Tag Archives: Ola Nordmann

The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 25: The Sun Always Rises ; or, When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 25: The Sun Always Rises; or, When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

New birds:1, Journey to date: 74, and a correction

Svarthvit fluesnapper (Ficedula hypoleuca)

The Uke 23 entry noted the Varsler, I was mistaken. I did my due diligence uncovered the true identity, the habitat and warning call were the keys to the mystery.

Møller (Sylvia curruca)

Varsler (Lanius excubitor)

 

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A “No Fishing” sign at Lysaker Brygge, always a lure

The Sun Always Rises; or, When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

As I held out my hand a tiny gray flake alighted. Even for Oslo, a snowflake in June is a rarity. Ah, but this was no snowflake. This was Sankthansaften – Saint John the Baptist’s Eve.

My time in Norway was getting shorter, just like the nights. Sunset at this latitude and month is so slow, the angle so oblique, that the transition from direct sun to twilight is unnoticeable. The light of the just hiding sun lingers, as if the sun feels there is too much living to be done. I go to bed late, with visible light and wake to a sun that has been up for many hours. The analogy to my time in Norway has been obvious.

I have no personal tradition of celebrating Sankthansaften. My Midwestern summers accepted earlier and complete darkness in comparison to the high latitudes, perhaps in exchange for unrelenting heat. But when in Norway…

Sankthansaften also marks the end of the school and anticipation of summer holiday, the 5-6 weeks in Norway when EVERYBODY is on vacation, preferably at a coastal or mountain cabin. Side trips to America are allowed. For Scandinavians, the evening is properly observed with sea-side bonfires, maybe a speech, and revelry. I went fishing.

My catch in Norway has been zero although my satisfaction has been great. Remember, it’s called fishing and not catching for a reason. Tonight seemed like a fitting reason to whet a line – it’s nice to invent a special reason – and give it one last go.

The species of interest now in Norway is Atlantic Salmon. The mighty swimmers are coursing from near shore feasts to natal rivers. Their transformation from saltwater creatures to freshwater fish is nothing short of amazing. Their transition back to saltwater following the spawn squares the wonder.

I would not be fishing for salmon. To fish for salmon would require a car and a special fishing license, and probably a trespass fee. I fished the sea, a free right to all in Norway.

I expected nothing in terms of a piscine catch based on previous attempts, this was no different. Contemporary fishing is about the effort, the experience; I was really trying to catch a future memory. For that that there is no daily quota.

There is nothing odd about riding the bus in Oslo with fishing gear. I like Oslo. My ride on the trusty #32 Kværnerbyen dropped me adjacent to Lysaker Brygge, it was a short walk.

Merrymakers were visible in their preparation throughout the day. I saw an unusual abundance of shopping bags marked with the distinct logo of the state liquor store, the night demanded provisions. Others disembarked the bus with me, much better dressed and destined for an overtly social occasion. I headed for the docks.

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Brethren with rods in action preceded me. Long rods were their symbols of legitimacy and purpose. My kit revealed my status as an interloper, but also as no threat to their efforts.

These anglers favored floats and live bait. They seemed to me like non-native Norwegians and truly interested in catching supper. A family left with a bag of fish. I found a solitary spot and cast.

Two days earlier was the Summer Solstice. I marked the low sun of the evening with a last photoshoot of the new US Embassy and birdwalk along Lysaker River. The meteorological differences between the Iowa home and Oslo were more striking than simple statistics suggested.

Daylight in Linn County was 15 hours, 15 minutes; Oslo logged 18:50.

Sunrise CR, 5: 31 am     Sunset CR, 8:46 pm

Sunrise Oslo, 3:54 am   Sunset Oslo, 10:45 pm

 

But the truer measure went beyond the gross metrix of sunrise and sunset. Dawn awakened at 2:10 AM in Oslo and dusk at 12:29 AM. If there were stars over Røa, then I missed them.

With the abundant light it was difficult to make out all the fires that I knew ringed the fjord. The ubiquitous smell of smoke confirmed to my nose what I eyes couldn’t see. Clearly, Ola Nordmann across the bay from me was no master of a healthy flame. That “bonfire” finally smoked me out and caused my retreat.

