Going to Skogfjorden changed my perspective and the direction my life has taken. When I was in grade school, I wanted to become a writer or a doctor. I loved math and reading. I loved playing my violin, and I figured that I would probably follow one of those paths. I was also terribly anxious in social situations and really believed that I was going to have one or two friends in my life, but that was about it. I decided to go to Skogfjorden because I always thought it was sad that my grandmother’s parents followed her teacher’s advice and stopped speaking Norwegian to her in the home. She always kept her connection to Norwegian culture, but the language was gone, and that bothered me. When I heard about Skogfjorden, I thought this is a place where I can learn the language that was lost. Little did I know the real impact Skogfjorden would have on my life.
Growing up in the Minneapolis-area, one of my favorite hometown spots has always the small “fairy doors” were anonymously installed along the Lake Harriet path in the early or mid-1990s. Whether I passed the doors while training for high school soccer season, on a walk with our family dog or while talking to friends, there was always something enchanting about the small wooden doors. It was fun to think about them as a portal to a mysterious realm and the adventure they might lead to.
I was on staff at Skogfjorden for 3 years, when I worked as credit facilitator in the early 1990s. Tove and I had been hanging out together for a few years. Well, actually, we got married in 1989 and we were going to move to Norway (for a year!) in 1991. I had been working to learn a bit of Norwegian and spending a summer at Skogfjorden helped push me forward on that goal as well as letting me work with some great teachers in the credit program.
Today’s kveldsprogram centered around Roald Dahl, an English author of Norwegian descent. Villagers walked around in groups andinteracted with characters and situations from Roald Dahl’s books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. After the program, we had a conversation about what constituted being “Norwegian” and that, just like Roald Dahl, many of us at Skogfjorden are Norwegian even though we aren’t from Norway. We discussed how important Roald Dahl’s connections to Norway are and likened them to our own connections to Norway.
Our kveldsprogram tonight centered around the Battle of Stiklestad and the death of Saint Olaf Haraldsson. After being ousted from the throne and driven into exile by the Danish king Cnut the Great in 1029, Saint Olaf gathered strength in Sweden and waited to return to Norway. After Cnut’s Norwegian regent died, Olaf returned to Norway in 1030, but was killed by peasants at the Battle of Stiklestad soon after. In our program, villagers were split into groups, most of them were bonder (farmers), some were aristocrats, and others were Danes. The program roughly simulated the events leading up to and after the battle.