Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll
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130

He has also roped up the new well cover, which took him

several hours. And he has to gather the new roof gutters

strewn all over the ground and place heavy rocks on top of

them before he is able to crawl home again, by which time

he is so drenched and his face so contorted that Ingrid can

hardly recognise him.

She doesn’t like these storms, the creaking in the house and

the trumpet blasts from the pipes, the whole universe in

turmoil, the wind which tears the breath out of her lungs

when she is in the barn with her mother, which drives the

moisture from her eyes and sweeps her into walls and

bowed trees, forcing the entire family to camp down in the

kitchen and living room, where even there they don’t get a

wink of sleep. Even Martin sits still when the Winter Storm

ravages his island, with a cap on his head and his great

hands resting like empty, immovable shells on his knees.

Except when he is holding Ingrid, who shuttles between

him and the table and the oven and the larder, and sits on

the peat holder, dangling her feet, after which she goes

back to Grandad and plays with his hands as if they were

teddy bears.

The adults are stony-faced. They whisper and scowl and

make attempts to laugh but see through their own play-

acting and turn serious again, true enough the buildings on

Barrøy had withstood everything so far, but that is no more

than proof of the past: once there was a house in Karvika,

there isn’t any longer.