2 – 7 mai, 2011
Early Monday morning, 4:45 a.m., Elisabeth met me at the car to take me to the airport. She and Guy have been wonderful to work with. I feel as though they have become my Luxembourg relatives. This morning she has packed a sandwich and drink for the trip.
All went as expected at the airport. The plane to Amsterdam was quite full – I had an aisle seat in the very last row of plane. It was necessary and easy to nap a bit during the flight of 45 minutes. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, I found the bank to exchange Euros for Kroner so that I could pay for my train ride and taxi cab in Norway.
The flight to Trondheim was 3 hours, so more naps and a little eating of airline food. I arrived in Norway at 10:30 a.m. Sr. Sheryl had emailed detailed directions of what to do once I arrived: catch the 11:45 train, just a short walk from the airport’s front doors, and about a half hour trip, and then take a taxi, which was waiting for me at the Åsen station, 45 minutes to Tautra Mariakloster. It worked just like that.
Once at the monastery, about 1:00 p.m., I had a bit of dinner, then Sr. Marjoe showed me around and to my room. It has a view of the boathouses and the water - water everywhere.
The day was calm and mild with a definite feeling of spring. The farmers are working up the fields in preparation for planting of potatoes, carrots, lettuce, etc.
After evening prayer, Sr. Sheryl and I had supper together. She was the cook – salmon, green beans, and rice – and made all taste so good. She and Sr. Gilchrist laid out before me the various musical tasks that were before me for the week.
I wasn’t sure how my body/mind would take the long days. At 9:30 I decided to go to bed, but first I took a picture of the evening sky, still in bright twilight, from my bedroom window. Then I slept quite well despite briefly checking the near darkness several times throughout the night. The curtains on the windows block most of the light for easily adjusting to the non-dark.
On Tuesday, the rehearsals began. Each morning from 9:00 – 9:30 I work with the choir. Then there are two or three scheduled meetings for individuals throughout the day. That evening I had supper with Sr. Gilchrist.
Tuesday morning, Sheryl had asked if I’d like to travel with her on Wednesday on some errands to Trondheim. On the way back we would stop at the world-famous Ringve museum of music. Tautra is an island in the fjord of Trondheim. Crossing the little bridge to the mainland is just the beginning. It was over an hour and a half to drive to Trondheim, through several tunnels and along the sea. Norway has lots of big rock mountains and lots of trees. It is very picturesque.
The Ringve Museum has an amazing collection of instruments by a Russian singer who came to and married in Norway. She and her husband purposefully collected instruments from around the world. Most are no longer being manufactured such as a piano with a keyboard like that of an accordion – an invention of the 19th century. The other aspect of the museum is a history of musical instruments, so one finds a Moog synthesizer, a Hammond organ, and a jukebox. In the “barn” the audio tour provided recordings of the instruments being played and explanations of their significance. We really needed more than the 2 hours that we allotted to take it all in. It was a fascinating place to visit.
On our travels through Trondheim, we picked up Bjørn, a retired chef who has become a friend of the sisters who was coming out to Tautra for a retreat weekend. He connects with restaurants and stores to pick up foods that have expired dates but are still good to use and distributes them to several charities. This week the sisters were going to have several treats: salmon, asparagus, and tomatoes.
By Friday, I had gotten to know the other people who were on retreat at the monastery. The guests eat with Fr. Anthony in the guest dining room after the noon prayer. We eat in silence until all have finished eating. Then as the dessert and coffee or tea is being prepared we converse with one another. The Lutheran pastor, the very first day I arrived, gave me a quick lesson on Norwegian vowels so that I might better join in the singing of the prayers. (Now I need to inquire about the consonants because I am hearing some new things.) Another woman, Amanda Dorothea, who is a pastor of a church in Rotterdam, is here with a friend for the week. They are doing lots of walking and some touring of the area. Amanda was a choir director for 20 years. Now she uses a lot of music in her church. We have had numerous chats as we share a common kitchen.
This day, Bjørn wanted to give us a chance to taste Munkeby cheese. This cheese is being made by the Cistercian monks who are about an hour away from Tautra. They come from Citeaux in France, so the cheese looks a lot like brie, but it does not smell like brie – the odor is much stronger – however, the taste is mild and earthy. It is made with goat’s milk from the region around the monastery. It is quite popular with Norwegian restaurants of a certain caliber.
With the cheese tasting, Bjørn prepared rhubarb, cooked just until tender in a water-sugar syrup, and fresh asparagus. There were biscuit crackers on which to set the cheese, too. His chef-hand made it look appetizing, and it was very tasty.
Another cheese that the Norwegians really like is “brown cheese.” This is made from milk that is cooked down, until carmelized, and then processed as cheese. It is very smooth and a little sweet, not unlike Velveeta, but it is not so soft.
In the afternoon, after my lessons were done for the day, Amanda and I walked to the monastery ruins on the other side of the island. It is not a long walk at all. At that site, there are several small shops with gifts, Norwegian and otherwise, and a little restaurant that serves Norwegian dishes. Today there was a funeral dinner being served, so we did not go in. The area is set up for picnickers, too.
Norway has decided to intentionally preserve any remaining ruins – monasteries, castles, and such. There is work going on at this site to tuckpoint the stones.
It was a lovely day weather-wise today. This week there were two days of rain, another two overcast and windy days. The weekend is supposed to be more pleasant. Friday, like Monday, were warm and mild. I hope there will be more good weather next week when I’m on retreat. When the sun doesn’t shine, even indoors it is much chillier.A few more pictures
As I predicted, I do not have convenient access to Internet. Also during retreat, I do not expect to be online at all. If necessary, please call Mariakloster – some of you have that phone number. That will be the best way to reach me until I make my return home.
Peace, Dear Reader.