All-Day Dance Event in Placerville

On Saturday March 13th, the El Dorado Scandinavian Dancers are planning an all-day event at IOOF Hall, 467 Main St. Placerville CA. Attendees can register in advance or at the door. (See directions, costs and registration info below) It will be an afternoon (1:00-5:00 p.m.) of Scandinavian dance exhibitions and music provided by performers in colorful and authentic costumes from Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. This event is designed for beginners, so now is the time to urge anyone you know who may have an interest in Scandinavian dance to come try their hand (or rather, their feet) at it. Itís also a good time for you to spend a relaxed afternoon or evening with potential new friends in the Sierra foothills.

Dances will be performed by the El Dorado Scandinavian Dancers, the Sacramento Scandimanians, and the Fairfield Barneleikarring. The music will be performed by Nattergal, Bergtagen, and area fiddlers. For those interested, there will be audience participation dances, featuring easy dances taught by several teachers from the Sierra foothills, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Swedish audience participation dances will be taught by Britt O'Grady.
After dinner break (there are several excellent restaurants nearby), there will be an evening party from 7:00-11:00 p.m. with live music, dance and music performances, with dances being taught and reviewed from the afternoon. Swedish audience participation dances will be taught by Britt O'Grady. Other dances will be taught by a variety of teachers.

The event is sponsored by the El Dorado Scandinavian Dancers (EDSD) Cost: $6 for the afternoon session, $6 for the evening party. Special all day discount package, $10, if registration and payment are received prior to March 1st. If you are interested in attending this event, please request an application form from Nick Jensen (916) 933-0671 e-mail ( or Marida Martin (530) 672-2863 e-mail ( Registration also available at the door.
Directions to IOOF Hall. Take US HW 50 to Placerville. Turn right off HW 50 onto Center Street as you approach an overhead foot bridge. (The turn is just before the footbridge). Immediately turn left into the Center Street garage( a city lot). The lot can also be reached by turning onto Center from Main Street.

Scandia Camp Mendocino

There is still room for musicians and for a few men at Scandia Camp Mendocino, June 11-18, 1999.  The Swedish part of the program will focus on the music and dance from Dalarna, with dancers Britt-Marie Westholm & Bengt Mård, and the entire (4 person) Olle Wallman quartet.  Britt-Marie and Bengt are known for their beautiful dancing, clear teaching style and delightful sense of humor.

The Norwegian program will be multi-faceted.  Mary Barthelemy and her husband Olav Nyhus will share some of the richness of the Roeros district music and dance.  We will continue working on Hallingspringar with Nobi Kurotori and Roo Lester accompanied by Karin Code.  There will also be many musicians to teach and to play for dance.  Regular fiddle, hardingfele, and nyckelharpa will all be well represented!!

For information, contact: Nancy Linscott at email: or write to her at 53 Presidio Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941,  phone: (415) 383-1014 or Roo Lester at email: (630) 920-0159 (Central time) or

Santa Cruz Cultural Evenings

For several years now, the Valhalla Scandinavians and the Scandinavian Cultural Center in Santa Cruz has been sponsoring Scandinavian Cultural Evenings on the 1st Fridays of each month.  These relaxed evenings include a lecture, and topics cover a wide range of subjects from all over scandinavia.  Upcoming programs include:

March 5 - "Sami Life" speaker from the Sami office in Oakland.    7:30 p..m. at Viking Hall, 240 Plymouth at Button in Santa Cruz; Valhalla
Scandinavians with the Scandinavian Cultural Center.

April 16 - 6 p.m. Pea Soup and pancakes with Scandinavian speakers-potpourri         tentative:  Norwegian Coastal Cruise and a Swedish guest who has been negotiating for Sweden and the EUN.

April 17 & 18 - Rosemaling Workshop at Viking Hall 9 to 4 p.m.   Registration information, call Maxine Miller at 831-464-3310.  Limited number.

May 7 - 7:30  "Katrina Remembers" with Jean Kaldahl of San Francisco speaking     at Viking Hall, 240 Plymouth St at Button.  Valhalla Scandinavians and Scandinavian Cultural Center of Santa Cruz.

Information for all events may be obtained by calling Barbara Olson at 831-438-4307, or email

Web Address, Meeting Time and Place Changes

There are several recent changes in web addresses and meeting places.

