Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Mountain Life


Did you know that I once lived up a mountain? I don’t know how high up the house was but the road certainly didn’t go any further and it was possible to walk from our place to the top without too much trouble.

We weren’t there long, but it was an experience I wouldn’t be without. The house itself was a bit of a shack – you could look between the floorboards from the second floor and watch what was going on downstairs, the only heating was a wood burner in the living room, and when the wind blew it felt as if it would fall down. No wonder we found the midnight thunder storm exciting! It did have hot water and a shower though which helped a lot.

The house we lived in

It’s more redeeming feature was, without a shadow of doubt, the view. From the living room and patio it looked out through a valley between two other mountains, out towards the sea (you had to climb a bit further up the mountain to actually see as far as the sea) and it was spectacular. Like something I’d never imagined! Living in Norway I’d seen some pretty amazing views before but having that right outside my house every morning was incredible. What’s more, every morning at around 9.30 an eagle used to fly across the valley. I’d never seen a wild eagle before so you can imagine how mind-blowing that was to watch. Strangely enough, I never saw it fly back the other way.

There was one bus a day from our mountain and into the nearest village. It was the school bus really but anybody could catch a ride. Being as I didn’t have a car at the time, you'll understand that organisation was essential if I wasn’t going to run out of essential supplies. Luckily, a lady I’d befriended – and who I’m still friends with today – used to offer to drive me down with her but that wasn’t too often. We used to enjoy a lot of time together though. Her house was about a 20 minute walk from mine (houses were few and far between up there) but that didn’t matter – the walk was always enjoyable whether at 2 in the afternoon or 2 at night.

A local farmer used to come up with his horse and cart a couple of times a week and took the kids out for a ride. They were always welcome at the farm, too. DD2 learned to ride there.

Strangely enough, during my short spell on that mountain I made more friends than I have in six years in the street I live in now. I wonder why that is? Any suggestions? The people of Bontveit were open, honest and hard-working; they had a real respect and understand of nature and the part they played in it. There was no place for misplaced sympathy – sheep had to be slaughtered and if the dog was too ill to live, the shot gun came out. But the sheep roamed freely on the mountainside while they lived and the dog was treated with the greatest respect.

Living there was, my friends, truly living the simple life. It was a very happy time for all of us.

Sharon J xx

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Anonymous said...

Where exactly was this mountain? I take it Norway some place? You're lucky to have experienced this, all I've ever lived in is a terraced house in a town.

I think the answer to your question is that the closer people are forced to live the more withdrawn they become from each other. They just close their doors and get on with their lives and don't really want to get involved with neighbours. It seems that way to me anyhow.

Good luck with your journey to a simple life. I wish I could be that brave but I like my creature comforts too much.

Sharon J said...

Bontveit is just outside Bergen on Norway's west coast, an area that's renowned for its natural beauty. And yes, I am indeed very lucky. I’ve had some wonderful experiences in life and they mean more to me than any material goods ever could. The feeling of sitting outside with a cup of coffee and a fresh baked bun, a good friend for company and enjoying the tranquillity of the mountain is something that no amount of money could ever buy.

You may well be right with regards to people living on top of each other although there are some places where there are still decent communities in urban areas. And back in the 'old days' people had a far greater sense of community than they did now even though they lived in tiny terraced houses. I think perhaps consumerism has something to do with it. When we didn't have much, we appreciated each other much more whereas now we just seem to be competing against one another. Maybe I'm just being too cynical, though.