Magnificent! Absolutely magnificent! These were the words Renee's mother, Monique, had used many times in her recent letters to Renee. The words were used to describe Norway, but Renee wondered if they were also describing her mother's new life with her new husband Gunder. Monique and Gunder had met a year ago aboard a Norwegian Coastal Steamer and during the 12 day sea voyage along the west coast of Norway, they had begun a whirlwind romance that ended in their marriage a few months ago.
After her divorce from Renee's father, Monique had lived alone and rarely visited her daughter. However, after finding a letter written long ago by her grandmother Helena, Monique's life changed. The letter had been written to congratulate Monique upon the birth of her daughter Renee. The finding of that letter prompted Monique to pursue a closer relationship with Renee and to learn more about her Grandmother Helena and her home country of Norway.
She began both of these pursuits, first by purchasing and moving to a small cottage in Provence to be closer to Renee, and secondly by planning a trip to Norway.
Now, a year later, Renee was standing at the window of one of the guest cottages on Gunder's farm. The view she saw out the window was indeed magnificent. Though she had seen magnificent mountains before, in Switzerland, and in Italy and her own France, these mountains that towered above the awesome beauty of the fjords, were somehow beyond magnificent.
The steep, gigantic rock walls, with tall peaks that reach for the clouds, dwarf anything and everything that man can create. It wasn't just the mountains and the fjords though, it was everything about Norway that her mother and now Renee found so wonderful. The light, especially, was spectacular. It gave everything such a crisp outline and intensified the blue of the water and the green of the valleys. It certainly rivaled the storied light of Provence that was such a magnet for artists.
This morning as she looked down at the deep blue water of the fjord and up at the snow topped mountain peaks, everything came into sharp focus under an already brilliant sun. Late last night as she and Philippe climbed into their individual alcove beds, the sun was still shining. Not the bright yellow of this morning's sun, but a soft muted pinkish glow. Soon it would be June 23rd, Midsummer's Eve, when the sun does not set at all in northern Norway and for only a few hours in Bergen. The fabled Midnight Sun, June 23rd, would be their fifth wedding anniversary and they had been invited by Monique and Gunder to celebrate the occasion here in Norway.