Ekeberg Parken

February 1, 2015.  Since my recent face-smashing fall had made me a bit gun shy about the ice, we decided that walking (using crampons) as a form of exercise might be a bit safer than skiing.  So on Sunday, we rode the Trikk up to Ekeberg Parken, which hovers on a distant hill outside the city proper.  The more winding route we elected to ride took us through some grittier neighborhoods new to us, but marked by the passage of time with layers of graffiti and city grime. Continue reading Ekeberg Parken

Snow, Ice, and Darkness

January 30, 2015.  It’s here.  The Mørketid.  The Dark Time.  I’ve been dreading it; when the day is a little less than six hours long, and two of those hours are devoted to murky dawn and dusk.  Christmas staved off much of the dreariness with its cheery festivities and candlelight.  But now that the holiday is long gone and the snows are heavy, the darkness is beginning to get to me. Continue reading Snow, Ice, and Darkness

Jante’s Law

Jantelovenn (Jante’s Law) is a term coined by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 book A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks.  It captures the Scandinavian ideal of conformity, emphasizing that individual success is unworthy and inappropriate.  To stand out or call attention to yourself in any way is to jeopardize the collective “we.”

Promoting the collective “we” above “I” ensures the survival of the group, the stability of society, and fairness and equality for everyone.  The concept may have developed to reinforce the necessity for interdependency among members of small farming communities, combatting the “me first” attitude that can develop in times of extreme poverty. Continue reading Jante’s Law

New City, New Year

According to tradition, newly graduated midwives still dance around Stork Fountain (1894).

January 2, 2014.  Traveling to a new city seemed like a good way to usher in the new year.  And we’d been told that it’s pretty quiet in Oslo, except for the crowds that gather in the parks to light sparklers.  So we quickly booked a trip to Copenhagen, about an hour away by air.  The trip from the airport into the city center revealed a landscape that looked — and felt — a lot like Chicago:  few trees, pancake-flat terrain, lots of industry, and a cold wind that robbed us of our breath and threatened to knock us off our feet.  Just like home. Continue reading New City, New Year

A Walk at Sognsvann

December 27, 2014.  A couple of days after Christmas, much was still closed, so we decided to go for a walk.  This time we picked Sognsvann, which we’d been told had a lovely lake that you could stroll around, as well as paths for cross-country skiing.  We thought we’d join the Norwegians, who love to picnic despite frigid temperatures, so I packed a lunch of leftover pickled herring and grilled veggies, along with a thermos of hot coffee. Continue reading A Walk at Sognsvann

Sledding on Christmas Day

Dozens of sledders caught the train to the top.

On Christmas Day, the sun shone brightly for the first time in what seemed like weeks, and all was right with the world.  We donned our winterwear and headed out on the T-bane (the Metro train line) to Frognerseteren to admire the winter scenery from the mountain overlooking Olso.  A surprising number of Norwegians had the same idea, and when we pulled up to the Midstuen stop, an enormous throng of people toting sleds (called “sledges” here) climbed aboard.   Continue reading Sledding on Christmas Day

Christmas Eve

We prepared to spend a quiet Christmas all alone in Oslo.  By this, I mean that we’d been warned of two things: 1) absolutely everything is closed — even the grocery stores — from about noon on Christmas Eve through Boxing Day (December 26th).   And 2) Norwegians are quite private; Christmas Eve and Day are reserved for immediate family, so don’t expect an invitation to join anyone for the holiday.  No problem, we did our grocery shopping Christmas Eve morning and scheduled Facetime with friends and family for the next two days. Continue reading Christmas Eve

Learning to Live in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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