2. Petra’s youth and teenage years

When Petra was growing up she had many friends and their playing activities consisted of a great variety of games. Toys, as we know them, were scarce and therefore the children in Stöðvarfjörður, as other children in Iceland during the Great Depression, had to be inventive and use their imagination. The biggest and the most accessible playground was therefore nature itself with all it´s wonderous "toys."

The creeks in Stöðvarfjöður were full of trout that Petra and her friends captured and put in little buckets. They used sticks, strings and hooks that they got from their fathers and then they made little ponds where they kept the catch of the day. They fed the trout with worms and insects that they found and then tried to teach them all kinds of tricks. When indoors, knitting, and sewing was a popular children's pastime. Petra used to recall when she and her girlfriends spent many hours doing handiwork, chatting or humming their favorite songs. Most of the children's games were performed outdoors and in the wintertime the hills above the village were an ideal place for skiing, skating and all kinds of adventures.

Petra acquired most of her education from her parents and a travelling instructor. School, as we know it, didn't open in Stöðvarfjörður until 1933when Petra was eleven years old, but she enjoyed learning and she was an A student. Even though she liked mathematics, Icelandic studies, natural history etc., her favourite subject was always physical education. Handball was her sport of choice and later she won many victories on the handball pitch.

As a child Petra helped with housework and as time went by her obligations grew and it wasn't always easy for a youngster. Still, Petra claimed, the work was a part of the children's playing environment and the children, and the teenagers, loved to take part in the work when there was a lot to be done. The grownups also participated in the children´s games. In that way children, teenagers and adults connected on the playground as they did in the workplace, which created a unique sense of solidarity.

When Petra reached her adolescence the main source of entertainment were special evening gatherings that she and her friends engineered. In those days the population of Stöðvarfjörður was only eighty people and therefore young people of a broad age span participated in these gatherings. Some of those youngsters were mature enough to write the material themselves and they wrote poetry, plays and stories about everyday live in the fjord. From time to time they also undertook more ambitious tasks like some of the classical Icelandic plays. When Petra and her friends met in smaller groups they still maintained the tradition of storytelling. In the winter time ghost stories were very popular and, in the benighted little village, Petra said that sometimes the walk home appeared to be extremely long. Jón Ingimundarson, Petra's future husband, moved to Stöðvarfjöður when he was fourteenNenni, as he was always called, and Petra soon became good friends and later fell in love. How that came about Petra would never discuss, and the only thing she had say about it was this: "We noticed each other like kids do."


A Time to say Goodbye (From the book Petra)

I often imagine myself in the mountains as I lay my head on the pillow

Petra Sveinsdóttir"I have been very fortunate as my health is concerned, particularly with my hands which I have used incessantly through my days. That must be due to my spending much of my time out of doors. I am by no means afraid of death. I do not expect to be able to keep going as if nothing had happened, but most surely I shall not be wiped out altogether. I do not necessarily believe that the Devil is lurking on one side of the road, trying to hunt me down, with God Almighty hovering on the other side and I am convinced that there is a lot more of exciting phenomenon’s in this world than meets the eye in our everyday existence. I do not regret anything, I am reconciled and I wouldn´t like to change anything, even if I could live life all over again. I do some knitting from dusk to dawn and I often imagine myself in the mountains as I lay my head on the pillow."

Petra passed away on January 10, 2012, six weeks after the book was published in Icelandic