A new location, closer to the hungry anglers and a couple of last casts for good measure. A man hauled in mackerel, scrappy and lean they were soon brained and in the bucket. I took down my pole and pit stopped at the corner market on my way to the bus. Instead of fish, I would be headed home with mineral water and candy. I was sure Meghan would be happy with my catch.

Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.

The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 9: Signs and Trails

The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 9: Signs and Trails

Top of World! I’m writing these words from our planet’s most northern city, Hammerfest. This is my new record for latitude and longitude. Sun had set by the time I landed so the wonders of this oasis in the arctic will have to wait another day.

New birds: zero

(Raphus cucullatus)

 

Signs and Trails
imageWhoosh, I’m trying this at home, err…on my skis. I suppose I feel at home on my boards. The speed, the wind in my face, the sights flashing past my eyes, and the occasional rumble of my skis. I feel so free.

But upon reflection, I was not free. No, not barreling down that hill, not at any time during the entire jaunt, never free. As testament to how contrived my run down the hill was, this was actually my second run. During my first descent I realized this would be cool to film skiing down past the Olympic stadium, so up I climbed to run it again (note, the “short” video was too long to load).

The Friluftsliv beacons me as a concept; it’s an ideal. And yet, the pursuit of Friluftsliv probably isn’t attainable for me. Perhaps it is more analogous to a journey than a destination. Yet, pursue I shall, mediated by signs and trails.

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I dragged my skis along on this trip to Lillehammer. This visit was much anticipated. One, I would get to give lectures to education students at the local university. Two, I would give the lectures with my friend, brother-from-another-mother, and fellow Rover, Andy. Three, I was glued to the television in 1994 watching the Olympics and eating up everything Norway that NBC was willing to dish out. My heros skied in Lillehammer, and now I would too.
For 30 kroner I caught the city bus up the mountain, I think that’s pretty good as lift tickets go. My destination was the Birkebeineren stadium, but in true Norske fashion, the bus doesn’t actually take you there. Too decadent perhaps. Rather, you literally got dropped off on the side of the road, at a seemingly random blue sign, into a snowbank. Next, clamber over the bank onto a trail, and then to ski to the stadium. Still a small price, and frankly a much more romantic way to get to the stadium and the faded echoes of olympics past.
My arms were still killing me from last week but Lillehammer called and I was damn sure gonna answer. The sun had fallen behind the mountain but there was plentiful light to take a small lap around the Abbortjernet lake loop. I just had to get back to the road in time to make the 6:30 bus or it would be a very dark and long walk to the hotel.
People were skiing but not too many, just the way I liked it. I skied out of the stadium area and onto the Birkie trail. Let’s chalk this up to research. A familiar “Powerline” stretch and a series of right turns took me back in due time. Homework complete, I only had to wait for Thursday for my longer effort, and hopefully with more functional arms.
Later than intended but outfitted with spiffy new skiing glasses with the tilt-up lenses, I paid my 30 kroner and ascended to the stadium again. We were three on the #6 bus, I was the only skier. What do the locals who don’t ski do during the winter? The noise and vibrations from the chains on the tires were comforting, a bus on these roads demanded confidence.
The heavy overcast probably looked flat and especially cold, unless you were on skis and reveling in the surroundings. A couple of young men were practicings biathlon. There was no special fencing or warning. In Norway they trust you to make good decisions and then live with the consequences; i.e. if there are guys shooting guns then keep your distance. There would be no one to sue if you got shot.
My new app, Skisporet, helped me plot a reasonably adventurous course up and around a mountain. However, my ability to read maps (when you’re out of cell-phone range) has been found to be God awful in Norway. My apologies Senior Drill Instructor Sgt. Dominguez.
Despite my effort to read the signs, the trail seemed to take me where the trail wanted to go. On I skied. A light snow of large wet flakes hushed the woods and gave me a sense of solitude to a greater degree than was accurate. Within 20 minutes I had stripped off my windbreaker and heavy wool sweater. Without wind, a wool undershirt sufficed to keep me warm enough.
The signs pointed me towards Sjusøen and I followed. I skied at Sjusøen in December, I didn’t realize how close it was to Lillehammer. On this side of the valley is a world of well-groomed and interconnected ski trails. My head spins at all the possibilities of adventure, I lifetime might not be enough.
I stayed on the trail. I kept to the right side of the wide groomed surface bordered by parallel lines for traditional skiers, coming and going. Frequently I met a senior citizen from the other direction, I always gave a smile and I always got one in return. Several times I was passed by a silver-haired streak, that made me smile too.
The trail split, to the left was towards Sjusøen, higher and farther from Lillehammer, but with an aura of mystery and potential. Right was clearly a more direct path to my starting point. Discretion being the better part of valor, I skied left. The signs and the trail were clear.