The American Nyckelharpa Associationís web page is now:

The Skandia Folkdance Society (Seattle folks) web page is now:

Folklore Village Farm in Dodgeville WI should soon have a web page at  In the meantime, try:

The monthly Nordic Footnotes dance (South Bay) still meets on 3rd Saturdays, but has moved to the 1st United Methodist Church, Palo Alto at 625 Hamilton (between Webster and Bryon).

The monthly Sacramento Scandinavians Dance Workshop, taught by Dick Livingston and Sallie Odom, moved (starting in Jan.) from the 1st Sunday to the third Sunday of each month.  The class still meets at the YLI at 27th and N Street in Sacramento, 1:30 - 5:30pm.

There may soon be a change in meeting place for the 2nd Saturday Mill Valley dance, so watch for announcements, flyers, or call if youíre not sure.  The April dance will be in Santa Rosa as previously announced.  March will (most probably) be in Scout Hall in Mill Valley.

Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap

Plans have been finalized for the Scandinavian week at Buffalo Gap Camp, Capon Bridge, West Virginia.  Dates are from Saturday supper, July 3 to Saturday breakfast, July 10, 1999.  Flyers are expected sometime in the first 2 weeks of March.  The camp lies close to Winchester, VA, and is reasonably close to Dulles Airport, in Washington, DC.

The Norwegian teachers this year are Anne Røine and Håkon Dregelid from Voss. Their performance of both the springar and the rudl (rull) from Voss at the 1998 Landskappleik was fantastic. This will be  their US debut. Their fiddler of choice is Arne Anderdal, who was on Scandinavian Week staff in 1995 with a contingent from Hallingdal. He has since moved to Voss and studied there with all the local luminaries.

Teaching Swedish dance will be Leif and Margareta Virtanen. They are new to Scandinavian Week but not to America, having taught at both Nya Norrlandia and at Julian. They will teach dances from Föllinge (Jämtland), Västmanland, Dalarna, and Hälsingland. The Virtanens live in Norberg, where they lead a regular dance group. They have a Big Silver from the medal testing and twice won the Hälsingehambo contest. Leif is taking over Inger Karlholm's position as announcer at the medal testing.

As fiddler they are bringing Mats Hellstrand, making his US debut. Mats has been playing fiddle for about 30 years, including with his late father, although the folk music traditions of his home parish of Västerfärnebo, in Västmanland, had nearly died out. Mats taught fiddle back when he lived in Stockholm, and now has been a teacher at seminars presented by the Folkmusic Federation of Västmanland. He plays for dancing mainly in Västmanland and Dalarna.

Also from Sweden comes our nyckelharpa and singing teacher, Lotta Franzen. She's also a superb player and teacher, both of which she does professionally. In addition to nyckelharpa, Lotta plays regular fiddle and 2-row accordion. Her taste in song repertoire tends towards the humorous, and that is mainly what she will be sharing with us.

Fiddle classes are offered at 3 levels in Swedish fiddle style and repertoire, nyckelharpa, and hardingfele. There's also a gammaldans band open to all instrumentalists (singers are welcome, too), coaching for small ensembles, and singing classes. The usual American staff will also be teaching:  Roo Lester and Larry Harding teachinga Scandinavian Dance Basics Class, plus the following musicians:  Bruce Sagan, Music Director and Level 1Nyckelharpa; Becky Weis, Level 1 Swedish Fiddle; Loretta Kelley, Level 1 Hardingfele; Andrea Hoag, Gammaldans band and small ensemble coaching.

If you've been to camp in the last couple of years, or have been receiving the flyers the last couple of years and haven't moved, you're on the mailing list. If not and you'd like to be included, get your postal address to me now, at <>. Cost will probably $530 for the week for adults. Reduced rates for children, who must attend with a responsible adult. A limited number of work scholarships are available.

Contact:  Judy Barlas MFAC, PO Box 2354, Silver Spring MD, 20915-2354. (301) 649-6921 email:

List of Tunes Taught at the 1999 Scandia Festival, Petaluma, CA

Per Gudmundsson's Tunes  - all from Rättvik
unless otherwise noted

Orbergs Kirstis Polska
     e. Blank Anders
Jässpods Polska e. Grinds Hans
ďFröken AgnesĒ March fr. Boda
Polska e. Verkmäster Hans
Dal Jerks Jässpods Polska
Polska e. Paul Bäckström
Sparf Fars Visa
Polska e. Pers Erik

Karin Olssonís Tunes  all for Klarälvsdal Polska
(except for the waltz!)

