Winter is soon here, if the climate problems don’t change the whole scenery this year too.
I’m not a freezing person. I’m usually in the need of cooling down rather than warming up. Winter and autumn is a time to be inside, the cosy cliché is almost at it best this time of the year. 30 years ago it usually happened at home, also in the city, where I had relatives. I grew up in what can now be considered a suburb, but then it was almost countryside.
Now we have the cafés, I believe everywhere.
Also in the city. They are in use, west end or east end. The atmosphere is maybe a little different in the different parts of town, but the feeling is not, it is one of hospitality, no matter whether you carry a black envelope for your Mac and has an expensive look about you or you live on social security and haven’t spent this month’s money yet. There may still be a line of class differences over the counter, but it must be diminishing. I hope the people who serve me the coffee know how much they and their work mean to us.
An elderly couple just left Kaffebrenneriet at Elisenberg as I arrived. On her way out the lady said to the two foreign men at the table next to them, and now, you two stay in Norway, right? The kind of womanly encouragement which sometimes feels a little too much when coming from someone close, but is well meant and at any rate works well at the distance of a café table. Fuel to go on, friendliness, affirmation. As an outsider in Oslo you may be surprised by the doggedness and roughness that sometimes come with it, but you can feel the love too.
This is Oslo’s actual style, when you manage to get past or tackle the annoying politeness which is also part of the culture. Roughness and a smile.
I can remember my uncle’s mother, who was a frequent guest in the family. Her face told the same story, it was slanted for some reason, and I thought, rather surprised, she is actually ugly, but she is not mean. She was always friendly to me, which made her ugliness not ugly, not dangerous. Beauty can be defined, through the golden ratio and all the other stuff in the science of the arts, but it must also contain love to be complete.
Life is a bitch, but come here, let me give you a cup of something. Cocoa, anyone?
This I grew up with.
There was, as I recall it, not many words stating these things, in my childhood not much talk of anything else than practical things or later the matters of society, so you could get the impression that there was no love at all. But there was food, drinks, a chair or a sofa, the making of an atmosphere, a room, a table with something on it.
These things are the inside part of winter, I mean, simply being inside. Going for walks was – is? – normal too, but November is not the best month for walking in the woods, and later in winter, if you had actually been skiing since morning, you needed a treat when you came home anyway.
Being heated in front of a fireplace.
Or being surrounded by the chatting of people and the energy and the calmness which come from the making of the coffee.