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I was lucky I missed my turn for the higher mountain because this area of trails rested on a shelf. So while on a mountain, the trails were paradoxically level. The trails were well marked and I supposed if you had to ask for help then it would come freely.
There were signs and trails that contrasted with the manicured scene. On occasion a narrow path darted into the woods, a sign to seemingly nowhere: an ungroomed trail.
While Ola Nordmann may have a reputation for taking to the wilds, at least here those side trails were usually covered with untrammeled snow. Are they really trails if no one takes them? Do the signs matter?

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Another sign that caught my attention was a antler rubbing on a young pine. The orange of the bruised tree called out amongst the common backdrop of evergreen and white. This was a sign, but to where? The trail had long since been covered with snow. Did the perpetrator stumble upon this opportunity for dendographic violence or was this tree on a path, its destiny decided?
Trails in the woods, paths for exploring, and accompanied by signs, do they set us free? Thousands of people will pass point X on this trail this year. But how many people will ply the snow just 10 feet off the trail? Probably none.
Norwegian language has a wonderful way of combining words rather matter-of-factly to create a new word. So, Friluftsliv was created from three words: Fri, free; luft, air; liv, life. The Free Air Life was an apt neologism, and spoke to the ideal and ambition of people to live large in nature. But the word hides in plain sight a limitation, the impossibility as a mortal human-primate to achieving the goals of Friluftsliv. The air is the domain of birds, and we are stuck to the ground with our feet. In three dimensions and without trails or signs birds alone may come the closest to living Friluftsliv, the rest of us will continue to dream and to rely on signs and trails.

Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.

The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 51: We Go Up, We Go Down, Very Nice!

Off the schneid! Leave it to Lister to give me another surprise. I came to the Lister area to teach. But I also got to see a couple of new birds. The Lister area is one of the top birding areas in Norway – lucky me. However it’s off season, Lister has it magic during migration season. Perhaps I’ll find a reason to return.


New birds: 2*

Melanitta fusca

Scolopax rusticola

*Sothøne, seen 20 October in Stavanger, finally got around to reviewing the picture

 

We Go Up, We Go Down, Very Nice!

“Jesus!” my mind screamed and I felt like I lept five feet into the air. What was that? That sound, it tore the peace of the misty forest apart. “There, ghosts!” my eyes gathered in all the intell. No, wooly sheep. “Oh,” and my focus returned to the soggy trail and my guide, stay with my guide because I am somewhere in Norway but exactly where?

 

I was running in the Lister area, Farsund was my base for the week; consult the map and then return to this blog. Good.

Norway has two envious paradigms. One, a person is able to walk-hike-run just about anywhere the heart desires, Allemannsrett (“Everyman’s Right” in english). Two, personal health is a national imperative, that is, eat well, exercise, and don’t become a burden.

Following my Tuesday lesson at Lister VgS – Eilert Sundt, there was the important time to socialize with the other teachers in the Personal Room (teachers’ lounge…in Norway they really know how to do the teachers’ lounge. Note, must be part of the social connections at school, it is just expected. Plus Norwegian teachers don’t have their own classrooms so the lounge really is an important home base).

IMG_4495 (1)I was introduced to Vidar (psydonemn) while having a cup of coffee, from their custom dinner service #pride. My host for the day told him that I liked to run on my travel. She told me that Vidar was a local running guide. At first glance you may not think that he was a gonzo athlete but you’d be wrong, very wrong. He reminded me of a favorite teacher from days of high school past.

