Almost out of bed – with Mary.
By Mary – day 8
Well, yesterday was almost a normal day. Normal as in I woke up and watched a lot of short funny videos sent to my phone. Lungs felt ….gosh, not very heavy. Cough has subsided. So I got out of bed. Felt good. Got dressed. Felt restrictive. It’s been rather nice not strapping myself into a bra every day. But this only really makes for trouble though as husband keeps asking to see my boobs.
I went down stairs and then did a few things here and there which did not involve showing my boobs and then at about 6 o’clock I thought about food and noticed half a glass of wine on the table.
Oh that looks nice, I think. One sip won’t hurt.
I took a large sip. The red juicy flavor of an Italian vineyard was deep and warm. I thought of how good it was going to taste with the home made lasagna heating in the oven. Husband relaxed to see me feeling better. He smiled. He must have thought that after some wine, I might show him some flesh.
We started a conversation face to face. A novel thing to do, these days. I am still over two meters away. I started telling him about my sister Rebecca and her coronavirus that she took to Berlin from London and had to quarantine for 14 days in a shut down hotel when, I felt a deep sinking feeling in my torso. My liver probably needed more oxygen to break down the Italian wine and so down I sat and internally, very quickly, down I sank.
It was horrible.
I can only describe it as a weight that you have on the end of a fishing line. When you release it to the depths it falls and falls and falls until it hits the sea bed. Free and plummeting it abandons itself to the physics of water until it can travel no more. That’s what it felt like, in my chest, a deep heavy sinking sensation that made me draw deeper on the air to keep my buoyant. I went to bed.
And here I shall stay. There is no point in going downstairs if I can’t do what I usually do downstairs which is, around evening time, have a glass of wine with some food and a conversation with Husband.
I woke up today thinking of the weight, which has since lifted. I just have a lot of aches and pains around my back. A lot. And the cough is easing. But the sinking weight reminded me something. It reminded me of going to Norway for Hege’s (pronounced Hedge’s) wedding and fishing on the Fjords with my dad. I caught a fish that was eating a fish that was eating a fish. And so today, whilst I sit in my bed, with just the pillows and the last of the midget gems, I thought I would share this story with you now.
Almost out of Bed with Mary part 4
The Story of When I Caught a Fish eating a Fish Eating a Fish eating a hook– no lie!
Norway is a wonder of a place. It is nothing like England or Scotland or Wales. There is something so impressively honest about the place. Even the prices of the wine doesn’t put me off going.
We were off to Hege’s wedding. She was finally going to marry Peter, thank the heavens. After 20 years of toing and froing they found their medium of love and this event was going to be such a wonder to witness, it could not be missed.
Sister Elizabeth came along with her young son and her husband Fred, flew over from Italy to join us. He was armed with Marlboro lights and a thirst for wild salmon. We hired a very large car, more of a minibus, I recall.
Once we had strapped in children and assumed the pecking order that is a family coach, we set off on tarmac. The sun was high in the sky and the clouds had all gone away.
I asked my dad, Where we were going?
We had five days until the nuptials and had to get from the South of Oslo to Lillehammer some four hours drive to the North.
Let’s just follow our noses, he said. There you go, Mary, there’s the map.
I looked at the map. I observed where we had started from and where we needed to finish. I saw some nice sounding places. That sounds pretty I said, Christiansand, then passed the map to Oliver who closed it and passed it to Fred, who passed it to Liz who used it as a napkin on her knee. She peeled an orange.
We were following our noses that were pleased with the sweet citric air of the car as it married with the warm grey smell of Norwegian tarmac. Singing along to the radio, into the unknown, we drove, all trusting our noses, together. One father with two son in laws, two daughters and two grandchildren. No one was happier than we were, that day. No one that I knew of.
Driving along the Norwegian coast feels like a perpetual rhythm of ins and outs. Our noses took us to one destination that we liked the look of; Sandjeford. We left the car to look at the accommodation, which our eyes didn’t like. So on we went. Back in the family Mercedes bus, we drove on. So now what are we going to do, I asked Dad. We just keep following our noses and see where we get to. You need to trust your nose, he said, tapping his.
And so we did. A few hours later we found ourselves in a place called…. something …Sand. It was beautiful.
