Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Skol: Come explore a Norwegian wood with farm, flowers, family in rural Scandinavia

TIME IN THE COUNTRY YIELDS CONNECTION WITH FAR-AWAY COUSINS IN SETTING OF RURAL BEAUTY 

Spending time with our Norwegian relatives was a highlight of our latest holiday.  Here, from left, Fredrik, Cookie,
Keller, Ann-Christin, Gunnar and Nora.  The scene is the Nystul family farm near Mysen. The doggie is Zac.
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
Gunnar Nystul, our Norwegian cousin, took this photo of
his acreage in rural Norway, 43 southeast miles from Oslo.

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

NEAR THE town of Mysen, in south-eastern Norway, we spent a beautiful day in the company of my cousin Gunnar Nystul, with his family and pets, tools and projects.
What a delight!
On a 16-day Scandinavian cruise and Atlantic crossing, we were thrilled that Gunnar and his wife, Ann-Christin, took time off from their government jobs to entertain us.
Gunnar serves dessert at the farm, prepared by Ann-Christin,
who made a beautiful meal to serve the American cousins. 
There's nothing like a "home visit," the enticing bonus of having friends or family in a destination to enhance a visit. It makes a place real.
Gunnar picked us up at the pier in Oslo in his Mercedes station wagon.
We drove southeast, visiting in English, which is compulsory in Scandinavia, learning about Norwegian farming, freeways, food, economics, medical plans and education (it's free at university level, with high taxes of course.)
Gunnar pointed out high-tech undersea tunnels which connect the many islands of Scandinavia. We took several enroute to the farm.
OSLO HAS a famed Viking past, when my people (on my maternal granddad's side) roamed the high seas, traveling as far as Canada and the Mediterranean to trade, explore and conquer.
Ann-Christin has a modern kitchen in an older home.  Her talent
for decorating  and artistic eye are obvious at every turn.
On several other visits, we'd enjoyed Oslo's stunning Viking Museum and fantastic Vigeland Sculpture Park.
This time, we vowed to make our time a family affair.  Leaving the city, we passed Akershus Castle, where our ship docked, the Parliament Building, National Theatre and Royal Castle. Our anticipation was high as a Viking mast.
NORWAY IS famous for its vast expanse of woods, moors and lakes.
My cousin, Gunnar, has a microcosm of his country on his farm.  It is resplendant with all that makes Norway famous -- glasswork, crafts, farm tools, sculpture, flowers, carvings and more. We couldn't wait, having seen a photo Gunnar sent to entice us. Approaching their place was like watching a movie with ourselves in it.

Several of the buildings on the Nystul
Farm date back 100 to 150 years.

 After about 50 miles of the city slowly giving way to woods and villages -- we reached Mysen, administrative center of the municipality of Eidsberg in the county of Østfold. The town is built on the grounds of an old farm named Mysen, thus its name. Our family name, my mother's maiden name of Nystul, means "new farm." We've traced Gunnar's and my connection back to twin brothers Nils and Olav, separated at age seven when their mother died.
Trees lead to hiking paths, and  a
pleasant afternoon spent with family,
flowers, dogs and delicious food.
Norway indeed has its midnight sun, here as we left Oslo, bidding a
bittersweet farewell to the Nystul family of Mysen, Norway, our cousins.
Gunnar and his wife, Ann-Christin, and their children, Fredrik and Nora, spend as much time outdoors as possible.  No wonder. Summer is fleeting, from  late June to early August. That's when the weather is warmest and days are long and bright. Temperatures reach the high 70s, and occasionally 80F. (25°C - 30°C.) It's perfect weather, with little humidity.
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Winters are another matter -- snow boarding and skiing are popular, with every winter sport one could wish. Dog sledding, anyone? The farm is, no doubt, lovely with a dusting of snow, too.
Danish writer Karen Blixen is buried in this simple grave in Rungsted, where her museum is.

NEXT UP:  Danish writer Karen Blixen
is known for her first book, "Seven Gothic Tales," and for "Out of Africa," which was made into a major film.  She lived many years in Africa, returning after her lover was killed in a plane crash. Back in Denmark, Blixen began writing, emerging to public scrutiny in the early 1930s. "Gothic Tales" was published in the U.S. in 1934 under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen. We spent time at Rungstedlulnd, the Karen Blixen Museum, a lovely country house in Rungsted on the Øresund coast north of Copenhagen, Denmark. Among its enticements is a fantastic bird preserve.  Blixen lived there much of her life and donated it, with the proviso that bird life and wildnerness be preserved. Remember to explore, learn and live. More Wednesday at: www.whereiscookie.com

1 comment:

  1. Ann Arbor Armchair TravelerOctober 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM

    I am half Norwegian and in my fifties. This beautifully illustrated and excitingly written article took me there. I've just booked a trip to my father's homeland near Bergen.
    Tusen takk for the nudge.

    ReplyDelete