August 11, 2008

Larvik, at last

An evening view from Larvik Harbour. It occurs to me that if Magnus sailed from Larvik, this would have been the view he saw as his boat pulled from the harbour. It is, at least, a scene he knew (minus a few buildings).

Sunday morning I left Oslo for Larvik in the pouring rain. No matter. Throughout the journey, I could barely contain my excitement...especially after I entered Vestfold. Suddenly the names of towns and places I'd thought about and imagined for so long began to appear on the road signs we passed - the names becoming more and more poignant and moving as I approached places known by the Tolstrups - Hedrum & Tjølling, especially. At the turn-off for Tjølling - a place that looms particularly large for me - I whispered "I'm here" to Mathias and Magnus, father and son. They've become important to me in this endeavour. They parted in 1885, when Magnus at age 18 left for America...2 years later Mathias died and I've wondered about their last parting: what did they say to each other? did they think they'd see each other again? was their parting full of sorrow, hope, regret, excitement, fear? Somehow, I feel it's part of my task at present to reconnect these two in particular and my inclination is to locate the site of the family farm in Rekkevik (outside Larvik) - or better yet, Mathias' grave - and bring a stone from there to Magnus' grave in Malden, Mass.

My first few hours in Larvik were cold, with a driving sideways rain. I found my lovely B&B (ElleVilla) and settled in. I felt tired, overwhelmed & unprepared - perhaps even a little fearful of not finding or sensing any connections here so opted to spend some time at my lovely little desk looking out over the garden to the Old Larvik Church and catching up on my blog entries.
My room is upstairs - just to the left (yes, left) of the balcony.
This photo is called "My homage to Margitte" and is the view out mywindow to Larvik Kirke (the steeple in the background).
Larvik Kirke
The rain stopped at about 7pm, so I walked around the old part of Larvik, which is the area around the Larvik Kirke - much of which dates to the 17th century (so Magnus and Mathias would have seen some of this, too)
Behind the church - a granite-strewn coast. I don't know why, but I have the feeling that Magnus liked this spot. Maybe he sat here and tried imagine America.

I have the feeling that the sign for the MONSTER TRUCK RALLY wasn't there in Magnus' day!

Perhaps you (past and present) Maldenites will think I'm crazy, but Larvik reminds me a bit of Malden - particularly around the Noble Hill area (but so, for that matter, did Nogales, Mexico!) - and I can see why the Tolstrups may have chosen to settle there. Many of the houses are similarly built to the Noble St house - steep, narrow, 2-stories with small,deep yards and compact gardens. Larvik,too, is built into a hillside, so the streets are quite wind-y and up and down (very steep in some parts - and after I've spent a week here, you might find it hard to keep up with me in Ireland, Jim!)

1 comment:

Max, Ebbie and the Fuzzheads said...

Really pretty. Seems like your really connecting to the place, I'm so glad Norway has been so interesting for you thus far. Eagerly awaiting more!