“Can you be ready by 12:20?” he asked. “Yes,” was my immediate response, I didn’t want to even bother to consider having a conflict. Now I just had to get to my hotel ASAP and change.

I was late but he was forgiving. I’ve alway appreciated the kindness of strangers. With a hairy black dog in the back of the van we had a quick drive to the coast. I planned on running the length of the beach and back – my tactic to avoid getting lost – he was going to run with the dog to the top of a local promontory.

I have right to traverse the beach, throw shells back into the sea, watch for birds, and to dream. This community has some of the better beaches in Norway. They will create a trail, most with handicap accessibility, some 40 kilometers long up the coast. Room for anyone to wander, a destination for the wellness of body and soul, a place not for sale.

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Any thoughts I had about running in a steady manner ground to a halt as soon as I got the beach: the gentle lap of waves, the force of the wind, and the vision out into the abyss stopped me. Pictures, an attempt to do a Periscope (live-streaming app) and a quick video for my family turned the run into an intermittent stroll.

It was late December but the Gulf Stream gives this coast a gift of warmth, it was about 5 degrees centigrade. Overcast skies were a leaden dome but they couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. After enough pics I needed to get running or I’d would run out of daylight. The sunset was at 3:42.

And just when I got a good pace, my run was stopped again; birds on the water. Several dark and large duck-like birds, and a couple of petite and light grey feathered swimmers. The low light, my eyeballs, and little iPhone thwarted any definitive observations. Okay, keep running.

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Another good pace, an even rhythm on the firm sand, righteous running. The shoreline here has lovely stones and rocky outcroppings like most of Norway, but also sandy dunes with swaying grasses. The roots fight with the waves for the sand, they have for 10,000 years.

 

Here comes Vidar and the dog. He said the path was hard to follow because of all of the rain so he came back to guide me, stout fellow! Farewell shoreline safety, good. Vidar and the dog alternated being the leader, I followed.

IMG_4533We passed through a gate to control the sheep. A long dark bird was on water like before, but this one was close. Vidar said something was amiss, it didn’t try to flee. I got a good picture and then spotted a corpse of a recently deceased of the species. Maybe they were companions?

 

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Now we’re through the dunes and marshes. Just off the beach the wind disappeared and all sorts of new sounds invaded. During the occupation, the Germans fortified this part of the Norwegian coast with an intensity. We ran past numerous ruins of bunkers, pillboxes, and fortifications. I was reminded of my visit to Normandy. Sheep grazed a distant hill, they are used as natural vegetation management. The dog pulled, Vidar pulled back, victory to the biped.

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Across a road we scrambled up Skjolnesveten. This was adventure IMG_4541running: novel, a little risky, imperfect weather, camaraderie, and a goal. A bird exploded away to our left. I asked if it was a grouse, Vidar said it was a Rugde, he made a motion with his fingers about his nose to explain that it had a long thin bill. At 15:18 we reached the summit. The view was thoroughly modern: reclaimed natural areas, the timeless sea, and a massive Aloca smelting plant. And down we went.

The route down was the hard part, caution being the better part of valor. Returning via a different route we spooked a Roe deer, and got our feet good and wet. At the car they drove off, I opted to run back to the hotel. It was a chance to extend the run and to see more of the industrial harbor where two ships were docked.

A couple of weeks ago a Norwegian friend related a story about some hill climbers. They were friends of his who were on holiday. The country in question had certain hills that were off limits or required a local guide, a concept not well accepted by the travels. The pair had bagged the peak and were on their way down when they were confronted by an officer demanding their papers and interrogating them about their poached climb. The duo played dumb and just kept repeating in a pigeon english, “We go up, we go down, very nice!” with toothy grins for added effect. The officer finally gave up and they all went on their way.

What rights do you have to enjoy God’s earth by your own power? In Iowa you are limited. On a few rivers you have the right to float but the shoreline is private. Wisconsinites are free to course any body of water, even if it’s only seasonal. Ola and Kari Nordmann enjoy almost total access to rivers, the exceptions are exceptional. Because of Allemannsrett they can walk the fields and forests, camp most anywhere they please, and not stress about fencerows or property lines. I am jealous.