At a family friendly camping spot with cabins, facing a glistening fjord we met a nice Norwegian who owned the place, he had a small boat which he was keen for us to use.
Our accommodation was a pretty cabin made of yellow pine that smelt of sweet grass and candle light. The ornate door opened to comfort, white sheepskins and warmth. It is the closest I have ever come to sleeping and showering in a cuckoo clock. And there was enough room for all of us. We all congratulated Dad’s nose and all our noses for bringing us to this place and that night I snuggled up next to my baby and fell asleep to the distant sound of an imaginary ticking.
The men would go out fishing during the day and my sister and I would wait with our babes for the catch. Knives and breadboards at the ready. When they left we would push our small prams around the fjord and explore the surrounds. Lots of pine cones, pine needles and sand made up the ground and cabins that were skirted with red plants in tidy pots. Very tidy the Norwegians, you know. They look after their stuff.
If you walked far enough around the fjord you came to a large wooden building that was a clinic. What type of clinic, I don’t know but every morning and evening lots of people from the clinic would come out and bathe in the dark water. Stout women in rubber caps. Maybe they are all depressed, said Liz and they are overcoming some sort of trauma. Maybe, I agreed. Or maybe they have all just lost someone they love and need some space to be calm. Maybe, said Liz.
That evening when baby was asleep I took the fishing rod to the jetty where the boat was tied up. I had waited all day for my fishing moment and being a girl in my father’s company meant that I was not a fishing priority. I was a woman breast feeding a child. Why would I want to fish. Who would mind the baby?
The summer sun lit the sky and even though it was almost eleven at night, the light was an amber dawn.
I cast the weight and hook into the water away from the boats on ropes that clunked nearby. I looked out to the distant lights holding the rod. Just me and the slopping noise under the jetty. Peace.
I must have stood there for only a few minutes when I felt something bump the rod. Then there was a tug. I tugged back. Then another tug. I began to reel the line in. It didn’t feel that heavy but there was a lot of wriggling and bumping going on. Which got wrigglier and bumpier and heavier the more I reeled. Soon I was stood over the catch which I had landed onto the jetty. I looked down. What kind of fish was it? It was long and pink coloured. But there was no hook in its mouth. There was though, a smaller fish which looked like it was being regurgitated, or eaten. One of the two. And this little fish whose tale was in the pink fishes mouth was also eating something. It was eating a much smaller fish and it was this fish that had eaten my hook.
Wow, I thought. That is amazing. I couldn’t save the tiddler that had munched on my hook but the others were tossed back to the water, back to their game of survival that would continue under the banging boats on ropes.
Now, if smart phones were a thing in 2006, I would have photographed my catch, but they were not. Or at least, I didn’t own one. My phone only allowed you to text, make calls or play a game called snake.
I was pleased though, I had actually caught a fish eating a fish eating a fish eating my hook. And me being a woman! A lactating woman at that!
When I got back to the cuckoo clock I told my family.
You would never guess what just happened to me. I caught a fish eating a fish eating a fish eating the hook on the end of the fishing line! Everyone looked at me. Baby smiled. She wanted milk.
No you didn’t said Oliver. Yes I did. No you didn’t, Mary, said Dad. Yes I did. I just did then, on the jetty, by the boats tied up with ropes. I did, honest. Why don’t you believe me? I did! Just now!
I thought their disbelief, mean. They thought my story hilarious and so we went round and round. I did, honestly. Just then, trust me. No you didn’t, stuff like that doesn’t happen. Yes it does I say, it just happened to me, just before. On the jetty.
And on it went until they all finished down their last swallow of Italian red wine and faded off to bed. Liz believed me. That’s great that Mar’, she said. Hey, next time you go make sure you take me. I want to see what it’s like to catch a fish eating a fish eating a fish eating the hook. Ooh, smelly. Baby needs changing. And she handed me baby Honor and went to sleep herself. I looked at baby Honor. You believe me don’t you. She blinked and looked down at my chest. And pulled at my jumper.
The next day Dad took Liz and me for our own fishing experience, he might have thought I was having fishing delusions with my story of multiple fish on one hook. Maybe. Or perhaps he thought I had a gift for catching a reality food chain?
