The Norwegian art of slow

Writers live on coffee and resisting distraction.

Hubby is in charge of the coffee around here: he roasts and brews it.

Distractions, well, those are my problem.

This week I'm unable to tear myself from the live feed from a ship travelling south along the coast of Norway, a project called Sommerb├ąten 2015. In a few days the boat will pass right by my ancestral island, where the Lysters come from, but my fascination with this very "Slow TV" phenomenon from Norway is deeper than that.

It is "hynotic." One recent night I spent hours on the phone with my daughter, both of us watching it on our own devices, noting the scenery and the light, watching the landscape of coastal Norway pass by. My husband and I keep calling out highlights from various screens. Smaller boats come and accompany the boat for a while, then trail off. Families come down to the shore, in groups around bonfires or waving signs and flags.

There are long stretches, hours long, of the boat simply sitting on the dock and you are sitting there too, looking at people walking and biking by. Yesterday there were folks on horseback. The sounds of a boat at rest. Here's a highlight reel, below. #sommerb├ąten is the hashtag, should you care to follow along.

Occasionally, in Norwegian prime time, there are little concerts and interviews, but I'd just as soon skip that. When the boat is moving between ports someone's very eclectic playlist is alongside, from Norwegian rap to American country and everything in between.

I can't embed the feed, but you can visit the page here. If the current view gets too dull you can position it back in time and see highlights from the past week. If you're lucky you'll catch the very cleverly produced Mystery on the Summer Boat drama that is part of the show. Mostly, you experience the fjords and islands and birds, and families waving.

With nearly 23 hours of sunlight this time of year, Norway is an excellent place to offer a 24 hour live feed. There's something to see at all hours, even if it is only birds going by and a change in the rain.

As distractions go, however, it's not ideal. I can keep the screen up in the corner and it doesn't need my attention very much. It's ambiant and contemplative most of the time. Even the speaking, since I only know 25 words of Norwegian, isn't as diverting as it could be.

Better, though, than the very popular overnight fireplace cam experience they called National Firewood Night in 2013. That was way too short.

So, I keep drinking coffee, keep writing. But I have no doubt that this summer's writing will have a distinct sense of space, of sea and sky, of sweaters even in July, and people waving as we pass by.


  1. sometimes it would be good to be able to just "like" a blog post rather than have anything specfic to say about it. This is lovely and atmospheric and makes me even more sure that I'm wasting my summer running round in circles and calling it "work". Have a good summer my friend

    1. Work is never wasted!

      But I sure like the idea of sitting with YOU, dear Marcella, watching the fjords go by....


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