I will get back to the pig farm in my next post. Still some more stories there. Norway is a beautiful country shaped by valleys, rivers and mountains. Due to its latitude it experiences the midnight sun in the Summer months. When I was there 37 years ago, the tradition was to go sit by the rivers on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It is amazing to be out at midnight and it seems like day time. One’s energy level is different.
One peculiarity to Norway at the time was that alcohol was extremely expensive and liquor stores would close the days before a holiday. As a result, Norwegians might have to drive far to secure alcohol. On a summer night, my boss, Per, asked me to go to a neighbor’s house around midnight. Daylight still there. He wanted me to experience “hjemmebrennt,” or home burnt literally translated. In English…”moonshine.” We went through the woods to a small cabin. They demonstrated how flammable the alcohol was. Apparently over 90 percent alcohol. They mixed a small amount in tea for me. I think I had two cups. It went to my head like rocket fuel. I remember walking to my house by the river at 3 AM and marveling that the sky had never become dark and was in fact lightening again. I had to feed the pigs at 6 AM and the effects of the moonshine were still evident. I got to the barn early and laid down on a bail of hay.
Speaking of alcohol, in day to day life, Norwegians of that era were tremendously reserved, rarely speaking about themselves. The opposite of Americans. They would talk about politics forever, but not about themselves or their feelings. At the time they read more newspapers per capita than any country in the world. Anyway….when drinking, they became quite gregarious. Most of the Norwegians spoke English extremely well, but I love languages so forced myself to learn the language. I had a phrasebook/grammar book and a dictionary and studied every spare moment. I became fluent by the time I left. I have always felt that learning the language gives one new insights to a people. One thing I heard them say a lot was, “Vi har det bra,” or “We have it good.” Yes they do. Impressive country that has magnificent landscape and a true social conscience.
I have much more to say about Norway. Next post I will share some more pig stories and then on to hiking across a large plateau called, Hardanger Vidda.