IMG_4582 (1)Thursday was my second date with Vidar. He had shown me on Wednesday an internet map of the destination. “This is a special place,” he pointed to a part of the route. I have heard that a lot in Norway. Seems in every locale there is a hill, rivulet, or forested grove that is special. But the labels have been always pronounced with sincerity, bordering on reverence.

The fog and mist that greeted the sunrise Thursday decided to make a day IMG_4595of it. We ran anyways. Like Tuesday, it was a melange of modernity. We parked next to a new auto tunnel that ran 3 kilometers under the mountain, we ran next to the century old canal that linked the sea to Framvaren and then up the ancient Fossekleiven to the saturated meadows and forests of Raufjellt.

“Over there a German airplane crashed,” pointed Vidar. He said some people died. “Germans,” he added as almost an afterthought for clarity. It was a detail that only added to the contemplativeness of the place.

We were near the point of beginning our descent. We went down through a surprisingly all deciduous forest by way of a switchback trail. I got a lesson from Vidar about how the oak and good wood here was taken by the Danes, and then English to built their fleets. The Dutch built Amsterdam on oak pilings.

The surf, forests, and mountains are for play and pleasure but also history lessons. These sweeps of nature, in all their steep glory, are here to impart health and happiness. They are open to you and me to explore, enjoy, and embrace. And if you are really lucky, you can get an education and a new friend.

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Looking ahead, looking up, and keeping my pencil sharp. -jlh

author’s note: landscape photos filtered “mono”, running photos filtered “chrome”

This is not funny

Drawn by a night out buoyed by either beer or coffee, about 50 Norwegians attended a polite debate last night about the 2016 Presidential election. Why would Ola and Kari Nordmann surrender their precious Wednesday evening to listen to three men go on about the current crop of candidates? You certainly wouldn’t get half that many people in my hometown to attend such an event – unless the beer was free. I bet the same is true for your hometown.

IMG_0262They were there because the 2016 Presidential election matters-to Norwegians. By extension it matters to the world. That is a point that is too easy to forgot in the States. Familiarity breeds contempt. As an Iowan that sentiment may be more true than for others considering how the Hawkeye State is saturated with political campaigning for over three years prior to the caucus

There are perennial topics for comics like: weather, relationships, drunk uncles, air travel, and politics. No matter the year or audience, you can get use the grist from at least four of these to support a stand-up routine. Politics are especially ripe for ridicule. I think for many it is the only act of participation they feel they have. Additionally, it’s a form of stress relief. Since politics have such life-and-death consequences on your lives, then making jokes about it may seem empowering. Someone ask a psychologist.

Wednesday was a typical damp and cool day. The sun set at 3:29, the fog and mist that was present throughout the day became a backdrop for the glow of the city. I entered the open air when I exited the underground train at National Theatre station. In the distance was a Ferris wheel, towering over Storting, the Norwegian Parliament building and seat of governmental power.

I assume the wheel was there for pleasure, all though it may as well have been an art project. What would it mean? What would be a clever monument to place outside of the American Capital as an art project? New postcard contest: most clever art project explained per building. You have one week, add your ideas as a comment.

IMG_3796My drawn downtown was to rendezvous with a favorite professor of mine from the University of Wisconsin. Unbelievably this was the first date we were able to make. I was really looking forward to hearing about her adventures and telling her about mine. As a bonus she suggested we attend a debate at the locally famous Litteraturhuset (The Literature House). The Fulbright Alumni Association of Norway was hosting a public debate on the 2016 American Presidential Election.

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The young and old faces in the crowd sat in attention as three experts with diverging political ideologies added their insights into the fitness of the hopefuls: Jan Arlid Snoen represented the most conservative of the three, Svein Melby literally and figuratively sat in the middle, and Professor Ole Moen voiced the left’s position. Each man spoke in turns and then the moderator, Helene Megaard, took questions from the assemblage and attempted to corral the speaker’s opinions for time.

I wish I had a transcript of the event so I could make a WordCloud. What would be the words and phrases that were the most reoccurring? Likely contenders would be: Tea Party, Trump, Photo ID, Caucus, and Gerrymandering.

