Obrestad Lighthouse: Where the eye meets the horizon

Obrestad Lighthouse:  Where the eye meets the horizon
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Text and photos by Sigrid Thorbjørnsen; Music (bottom of page) Ulf Lundell’s “Öppna landskap.”  

“Jag trivs bäst i öppna landskap….
I feel best in open landscapes,
by the sea I want to live.
For a few months every year,
so that my soul can get some rest.
I feel best in open landscapes
where winds are gaining speed”

sings Ulf Lundell to me. I sink into the couch and close my eyes.

There’s something about the stanzas that play on the strings of my own soul, which is moved by the rusty voice, passion, defiance and the description of a coast, of my coast, my memories, my own stormy seas, my own life, and my own soul.

In Jæren, a little piece of Norway, a rocky and rough-weathered piece of Norway, is a coastal strip of pebbly beach, a cultural place, and Obrestad Lighthouse. The lighthouse, opened in 1873, is today a cultural heritage building that is well worth exploring. The stone fences, made by sweat and toil, which meanders through the landscape like miniature mountain ranges, create their own landscapes within the landscape and welcome you with cold, strong, moss-covered arms.

When the sun rises, the sea glitters like a chest of gold, the sky is the deepest blue, and the horizon is quiet. It can be difficult to see where the sea ends and the sky begins. The light is completely unique, and these rare delights – written in hymns, songs, short stories, and novels – are a witness of there being a heaven.

“Jag trivs bäst i fred och frihet….
I feel best when peace and freedom,
reign both in body and soul.
There is no one living close to
me, who fences in and steals”

continues Ulf Lundell singing. And I know exactly what he feels. The open landscape, the embrace and stroke by the wind, the salty drops and shaggy hair, gives me peace of mind and soul. Freedom comes when I feel the need to scream towards the sea. No one listens, the sea is too noisy to care, while I get all the tensions, poor energy, and frustration drained from me. The freedom to say things out loud, what is not supposed to be said out loud. Everything goes into the sea and the sea keeps my secrets.

A visit to a small church, seating only 15 people, is the house of God, as, are all other cathedrals. Located between the families buried long time ago, the crosses and grave stones with moss and salt water, the church and its history testifies that I was not the first one here. They chose to stay, accept weather, nature, and the rocky landscape, and finally give back [themselves to nature]. I just visited quietly to see, listen, and feel. And if quality were to  be measured in time, I’ve been there for years. The short moment in the cemetery of the small church gave me perspectives, stories, amazing pictures, a deeper understanding of how coastal people have struggled and toiled. And I felt peace of mind.

With my back to the church, the history surrounding me, wind in my hair, facing the ocean, eyes connect with the horizon. My soul changes its course, my concerns are gone, and life is in balance.

“Jag trivs bäst när havet svallar….
I feel best when dawn’s approaching,
when fields are filled with light”

Lundell sings, and I agree. Farther sunken into the couch I am sitting on now, with my eyes closed, I go back to memories of the horizon, the smells, winds, raindrops which lashed my face in one moment and the next moment the sun stroked my cheek as if to say, “sorry, I’m a little undecided today.”

Continuing this trip, a visit to Hå Old Vicarage (Hå gamle prestegård) is next. Hå Old Vicarage is, as the name indicates, a former vicarage, built in 1637 and now converted as a meeting place for people where history meets contemporary art. It has amazing exhibits, and waffles with coffee is always welcome. Again Ulf Lundell pops up and sings

“Där bränner jag mitt brännvin själv….
there I distill snaps on my own,
and spice it with St. John’s wort bloom,
and drink it with utmost delight,
with herring and home-baked bread.”

Hå Old Vicarage does not provide the exact same menu, but rather real, good, local food. Hå Old Vicarage provides shelter, and gives to the body what the soul can not, nutrition in the best homemade manner.

Eyes closed, I’m now reliving the weather, landscape, the lighthouse that lights the way, the church that guards and protects, fences that bear witness to toil and struggle – the art, sound, food, and pleasure.

I see nature and life, and again, I see that the horizon is quiet, and that life is in balance.


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