Sola Beach, Norway
We are in our third summer in Stavanger and this one couldn't be more different than the previous two. (Third! Can you believe it?) In fact, I think we're breaking records around here. The last two summers were cool hovering between 15 and 18 degrees most days with high winds and rain making frequent appearances. There were a couple of days that reached into the mid-twenties but with the accompanying chilly wind off the North Sea, it never actually felt hot.
This summer, by contrast, has felt hot. Every day the temperature is peaking between the mid and high twenties with an occasional slight breeze although, comparatively, quite calm. Our long hours of sunlight means it doesn't even start cooling off until 10 pm. For the first time ever, I'm venturing out without packing along a cardigan or a jacket. The curtains are drawn almost all day to block out the sun and all housework has taken a backseat as I don't dare turn on an appliance. We're going through a steady stream of frozen treats and fruit smoothies and I've been scrounging through my wardrobe to find clothes that fit (sort of) and keep me cool. (Funny enough, while home and shopping for maternity clothes, I told sales associates I didn't want anything too summery as it just wouldn't get worn in Norway. I'm kicking myself now.) The other day, I lounged inside in my bikini and have half-heartedly joked that I might set up a lawn chair in our underground parking, easily the coolest place in the building. I never would have thought I'd be yearning for air conditioning in Stavanger, yet here I am, spending an extra minute or two in front of the open refrigerator door. But, I will not complain. Past Novembers with mere moments of sunshine lurk not far in my memory and unfortunately, not far in the future.
July is a typically quiet month in Norway. Tourism is at it's peak but the Norwegians are no where to be found. Known as 'fellesferie,' the month of July marks the time where everyone is on holidays. Norwegians are encouraged to take their summer vacation time (several weeks at a time) at once leaving offices bare and businesses closed. Our local cafe is shut for the month; my seamstress has a note on the door informing customers they'll be back at the end of July; even some banks are closed. Our neighbourhood practically resembles a ghost town and Joe's commute to the office is marked without traffic and plenty of parking spaces. Those that did stick around Stavanger have been taking advantage of the high temperatures. Every day I watch groups of people, children and adults alike, who wander down to the pier below our building to dive into the cool water of the fjord. I'll hear the first attendants well before noon and have been woken up by the last well after midnight.
This past weekend, we wandered over to Sola Beach for an afternoon. While we've visited several times before, we've never actually laid out at the beach. Even on sunny, warm days, the wind batters us and after watching the kite surfers, we usually retreat. This time, the beach was packed and we laid out our towels with everyone else both of us returning home with a slight sunburn as our normally unexposed skin has lost any immunity it once had to the sun's rays.
While the sweat might be pooling behind my knees and as I make a third trip to the freezer for a popsicle, I'll relish this unseasonably warm, Norwegian summer as it very well could be our last.