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The night was conducted in the local language, naturally. But what was unnatural, or at least surprising was the bounty of directly used American phrases and descriptors. I guess some things don’t translate, or at least need to be translated. In the analysis of my notes, most of the Americanisms had negative connotations. That’s too bad, even the Norwegians can notice the sour taste in our politics.

The oldest living Constitution in the world comes from Philadelphia in the late 18th Century. Early in the 19th Century, Norway adopted her Constitution on 17 May, 1814; Synttende Mai. Longevity has made her’s the second oldest living Constitution. Sorry, not France, most everyone-including my Norwegian students-makes that mistake.

The Norwegians borrowed from the US Constitution, of course they did. And of course they added Rights, procedures and structures to suit their time, their culture and their needs. One of the differences that was mentioned last night, in passing, was striking. Professor Moen said that Americans shout about their Separation of Powers, whereas the Norwegians invented a government based on the Sharing of Powers. A subtle difference of words with significant ramifications.

Several topics garnered the most attention, two in particular. One, if a party has a majority in the Senate, then why can’t they get anything? The Supermajority concept even stupefies Americans, the Norwegians seemed incredulous that the US Senate can claim to be the most August body in all of democracy. Ola asks, “Since when is 59 to 41 not enough?”

The other central issue of discussion was the high standing of two inexperienced political outsiders. America’s individual campaigns instead of party campaigns are partial answers. The other answer is who votes. Or, more precisely, who isn’t voting. Voter turnout in the world’s oldest democracy is low. But for the preliminary contests the participation is abysmal. Only the most fervent and dogmatic voters turn out and, accordingly, reward the most fervent and dogmatic politicians.

Low level of voter participation in America makes me sad and embarrassed. I am sad because we need every voice and vote possible to make sure our government speaks for the people, so it has legitimacy. I am embarrassed that billions of people don’t have the vote but want it. Americans have the vote but we seem to squander it. Gaffs and silly candidates are easy to laugh at. Late night monologues will use them until the end of time. No one makes jokes about voter apathy, this is not funny.

 

Sunday Nature Call, uke 42: Love Thy Neighborhood

The Sunday Nature Call, uke 42: Love Thy Neighborhood

My brother says it’s better to be lucky than good, tru dat, especially if you like to see new birds. Week 42 gave me a surprising bounty after my scores of Week 41. I’ll take all the luck, and help, I can get. Maybe I was lucky, but I also got some help from a new friend in Rørvik; mange tusen takk R.S.

There always seems to be a bird that I just can’t quite identify. Both were on the coast at the islands of Vikna. The first was a large brown hawk – ohhh, hawks are just giving me a hard time this year.

The others were very interesting and conspicuous in behavior – I’m sure a seasoned birder would name them with ease. There were like ducks, grouped in a shallow salt-water bay. The birds were dark on top, white underneath but the behavior is what will give them away: they flew away with the slightest approach, running on the water and with a low outstretched neck and head – very unique. What were they?

New birds:

Storskarv (Phalacrocorax carbo)

X (X x)

Havørn (Haliaeetus albicilla)

Toppskarv (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

Fossekall (Cinclus cinclus)

Sangsvane (Cygnus cygnus)

3 men dragging brush, Dugnad

3 men dragging brush, Dugnad

We had been advised that there would be at least one community-wide cleanup/workday in our area and that you are obliged to help. Plus it would a good chance to meet people since at this event, the Norwegians expect to run into one another. At 10 AM Team Hanson was ready. Actually only the senior partners were ready, the junior partners didn’t make a quorum so I can’t say how they really were

We found our way to the registration area, fumbled through Norwegian, and got assigned an area. “Oh, that job seems easy,” I thought. Another addition to my list of completely misunderstood exchanges in Norway. In five years it will be really funny.

Author rests on his laurels, dugnadThe appointed hillside was covered with cut tress, saplings, and brush. The task was to drag it up off the hillside and then on to the community pile, I threw myself in the work with gusto. Man, I haven’t done any yard work since July, it felt good to do something familiar like this. In no time at all I was in my t-shirt despite the air temperature below freezing – sun and stillness: with hard work who needs clothes?