We sped off in the small boat, him at the tiller steering away from the jetty, the husbands, the cuckoo clock, the children. We were having some father and daughter time. We fished and talked and laughed, considering that mum had only died in October we seemed happy. It was June, after all and there was a new baby amongst us. Being on the boat with my dad, was a special experience. He was a great fisherman and with his girls of course, all he did was re-tie hooks to lines, attach our lures and weights and tell us again and again how best to fish. After a while we would bring the lines back in the boat and go somewhere else. All the time our vessel was heading nearer the small harbour across the fjord.
Before long we had lost all the tackle to the rocks below which meant no more fishing. We had to go shopping. Yay!
There is nothing nicer that tootling across some water, then tying up your boat so that you may go shopping. He was great to take shopping, my dad. He understood the need for good sunglasses, a new rain coat, and some more fishing tackle. He got it. Maybe this was his little plan all along, get the girls fishing then take the girls shopping. Probably.
Later that week we made it up to a different cabin on the shores of Lake Mjøsa. The sky was still blue, the sun was still burning the ground. We relished the pretty red wooden houses and road signs that made us aware of the moose. We passed tall pines, mile after mile after mile. The mountains were green the river we sped next to was blue and white, some river bed rocks were parched dry. Hot to the touch, I imagined.
The morning of Peter’s and Hege’s wedding, the men decided to go a-fishin’. This time it was on a river, a contributory to the Mjøsa.
One hour, two hours, three. Still no return.
The wedding was at 1? Can’t remember. They had left early. Rods in hands and flies in boxes.
I tried not to worry. Liz and I busied ourselves with the business that is being beautiful. How was I going to breast feed and wear this strapless dress? Liz looked at me. You need a shawl, she said. I didn’t have one. This would present some public awkwardness later on but this story is not about breast feeding. No.
Where was I?
Yes. Liz and I were dressed and ready and the children were also ready and washed and clean and fed and ready to go the wedding on the hottest day in Norwegian history. The gulf stream is real. I have felt it.
But. Where were the men? We looked up the campsite past the cabins, walked up river in party shoes staring in to the distance past the trees. We couldn’t see much. Time was ticking. We had taken four days to get up to Lillehammer. We couldn’t possibly be late.
With minutes to spare, back they came, one by one. They had set off as a trio and came back not knowing where the other one was. First Dad, he wanted a shower, then Oliver, he was too late for a shower and then Federico, who nearly didn’t make it, at all.
We get to the church. The Norwegians are dressed in their beautiful national dress, all hot, all clothed in wool, all proud and flushed.
As we sit in the church which was made purely from wood and painted to look like marble. Oliver looks at me.
I return his gaze. Sorry we were late, he said. Mary, the fish, you’ve never seen anything like it. I hand him baby who plays with his nose.
As he tried to tell me about the river, the fields the trees, the flies, how he got lost, how he found his way back again, just in time, in walks Hege. Dressed like a bride should be and beautiful.
The vicar starts the service, Oliver is still telling me about his fishing. He stops talking for a few minutes. Then he starts again, he wants me to know the size of the fish he caught. How amazing the feeling was, what he did with it. He whispers in my left ear, telling me how he landed it. How much it fought his line, how he nearly fell in trying to land it. It was amazing, he says. The most thrilling catch, the biggest fish…..just brilliant…
I don’t believe you, I say.
What? He says. I’m telling you. I caught a fish. Why don’t you believe me?
I listened to the wedding vows recited in the chunky Norwegian dialect and considered the time it had taken the person who painted the pillar next to us to turn a wooden tree trunk into an Italian marble pillar. He insisted, I caught a fish.
I don’t believe you.
Why not he asked.
I don’t know I said, maybe for the same reason that you didn’t believe me when I told you that I had caught a fish eating a fish eating a fish eating a hook. I looked at him, he laughed. Yeah but it’s not the same thing is it.
I looked away.
And suddenly Hege agreed to her wedding vows with a very loud YAH! We all jumped and laughed. She was certain that’s for sure.
No doubt in her mind, what so ever. What so ever.
NB: I hope you have enjoyed this blog, I hope you are all well and I hope that if anything amazing ever happens, like overcoming coronavirus or catching four fish on one hook or telling someone you love them or being told by some one that they love you, I hope that you are believed and trusted, to be telling the truth. And so are they. Without a shadow of a doubt.
Until next time. xx