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Iris Hansson Myran

photo of Iris reading©2012


The little island in the northern part of Norway is my mother’s birthplace and my childhood summer paradise.

Every summer, my mother and father packed our little, white Beetle with suitcases, fishingrods, food and luggage. My brother and I sat in the backseat, excited about the two-day drive up north.

After hours and hours in the car, we finally arrived on the island. We had been through three trips by ferry and much arguing that made my father very angry. He would usually threaten the two of us, sitting in the backseat. He shouted: ”Hvis dere to ikke slutter å krangle nå, så SNUR JEG!!!” Fortunately, he never turned the car around, as he said he would!

When we arrive at Sandsøy, the first thing that strikes us is the size of it all. We drive on dirtroads, and one car has to yield to let the other one pass. We can drive across the island in ten minutes. Steep mountains in the mainland and other islands surround us on every corner, and the trees are not high enough to hide all the moose that live here.

I was so excited as we drove down the hill where the little red house from the late eighteen hundreds whispered, ”welcome.” I could barely wait until my mother opened the door. I ran through all the rooms, using all my senses to find out if everything was like last year and all the other years before. I saw the dust in the sunbeams coming through the windows. I smelled the familiar scent of old furniture and curtains. I heard creaking coming through the ceiling, as my father was walking upstairs to let the air in, after a whole year without visitors.

I had to climb the very steep staircase to the attic where I always could find my mum’s old and worn-out doll, Tjorven, who had been sleeping since last summer. I loved to play with her, because of her blinky eyes, spotted face and brown, curly hair. As I got older, I still had to pick her up and wake her, just to see if she was the same, like a ritual I had to do.

Every summer, the small house was bursting with people. It became the meeting point for all the relatives from all over, and my granny was the Queen of the Summer Castle. She was always in a bright mood, and her funny stories filled the house with laughter. The door was always open to neighbors and friends. Often we heard a knock at the door at two o´clock in the night. No one seemed to bother about when the day started or ended!

The adults all worked hard both in and out of the house. One summer there would be roofing, another it would be upgrading the bathroom. Now we didn´t have to run across the yard to use the outhouse, crossing knees in the middle of the night. The kids played all day, and it was great to spend the summer with our cousins, whom we saw just once a year.

The midnight sun made it nearly impossible to sleep. It was shining true all night and made a marvelous light. Although it was bright as the midday, the colours were different—shining, red and gold. During the night, we could feel that even the grass was greener than in daytime. We could often go out fishing at midnight in an old, small, greyish rowing-boat. We could look down into the cold deep water, where we could see our own reflection in a dark mirror. The sea was just waiting to give us its shiny, wriggling gifts. We would eat the fish we caught right there in the middle of the bright night.

I remember when we caught two catfish. They seemed so dangerous with their big, sharp teeth. I was both scared and excited because I felt like a real fisherwoman out there on the golden sea. We could bring only one of the beasts into the boat. The other one just hung on the outside of the boat rail, biting furiously on a wooden stick.

From what I can recall, my childhood summers never had any bad weather. There were just sunny days and sunny nights and lots of really good memories.
As all these memories come so vibrantly to life, I now realize that I should  share these  memories with my son—I have to bring him along to my island up north to experience this beautiful place, and maybe Sandsøy also will become his childhood summer paradise.