I met a neighbor, an elderly gentleman surprised an American was pulling sapling up some obscure hill in Oslo. He approved, plus his granddaughter was studying to be a math teacher, so I was okay in his book.

Meghan’s english attracted a friend. A hitherto unknown neighbor from the midwest, now over a generation in Norway, overheard Meghan talking to the boys. I think he was eager to re-familiarize himself with english.

Ola Nordmann hauls logs at dugnad

Ola Nordmann hauls logs at dugnad

Others were in my sector as well. A woman who wielded the loppers with abandon. A big guy with no hair he-maned the logs up the hill. I was leaving those for the tractor, maybe he needed an excuse to do something manly. A woman came around from the organizing committee with a basket of snacks. All so koselig.

We cleared the hill about 12:30 and called it good. “Rest!” called the sawyer. A lunch of whatever available and then some chill time in the apartment. I announced that I was going to take a 20 minute rest, i.e. if I sleep longer than wake me.

I woke myself several time with a choking snore only to drift away again. With a little courage and curiosity I peaked at the clock: “Holy Smokes, it’s after 4!” I’m not missing a grilled hotdog for all that work. And we all breezed out of the flat and to the gathering.

Dugnad "Tailgate"

Dugnad “Tailgate”

In a parallel universe there were Hawkeye tailgate parties taking place. The crisp of the air, smell of roasting meat, the feel of a cold aluminum can in my hand, and the idle but happy chit-chat with others reminded me of a fall football game. But instead of celebrating ritualized violence, we had gathered on a glorious autumn day, to smell the air, bask in the sun, and tidy the unmanicured elements of the natural world.

In Norway nature is celebrated, maybe venerated more than the scriptures. But there were more than two gathered, setting to work their hands. We made something better of our community and ourselves. For a great output of labor, no money traded hands. To be in league with your fellowman to make life better, inside our out-of-doors needs no defense. Is “dugnad,” one of those Norwegian words that just doesn’t translate?

Looking ahead, looking up, and keeping my pencil sharp. -jlh

Beaujolais, moonshine, and cod…and blogs

Beaujolais, moonshine, and cod…and blogs

A very tired and exasperated Jefferson Smith urged his fellow Senators that, “I’m doing the best I can” as he struggled to stay standing during his filibuster in, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But he was just one man trying to convey the sentiments of thousands and thousands in his western state. But how could one man organize so much and then produce the quality and clarity needed to make sense, to be understood?

Having shown that movie more times than I care to remember in my government classes, I know it well. I empathize with the junior Senator, those Boy Ranger legs can only stand so long. These Boy Ranger fingers are doing their best, but they are so tired. How can I convey all that I am seeing and doing? How do I balance writing and experience? I don’t know, honestly, but I’m doing my best.

I am behind in my posts. A post delayed is a post spoiled. There are some foods that just must be enjoyed fresh, like beaujolais, moonshine and cod. Old blog posts are like old cod, well, you know where this goes. I promise to include all my drafts waiting for publication but not before they are ready. Sadly, I will end up with some strange deviations in the calendar narrative. Please be kind.

A longer journey today meant an earlier start. By 10:45 AM I was out the door to drag my luggage up the hill to wait for good ole #32. As typical, I left in a rush. Thankfully Meghan had me squared away the night before but the last moments/hours before leaving always keep me on edge. I got a meaningful farewell from my better half, less than enthusiastic goodbyes from the twins.

Since there were people already at the stop I knew I didn’t miss the bus. Shortly I was done the hill, off the bus, up the hill to Lysaker Station to wait again. This time for a train. I was expecting a standard commuter train at about 11:20. But the video screen said the L12 train to Eidsvoll on track 4 was coming after 11:30. Damnit, what happened? I checked my app, “On time.” Huh? This is why I’m never relaxed until I am at the terminal gate.

The Flytog (airport only train) was approaching on track 3. If I got on, then I would get to the airport on time for the uncharacteristically tight schedule I had challenged myself with. So tempting…but the Flytog costs double and I would most likely have to eat half the bill. Stay strong, believe in yourself. I waited.

