July 31 The directions for getting to the hutte showed only a few stores, two houses and a barn. We were shocked to see hundreds of houses scattered over the barren hills. We’d all imagined lots of trees and no other houses nearby. However, very few had anyone staying in them while we were there. The air was cold, and most Norwegians had returned to work after their holidays. They usually fly a pennant when in residence – almost every hutte has a flag pole.
We walked to the middle of the settlement and happened (?) to be at the train station when some switching was done. After lunch we explored a mountain stream. I found I could walk twice as far to the accompaniment of water music. Exquisitely lovely! The wind was fierce when we climbed a tiny mountain, leaving a roaring in the ears. We noticed clouds were lower that second day and hung their feet on the edge of the highest mountains in sight.
August 1 On driving to Oslo, we noticed that the valleys became broader and the streams wider. Several towns were ski resorts – easily spotted by big hotels, small paths up the mountains for ski lifts and wide swaths for downhill skiing. Lots of hay was being hung on long racks to dry.
[We visited friends we met at our home church on Long Island when Eivind was working at the university there. The family lived in the US several times. They were very close to John’s mother, who could speak Norwegian with them.] Olag, Eivind, and their family gave us a royal welcome with signs made by the children and American knick-knacks displayed. For dinner we had fiskeballer, boiled potatoes, grated carrots on lettuce topped by almonds and blueberry torte. Eivind and his children had picked the berries; John and Eivind sorted and cleaned them.
August 2 We walked to the local church where the young pastor preached an excellent sermon, and his wife played beautifully on the piano. Olag whispered some translation during the sermon.
We recognized some of the hymn tunes and did our best to follow the language. The parts of the liturgy were easy to follow, and the text familiar because Eivind had looked it up to have with our devotions the night before. That was a special part of the evening – to sing a hymn, read the Bible and pray together.
At that church you don’t have to speak with the pastor ahead of time, so we went for communion. Their way of serving was very different. You picked up a tiny silver chalice on the way to the altar. The bread was handed to us, and then the wine poured into our cups. Used cups were put on a tray when leaving. At the end the pastor stood to say the words of distribution, knelt and took communion himself. He was first the priest, then the layman.
For lunch Olag served porridge (a white sauce with butter, sugar and cinnamon), cold cuts, boiled potatoes, cooked cabbage, sour cream, fresh dill and ice cream.
Eivind had prepared breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, bread, rolls and cheeses. Mostly gjetost and Norge cheeses are served in the morning. Home-made preserves also went round. [I wonder about my spelling of these things. Surely, having just eaten the stuff, I tried to spell things correctly.]
Eivind invited John’s first cousin Hal and Bjorg over, and we went for a bird watch at the nearby lake to fill in time before they arrived.
When we went to the lake, Olag stayed home to bake a cake. We returned to help bake waffles, set tables and prepare sandwiches. When Hal and Bjorg arrived, Olag served banana slices on rolls, cheese and apple on rolls, plain rolls, cheeses, jam, waffles and cherry cake – a big cake split and filled with cherries and whipped cream.
Chersti (I can’t remember how to spell that one, but that is what it sounded like) was very shy. Espen was not shy but very tired at the end of the day.
We had devotions with the children later – Eivind read a Lutheran devotional and we sang two songs in English and Norwegian with Eivind playing the piano and Olag the guitar.
I recognized several birds at the lake – chaffinch, magpie, pied wag tail, house martin, mallard duck, coot, Canadian geese, tree sparrow, house sparrow and a two-toned brown duck.