Polska e. Carl Johann Björklund     (Dupp Dupp)
Polska e. Carl Johann Björklund (Horn tune)
Polska e. Carl Ivar Linné,
     Norra Råda, Klarälvsdal
Polska e. Henrik Kling, Fryksdal
Annas Vals av Per-Thomas Eriksson

Spring Mini-Workshop Plan Update

NCSís spring mini-workshop for fiddlers is planned for the third weekend of either March or April.  Keep your eyes and ears open for more news.  Questions or suggestions??  Talk to Jeanne Sawyer at (408) 969-5602, or email her at jsawyer @

King Karl XI, the Eriksgata, and  "What happened in Dalarna?"
(Along with the use of traditional instruments for dancing.)

by Wes Ludemann

Sweden was originally an elective kingdom where (presumably) the most capable man became regent.  The election of a new king was held in Uppland, at Mora Meadow,  in which the thirteen Mora stones lay.  A large earth-fast stone in the middle was surrounded by twelve smaller stones.  After the voting, the newly chosen king was proclaimed.  Thereupon the king took his oath, sitting on the middle stone, and gave his guarantee that he would rule according to the law of Magnus Eriksson.

Then came the Eriksgata, without which the king could not be crowned.   The origin of the term is obscure, and historians still dispute over its origin.  What happened is that the king, accompanied by his retinue and a large group of hangers-on, spent several months riding through each of the provinces in turn.  The reason for these visits was that each province was ruled by its own laws, and the people wanted assurance that the king recognized their laws.  They also wanted to see the person who was going to rule over them.

Sweden had become a hereditary kingdom by the time of Karl XI, so there was no need to go to Mora Meadow to be elected, or indeed, any need to ride the Eriksgata before his coronation.  Thus on the 18th of December 1672, the age of 17, he sat on Queen Kristina's silver throne and swore his oath of office.
 The following summer, Karl XI rode his Eriksgata through the country, escorted by a large and impressive following of councillors, foreign envoys, court functionaries, bodyguards, and, naturally, his mother the queen widow, who was always at his side.  Nearly two hundred people were officially invited. The journey was to be a combined hunting and educational trip, for the king was to study historical sites and relics of the past in Uppland, Gästrikland, Dalarna, Närke, Västergötland, Göteborg, Halland, Skåne, Blekinge, Kalmar and Öland.

The ancient historian Geijer vividly described what happened in Dalarna, where the roads had been decked out with spruce branches and where Dala men stood with torches on both sides the entire way to Siljan.  Pyramids of juniper bushes adorned the entrance to the festival room in Falun.   The buildings the king would visit were ornamented all around with tall pine poles, and the walls were decorated with bear traps.

The king participated with gusto in the dancing and feasting.  He danced with the Dala girls, drank freely, and during the course of the festivities, ordered salvos of cannon and muskets to be loosed, which were echoed by the happy cries of the people, "whereupon the Royal Majestyís kettle drummers and trumpeters, who stood on the balcony, let themselves be lustily heard."  Later in the evening, after midnight  "his majesty covered himself not only with the highest grace dancing but likewise diverted himself by means of kettle drummers among the musicians, which was to his fancy."

While dancing the kingís pockets were filled with gold coins, and the pockets had holes in the lining so that money poured out when he spun around. "whereupon the Dala folk got an exceptionally good concept of his majesty."  Good PR, also.  The show naturally attracted masses of spectators, and Geijer relates that at the windows where folk stood and peered in, the crowding became so great that "whereupon it happened that a person fell down into a barrel of cold water."

The trip continued for three months, though it was not all dancing and kettle drumming for the young monarch.  Everywhere he saw how poorly the army and the defenses were equipped.  The Danish ambassador wrote that on the trip to Göteborg alone the king received written complaints from six hundred persons.  Most were complaining that they had not gotten any salary in a long time, sometimes for many years.   The record belonged to a high civil servant who had been without pay for eleven years.

 The Eriksgata continues to this day, but now is done by motor, and presumably doesn't take as long.  Perhaps no dancing with the Dala maids, either.

Year in Valdres - Fall and Winter
by Sarah Kirton

This is the 2nd (and final) installment of Sarahís experiences during a year spent studying traditional hardingfele music in Valdres, Norway.  The first installment appeared in the spring-summer '98 issue, and told about the 2nd half of her stay - the spring and summer months.