The monitor now said the next train, R10 to Lillehammer was coming on track 3 at 11:21. Hey, that’s my train! All that worry for naught! Maybe by April I will have the trains and times down pat. In the meantime I will work on my ulcer. 11:21 the R10 arrived, 11:23 we departed, I relaxed, a little.

11:57, Oslo Lufthavn, get off. 12:03 print boarding pass at self-serve kiosk. 12:04 baggage check at self-serve belt. 12:13 passed through security control. Land speed record and O.J. Simpson didn’t have to hurdle any luggage!

SAS courtesy mirrorsFirst time on SAS, same Boeing 300 that Norwegian Air flies, what’s the difference? Ah, SAS is more Norwegian than Norwegian Air. SAS has little mirrors in the overhead luggage bins so you can see you are holding up the aisle. Now you can get a sense of urgency without listening to Ola Nordmann passively-aggressively exhale.

OSL to TRD, clockwork. In fact, even better because we were early. Now I could stew longer for my wait to fly on the twin-prop DeHavilland of Widerøe; no good deed goes unpunished. Man, that’s a little plane.

WF 740Open seating on this flight, unescorted kids get boarded first, and in the best seats. Good idea. Without trying too hard I was the first adult onto the tarmac. Great, blind leading the, uhm, the…passive. No, not passive, too stereotypical. Ah, “curious.” I obviously “wasn’t from around here.” Maybe they just wanted to see what the fool would do. I sat at the window, starboard, towards the back.

Fudge, the low-hanging engines are blocking my view. Too late to change, here comes the herd. A full flight, 43 passengers by my count. Next time I’m sitting in the back row.

The taxi speed must be the same as the jets, but this low to ground and with a prop it feel faster. There is a nimble feeling to the plane. More like a sports cars than a bus.

14:16 we’re away (there was no gate). 14:19 runway, and with no pause we’re off. 14:21 the seatbelt sign is extinguished. To my surprise this flight is not direct. First we fly to Namsos, then on to Rørvik. Reminded me of the old ‘ism from Marine infantry school, “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.”

Sky islands, Nord TrondelagA young guy is seated to my left. Below is a deck of fog from the ocean contrasted with the brilliant blue skies inland, they clashed. In the fog bank little islands of hills poke through. Are they suggesting the greater array of islands in the archipelago just offshore? This area has a universe of islands, skerries, and rocks challenging the sea for permanence. We are headed for one of them, Inner Vikna. Please, go to a map and check out this area, let you mind wander, I won’t be offended, the blog will be here when you return. Go!

Right? I told you it would be worth it.

Below, the inland lakes and inlets of the sea mix and twist. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. In a prop plane on a short flight, we fly low, an intimate flight with the geography. I see the blooms of sediments and enriched water flowing into lakes, tiny deltas. In the calmed salt water there are ribbons of color, streaking through blue-green: nutrients, different water temps, mystery.

Descending to Namsos. In this plane you can clearly see you are tilted at the runway, you are pointed down and flying towards the earth. And you always thought you were gliding, coasting to terra firma; no. 14:44 we land.

On the tarmac I have a real conversation with a real Norwegian, so proud. Thank you Øyvind. Coincidently, I think he is either a student or teacher at the school I am visiting. When does the Crown Prince offer me a “you’re a real Norwegian” card?

Flight WF740 caught in shadow

Flight WF740 caught in shadow

14:59 we taxi. A momentary pause, for suspense, and then full throttle. It’s like we bounce into the air. More trees and bald granite hilltops; a kingdom for a red squirrel. There are buoy markers in the water, red and white, like a skiene. Probably the markers of fisherman traps. More of the same, then giant wind turbines.

We dip a wing and descend, 15:07. Øyvind points out a town, I’m trying to take a picture. It’s Rørvik, I got one shot, it will have to do. The runway is on a rare flat stretch outside of town. The landing zone starts at the water’s edge. Clear green water greets the approaching plane. Ducks skitter, gulls rest, unfazed.

Rørvik on approach

15:09 we land. Full stop at 15:10. The sun is out and I know enough that I will need to take as many pictures as I can. A sunny day with fall colors is not to be wasted anywhere, but especially here.