Sunday, 25 December 2011

Postcards from the Water’s Edge

Norway FishingNorway has a lot in common with Newfoundland: a history of being ruled from afar, an endemically poor economy lifted by the discovery of offshore oil, and a wealth of hydroelectric power. It is also the 2nd largest exporter of fish (Canada is 6th). It was this commonality of a culture related to the sea and to fishing that stood out as I explored the coast around Fjærvoll.

As in Newfoundland, there are many fishing stores. Of course their location is not odd to the fishermen, who would put them close to the water so as to minimize the distance they had to walk to get to their boats.

Norway Fishing


Most stores and barns in both Norway and Newfoundland are painted red. This is a traditional colour because red was the cheapest paint.

Norway Fishing


I could see that fishing communities in both countries were located with one thing in mind: to be close to the fish. For both Norway and Newfoundland, this drive to be close to the fish has led to some very remote and very isolated communities. The location of these communities makes sense when you think that in the days before gasoline engines, fishermen would have to row out in their boats to tend to their traps, nets, and lines. This would not only have taken a lot more time if they were further away, but would also have required a lot more energy. In subsistence living, energy is a thing to be conserved.

With the advent of the internal combustion engine, governments built roads to many of the larger isolated communities. To reach these places, the roads had to cross some pretty harsh terrain and are often nothing more than narrow, winding paths that hug the shoreline.

Norway Fishing


As I drove along one such road, I turned a corner and the community of Nykvåg suddenly appeared. Like many Newfoundland fishing communities, the houses were sparsely spread across the land with hardly a tree in sight. There wasn’t much shelter from the harsh wind that can whip in off the ocean.

Norway Fishing 1

You may want to see a larger sized photo here.

On the other side of Nykvåg, the road continued along the coast to the tiny hamlet of Hovden. The spectacle of houses located right next to the beach and under the protective shelter of a nearby hill could easily have been seen in any number of Newfoundland locations.

Norway Fishing


I came across an unusual flake in Hovden. A flake, for those of you not in the know, is a wooden structure used for drying fish. This one was much higher off the ground than what I am used to seeing, and there were tracks underneath it, so the height must have been to allow vehicles to pass below. This sounds like it would provide an advantage, but I couldn’t see how it would be practical. However, I don’t think there is a patent on the best fish flake design. In Newfoundland, there are many styles of flakes. Even how to spell the name took centuries to be agreed upon, having gone by flek, fleyke, fleake, flaik and fleack. While these contraptions go by a different name - they are called hjell by the Norwegians - they serve the same purpose.

Norway Fishing


The last similarity that struck me between rural Newfoundland and rural Norway was the occasional abandoned building. It’s not a strong connection, as Norway is a pretty clean and tidy country, but this old building wouldn’t be out of place in any Newfoundland community.

Norway Fishing


There was even some old equipment still inside.

Norway Fishing



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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.

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