The last thought I had before letting myself out of my apartment, was to bring my cell phone because maybe somebody would need me to call the police or something. Yeah, right. Like that ever happens.
As promised by the weather bureau, today was an absolutely beautiful day. The sun actually came out. From my kitchen window late this morning, I could see long shadows from trees and buildings weakly striping the lawn out back. Seeing those shadows and an increasing amount of blue in the sky cheered me.
I finished baking the pumpkin pie I am bringing to the gang at work tomorrow (cuz that’s the tradition in Bergen: the birthday person treats the others to cake), and checked the weather through my living room windows (which give a more reliable report than the kitchen window does, seeing as how weather comes out of the west) as well as the outdoor thermometer on my balcony door. I put on warmer clothes, and grabbed keys and cell phone.
As I passed by the building that once housed our local grocery store, I noticed smoke coming from a parked car. Two young men ahead of me were at the car, bending down to see if they could see the source of the smoke. It smelled acrid. The men half-jokingly suggested that that car was going to blow spectacularly once that fire got going. I had never seen or smelled anything like it so I asked if we shouldn’t call someone. Trying to find the owner meant trying to find out which of the 402 apartments in our co-op the car owner lived in.
One passerby thought we should call, and his wife added that she would but didn’t bring her cell. But I had. And I even remembered the emergency number to the fire department. (In Norway, there are three different emergency numbers, depending on which service you need: 110 is fire, 112 is police, 113 is ambulance.)
I have never called the fire department before in my life. I explained the situation, a bit embarrassed because the smoke was now subsiding. But the very authoritative-sounding man who took my call wanted to know what address the car was parked at, its make, color, license plate number, what the smoke smelled like and then my name and phone number. I told him all this (though I couldn’t tell if the car was a dull black or a very dark gray; the dew on it was tricking my eyes), and volunteered my home address. He said they’d try to find the owner and send someone to check.
Well, what do you know: I did need my cell phone!
I then continued on to the local pond to walk around it in what turned out to be a virtual crowd of people. I never saw so many out walking all at once, which tells you what a lovely day it really was. The locals have the sense to take advantage of a rare reprieve from the otherwise gloomy weather we’ve been having. I, as usual, walked counter-clockwise around the path, while the majority always walk clockwise. This means that I meet the same people two or even three times as I walk around the pond. One older gentlemen, on encountering me a third time, made me laugh as he quipped, “What, again?”
We all walked in shade. The low sun was behind most of the nearby buildings and colored only the tops of the trees around the pond. The pond itself had lots of water and lots of birds and was absolutely smooth.
This isn’t an ordinary Sunday also because it is the first Sunday in Advent, the start of the church year for western Christian churches. Norwegians put electrical lights in their windows for Advent. The lights are not colored like in the US, but are usually a modest star or the favorite seven “candle” triangle. But more and more do hang American-style Christmas lights as well. Seeing all the little lights in everyone’s window adds cheer and warmth to the winter darkness. My own lights, hung up last night, are twinkling crazily in my living room window as I type this (last year I got some new-fangled thing that you can program, natch).
As I headed for home, I passed by where the smoking car was parked. It wasn’t there any more.
Not bad for my last day as a 46-year-old.