Photography by Gunn Kristin Monsen
Words by Lisa Reid Mjaavatten
The cabin is my haven to retreat to, and being safe in your home brings an intense feeling of happiness.
I am at my happiest when I have things with meaning close to me.
The cabin is small with two tiny bedrooms, built in the 70’s with wild strawberries and blueberry bushes on a big property with pine and birch trees. Magnificent views of the surrounding mountains frame the fjords on the west coast of Norway. When we first found this place, the cabin had no electricity, no running water and could only get to by walking a few hundred meters in the woods on a narrow path from the road. It sounds a bit primitive, but I never felt it to be a problem even though we had 3 small kids.
The experience of being out in the countryside amongst the fjords and mountains, so close to nature, is beautifully peaceful and healing. I feel I am a sensitive and lost soul, and this is just the ticket I needed to get close to my own roots and reflect over my own self as a human being. I needed to find a home for my own values and my own truths. However hard that would be…
I needed this place deep in the fjords.
Many people complain about the long winters here in the north, but I love the cold and grey months. Feeling the hard rain bite against your cheeks just gives me a little reminder that we are not in charge here, its mother nature that is in control. We are here to enjoy what she brings to us and not take it for granted. Even though there can be a little bit of complaining, with a giggle or two about going outside to the long drop in minus 15 degrees. Or scraping ice off the inside of the windows in the mornings because we cannot see out. Or cutting through thick ice in the property’s well with an axe to get water to make the morning coffee.
This is adventure and we are making memories.
In recent years, we got electricity installed and there was built a road closer to the cabin so there was both less effort and more comfort staying in the little home. There was a feeling of total luxury to be able to turn a light on. The original pine paneled walls and kitchen are still intact. I work with interior for private residences daily so this to me by not changing the interior was keeping the very spirit and essence alive in the cabin. In many ways for me living a basic life and close to nature, simply brings a sense of well-being. I do not need a lot of material things, not having material ownership is incredibly liberating, but the few things I do own have a special meaning.
I want to keep it simple and uncomplicated.
The old pine and birch woodland around the cabin offer protection from the harsh weather and winds. The swaying of the branches from the hallowing winds up the fjord sing songs when I am alone. Several of the huge mountains peaks that look upon us with their steep sides drop dramatically down into the sea. The sea is as deep and inky blue as the mountains. In between two of the mountains just down the road, is a beautiful waterfall that in summer I love to shower under. There have been findings of caves that date back to the stone age, so the region is extremely old. The sheer dramatic scenery from the mountains give me a sense of comfort and content.
They are like old friends keeping an eye on us.
Christmas is a magical time, but I find it very overwhelming, so I do like to spend a lot of time at the cabin at this time of year. I feel it easier to stay grounded from all the stress. Slow weekend mornings with coffee and walk in the woods sets the mood for a creative afternoon. Making gifts like pine wreaths, homemade jams or making candles from beeswax make for something thoughtful and personal. We do not need much. A little love made by hand for me, is the ultimate gift.
In every little thing given is a meaning of love.
Over the years this place has given me a sense of belonging. After travelling and working for many years round the world and now settling down in Norway has combated my restlessness. I am here now. In my head I may be still feel a little lost, but I have learned and accepted to be kind to myself. You have only you in this world. I have freed from myself from expectations and live true to the fact that I am a self-confessed introvert. I enjoy solitude, and I love and live for the energy that nature has to offer. Nature can be so inspiring that it has given me purpose and direction with the way I work.
Both the cabin and the nature around is my own sanctuary.
Read more in our NL3 magazine, coming soon, February 2021!