When the storm howls – when the snow whisper...
We barely dared to make our way across. The wind was shaking and tearing at the car and the bridge’s cables were screeching around us as it sighed and shivered in its endeavors to fling us back to whence we came.
We had stood and felt the east wind for a while before we decided. Paid the toll and began the journey into the night. Like visitors at a carnival, buying tickets to feel the rush of the roller coaster, we fastened our seat belts and held white-knuckled onto the wheel. We experienced the taste of fear mingled with pleasure, with considerably more fear than pleasure. We told ourselves that the bridge would have been closed if it hadn’t been safe to drive across.
A car slowly approaches from the opposite direction. We catch a glimpse of the driver as our lights hit the windshield. Is that how we look? Tense facial expressions framed in black? The worst is over and we begin our decline. The wind lets up for a minute before pulling us to the edge again. For a fleeting second, right before the wheels land safely on solid ground again, we sense it more than we see it. A glimpse of the cylindrical house on the hillside. The wind’s house.
The next day was as still as the previous night stormy. Snow covered the bottom of the Helgeland Bridge, which spans the sound in the low winter sun like a newly tuned harp. The wind’s house stood as firmly as the night before. Its back a shield against the road and its face toward the sea, with white walls that were cold and rough to the touch. The letters on the wall gleam in black defiance and make strange sounds in the mouths of those trying to pronounce them. Humidus minus. Callidus magis.
The shiny metal fans in the cylindrical wall move slowly, as though still exhausted from the ordeal of the previous night. Four slender columns support the flat, square roof and the house stands in its severity, simple and bearing a secretive expression. So different from the mountain profiles and the rock-face around it. So removed from Alstahaug’s historical odor of tar and wood. It appears more as a whitewashed chapel. A space for airy visions. Neither entrance nor exit. Only these round holes filled with fans that allow us to peek into the space as they slowly circle round and round. Small holes with fans and large holes with fans. The room is closed. No one comes in or goes out. Yet it is possible to read the text on the wall. Meridies. Oriens.
The lowest fans have grating in front. We heard rumors that the wind was so powerful that the fans were drawn out of the holes. The wind’s house. There is certainly plenty of wind. Wind and stone. And sea. The white cylinder is none of the above. Or everything. It is made of stone, it is made for wind and it sings along with the ocean in storms. However, it speaks a foreign language, unlike any ever heard before. Not everyone understood it at first. Some did not want to understand. Those listening carefully understand what the House of Winds wants to say but they must be there at night, when a storm rages and when the snow whispers. Just try, you will hear it. Frigidus minus. Humidus magis.
House of Winds
It’s storming around House of Winds. An icy, biting wind from the mountains shivers down the mountain slopes, crosses the fjord and chases the sea into turmoil with ice-cold blasts. House of Winds moans under the outside forces. It is always forces from outside that makes the life of the house vibrate. The untamed forces creep their way into peering openings. From inside the house one hears squeaking wails. There is such pitiful crying in House of Winds on such a night, and the wailing increases and increases. While the outside forces greedily embrace the house, it raves as if in pain. Faster and faster all the vibrating parts of the house chase around, complain, fight, gain strength and produce pain. Or is it perhaps a growing strength, a reluctance, a new force?
Greedily the sea laps at the foundations around House of Winds. But it stands there without fear. I can hear how it answers the sea, how it rants against it in fearless protest. While rotating wings create heat inside House of Winds, and cast invisible forces into the night, I grasp that the house is like us – caught in its own environment. In its stony power it is a temple to the primitive forces that come from outside. I lean towards it. My glance catches the furious rotor blades and the fury frothing from House of Winds. Confused, I realise that the primitive forces also live inside, a force I often forget and overlook, because I dare not feel so deeply, dare not listen and acknowledge this. I stand there in the blasts of wind, feel that the house has strength and power, but is also fired by a sensuality that makes it necessary to bind the forces with strong stone walls.
And then the wind drops. Suddenly, House of Winds is a temple to the tender whispering between lovers. It is the protection around the child platter and the breastfeeding mother who needs shelter. Happy laughter emits from House of Winds, while the waves die down and the night turns into a new day. The sunshine wraps itself around House of Winds, but it never reflects the heat. Only the sounds, as they pulsate in every house, are sent in return. But other houses don’t have open wounds that dare to show their pain and their joy. Other houses only have walls that hide, seldom giving anything in return. At House of Winds, I learnt everything about laughter and happiness, about sorrow and pain. I learned about everything that comes from outside and creates forces, and about inner forces that enable others to look into us. I learned I don’t know the day until the sun sets, because only then has the predicted become truth. At House of Winds I learned to whisper and I have learned to listen.
Christina Myhre Storfjord,
2. grade, Sandesjøen Comprehensive Scholl
For most taxpayers there is more culture involved in attaining enough lighting on the roads so that one can see where one is going than in deciding whether a mound of rocks is placed one place or another.
Steinar Albrigtsen, Helgelands Blad, 05.10.91
To build a sculpture for a sum of nearly half a million crowns, which looks like an oversized roll of toilet papir which stands howling on a deserted rock; yeah – the Cultural Affairs office can easily throw away money on such.
Svein Tangen, Helgeland Arbeiderblad, 03.11.1994
Just weeks after the sculpture at Alstahaug was dedicated it has been the victim of vandalism. Someone has damaged the “House of Winds” the Latin weather forecaster at Helgeland Bridge.
Helgeland Arbeiderblad, 16.09.94
Now that we are sculptors we should perhaps receive a wage increase for artists.
Carpenters Odd Pettersen and Jon Iversen,
Helgeland Arbeiderblad, 21.06.1994
We think it appropriate to give praise for the sculpture Alstahaug has erected on Skreingan. This can be a balancing factor for the many who have desired to voice their opinions against this usage of public funds. There are, of course, many who need money.
Editorial, Helgelands Blad, 16.08.94