What Pegman Saw – Family Matters

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is the Faroe Islands. When Hitler overran Denmark, Britain occupied the Faroe Islands to deny him a strategic base in the North Atlantic.

WPS - Family Matters - 180708

Nordragota, Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark | Google Maps

Family Matters

November was a rotten month for starting my new job as civilian secretary of the British Consul to the Faroe Islands. There were six hours of gloomy daylight, shortening every day. Even without air-raids the drabness made the war feel real.

But the family I lived with were lovely. Johanna, the matriarch, let me help about the house; and twice a week she let me join in the chain dance, holding her youngest son Olavur’s hand and chanting words I didn’t understand.

“You are my daughter,” said Johanna. “Four boys I bore, but no girls. Now I have you, Catherine.”

Winter ebbed, and the men went to sea. Then, on March 28th 1942, the trawler SELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8Nyggjaberg SELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78was sunk by the Germans and Johanna lost three of her sons.

She didn’t smile for two years – not until she first cuddled my newly born son, while Olavur, proud dad, looked on joyfully.

17 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Family Matters

  1. Dear Ivor
    Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. When I was researching for this story I read about how people had danced the chain dance in their homes for hundreds of years, and it had preserved their culture. This seemed such a lovely idea that I wrote a story where the chain dance draws fresh life into the family through the person of a British immigrant.
    With very best wishes
    Penny

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    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the historical perspective appealed. It was in some ways quite a difficult prompt, because the Faroese seem – by and large – to have avoided the grand sweep of history (and a good job too!) But the chain dance gave them a sense of continuity and identity, so I wrote about that, but in a modern, recognisable setting. (Modern! Huh! You can tell I’m old!)
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Karen
      I’m delighted that my story gave you goosebumps! In a strange way, I didn’t weave in the culture and history; rather, the story emerged from the culture. The chain dance is all about the continuity of culture.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Francine
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. When I read about the chain dance, how it was danced at home as well as in public, and how it had maintained Faroese culture for hundreds of years, I realised how powerful it was. Catherine is almost dragged into the family by the power of the dance. Or, you could say that the family offered her warmth and she responded with openness.
      So your comment about the kinship and those bonds helping Johanna bear her losses is exactly the way I was thinking about the story.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  2. How touching, that the mother’s joy was rekindled by meeting her grandson.

    The pain of losing one child, much less three of one’s four children, is hard for many of us in younger generations, whose lives have enjoyed a period of relative peace, to fathom. The smaller families of today are the luxury of a generation or two, who, for the most part, are only casually acquainted with war. And who are certainly not acquainted with war on the scale this family has had to endure.

    Lets hope our blissful ignorance will continue for some time to come.

    Well portrayed warm relationship between the newcomer and the family, enriched by fascinating customs and hospitality, resulting in the gift of new life!

    Like

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