts in various churches here.

On Thursday, the Fuglafjørður Kommuna honored Niels Midjørd on his 60th birthday by sponsoring an evening of music at the Culture House. Niels was the architect who designed the Culture House, and all of the performers were people whom Niels had sung or played with. It was a fun evening, ending with desserts, of course.

On Friday, there was an organ concert at the Fuglafjørður church, part of the 25th anniversary celebration for the new church building. Four organists from Faroese churches played for the concert, including Heðin, our Fuglafjørður organist. Wonderful music!

On Saturday, I attended a birthday dinner for Niels, along with about 150 other friends and relatives. The Fuglafjørður choir sang several pieces, one of them by Niels. This was a typical Faroese celebration with lots of music, speeches, good food, and rich desserts.

Today I went to a birthday party for 11 year old Esmann – not so much music, but lots of good food and rich desserts.

I think I have mentioned that Faroese people enjoy celebrations. They really do!

The Gøta Ravine

On a sunny afternoon, Gunnleyg and I took a walk up the hill along a path that led to the edge of the ravine that gives Gøtugjógv its name. The weather was beautifully sunny, but there was still a strong, cold wind. On a sunny day everything seems to be green, or yellow, or blue (with a few white clouds). I took too many pictures of the view, and here are some of the better ones.

25 Year Celebration

On Whit Sunday (called Pentecost in America), the Fuglafjørður church celebrated the 25th anniversary of its new church. Faroese people enjoy such celebrations, and this one was quite special. There were two days of special celebration, Whit Sunday and the Second Whit Sunday, which was actually a Monday.

The Sunday service included music by a visiting Danish choir, the Fuglafjørður brass band (called a horn orchestra), trumpet solos by Johan Hentze, and the sermon by the Faroese Bishop from the Lutheran State Church. After the service, dinner was provided for everyone in the downstairs hall, and it took two seatings to feed the crowd.

On Monday there was another morning service. The highlight of the weekend for me was the cantata concert in the afternoon. The church had commissioned the Danish composer, John Høybye, to compose and conduct a cantata for the 25th anniversary celebration. The text was based on Psalm 84, and it included the text of a classic hymn by the Danish pastor Grundtvig and a new adaptation of the psalm by Frits Johannesen and Alexandur Kristiansen, two men from Fuglafjørður.

Three choirs joined together for the performance, the Dacapo choir from Denmark, the Chamber Choir from Tórshavn, and the Fuglafjørður choir, accompanied by a small orchestra with piano and organ. The church was filled for the concert. The music was beautiful, and very challenging to sing, but it was the words in this strange Faroese language that were most challenging for the choir from Denmark and for one choir member from America. Even John Høybye was pleased with the concert. Once during rehearsal, he stopped conducting, and said “This trumpet is bringing tears to my eyes.” The two brothers who played the trumpet are both extremely talented musicians and have won numerous awards in Denmark.

Knowing how much the Faroese enjoy celebrations, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the celebration continued after the concert. There was dessert for all of the audience, but dinner was served to the choirs, who had been at the church for most of the day. This was followed by a party at a small hall in Fuglafjørður, where there was more music, dancing, and drinks. The Danish choir especially wanted to dance the Faroese chain dance, so we sang and danced two different ballads.

Since neither John Høybye nor the Danish choir knew any Faroese, and since all Faroese people learn Danish in school, all of the rehearsals during the last week were in Danish. I was the only one who didn’t know Danish. That was when I realized that I really have learned quite a bit of Faroese. Even if I don’t understand everything, at least I sort of know what is going on. However, in Danish, I don’t know at all what is going on.

Scenes from Gøta

Here are some pictures from Gøta that I took during the past week and a half. We have had many days of very fine weather, and I often take a walk through the fields, up the hill, and around the town of Syðrugøta, where I am staying. I have not been very regular in updating my web site, but I don’t have a reliable internet connection.

During the past week or so, most of the sheep have been moved to their summer home up in the higher mountain fields, but there are a few still in the fields near Gøta. I have seen the pair of oystercatchers several times on my walk, and I think they must have a nest nearby. They didn’t seem to like it when I stopped along the road and watched them.

This time of year it is never really dark in the Faroe Islands. A few nights ago I walked home at about 12:30 a.m., which is about the time when the sun has set as much is it ever will, and starts coming back up. There are several tall mountains to the north of Gøta, so we can’t actually see the sunset or sunrise. This time of year, the sun sets and rises in the north. When I was growing up, I learned that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but that isn’t the case here.