The Refsneshagen Homestead

A summer day in 1913

Olai runs along the road to Refsneshagen. In his pocket he has the letter to Uncle John in America. He hurries a little, as his mother has told him to come straight back home, since dinner is almost ready.

He knows the road well; he has walked it with his father many times. Like last year, when they ran to check the huge herring catch that the fishermen brought home after weeks at sea, or at Christmas when his grandfather arrived by boat from Lensvika.

There is always so much going on down by the docks, and Olai cannot restrain himself when he hears the sound of the steamboat entering the bay. It is always exciting to see what and who the boat is carrying. In a few leaps he is down on the quay. There are many people waiting for the boat. At the end of the pier he spots Anna from the neighboring farm. She is dressed in her finest clothing. Olai and Anna used to play together when they were little, but now she works as a housemaid in the city and is on her way back after a short visit to the family farm. On the quay, many crates of freshly caught salmon from the vorp at Refsneset stand ready to be loaded onto the steamboat. Maybe they will eventually end up in England! Olai dreams about taking the boat into town one day, but it won’t happen until after his confirmation, so he will have to wait a few more years.

But, the letter! He must not forget the letter; it’s supposed to travel with the boat to Trondheim. He speeds up the hill and nearly stumbles into a couple of guys passing their waiting time playing poker. Inside the general store and post office he notices how hungry he is. The smell of Ingeborg’s freshly baked buns from the bakery in the basement is almost more than he can take. The counter is also filled with temptations; candy in various colours and a jar of caramels. Yes, even the freshly ground coffee smells good now that he’s so hungry. But Olai only has enough money to post the letter. He makes it just in time, right before the bag of mail disappears down the hill and onto the boat.

Before going back home, Olai stops to admire the garden. No one but Sophie has such a lovely garden with so many beautiful flowers. Among cherry trees and hawthorn are small paths, and there are colourful flowers everywhere. He wants to pick some to bring home to his mother, but he manages to restrain himself and heads home for a dinner of freshly caught mackerel.

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