As I reported in a previous article, I recently spent a year in Valdres, arriving in early September 1996 and leaving for home at the end of October 1997.  I was also able to return last summer ('98), spending June through most of September there.

I arrived in Göteborg, Sweden on Saturday, Sept. 14, 1996 and spent a couple of days shopping for household necessities such as sheets, kitchen knives, and other small items which I felt sure would be cheaper to buy in Sweden than in Norway.  I picked up a car on Monday, and on Tuesday I took off for my Norwegian adventure.   Iíd originally thought to take a couple of days to drive up to where I was to live - outside of Røn, just north and west of Fagernes.   There are several interesting tourist sites on the way I thought would be worth seeing.  But much to my dismay, all the tourist sites were closed for the season.  As I was turned back at one site after another, I began to realize that it wouldnít be all that hard to get to Valdres that day.  So I drove - stopping only for gas and to eat a lunch Iíd packed.  I got to Fagernes about 6:30 pm, while it was still light.   It was then another 15 or 20 minute drive north to the apartment Iíd rented.
 My apartment was in the basement of a modern house out in the country.  The owners, who live in San Francisco, had given me a key.  I was very glad to get there while it was still light and could be reasonably sure I was walking into the house Iíd rented instead of trying to unlock some stranger's door.  I settled in, called a couple of friends, and made a list of what I should try to pick up in town.  The apartment was furnished - it even had blankets, pillows and enough kitchen equipment to survive, so I mostly needed foodstuffs.

I spent Wednesday exploring Fagernes with a different eye than in previous years as a tourist.  Which grocery store was most reasonable (the one in my own little village of Røn), where was the drugstore, where was the best place to get kitchen stuff, and etc.  I also stopped by the Valdres Folkemuseum, where Iíd been promised study space and access to materials.  Ingar Ranheim made me welcome and introduced me to several folks, and then urged me to attend the 2nd International Munnharpe Seminar and Festival, which was to begin on that Friday.  Iíd bought a munnharpe (jews harp) from Hallgrim Berg when he was in San Francisco that spring, so I thought -  "why not?"   I signed up for a class in beginning munnharpe, and loved every minute of it.   The concert on Saturday night was a real eye-opener.  The Norwegian munnharpe tradition stresses the melody rather than simply the rhythm.  It was almost unbelievable to me to hear the power, beauty and excitement that a good player with a good instrument can create.  I made up my mind to work hard to learn to play this little instrument that one can carry in oneís pocket (unlike a fiddle - or worse yet, a nyckelharpa).

The museum rents out space to the Valdres Folkemusikklag (folkmusic association), which maintains tape archives of music recordings of local musicians.  Their collection of hardingfele, langeleik and vocal music is extensive.  They also have a limited number of torader (2-rowed diatonic button accordion) and regular fiddle (a marginally traditional folk instrument in that area) recordings.  I first concentrated on listening to the better known fiddlers, but soon became fascinated with some of the lesser known folks.  I didnít start out with any particular study plan in mind, trusting that as I listened more, I would form better questions for my study.  I eventually became fascinated with the variations used by some of the less imitated fiddlers.

Valdres is probably the most beautiful place I've ever lived, although itís rivaled by Colorado.  The drive from Fagernes up through Vestre Slidre and Vang is an ever changing panorama of breathtaking beauty.  (gaack - I sound like a travelogue!) Someone told me that the valley of Valdres has been called the "pearl" of Norway because of its gentle, but still dramatic scenery.  I'd certainly agree.  I felt I was living in paradise.  Even the weather cooperated during the year I lived there.  People kept telling me I'd get used to the scenery and cease to notice it.  Luckily, that didn't happen.  I kept needing to remind myself to pay attention to my driving rather than the scenery.

I'd been a bit curious about how Iíd react to the winter darkness.  I grew up with cold, and was actually looking forward to it, but sunrise around 9:30 or 10, and sunset at 3 or 3:30 was new.  But I found that the sun comes up at such an oblique angle that it was light much longer.  And what light! With low sun, a white snowy world, and often a bit of frozen moisture (somewhat like fog, but different) in the air, the world usually had a pink and blue and pale-gray fairy-tale air to it.  But it was cold by Valdres standards.  Everyone there complained.  But with no wind, this Kansas girl had nothing to complain about.  I will admit that I wasnít willing to stay out more than an hour or so in ?20°F weather.  Although my coat was quite warm enough, (I didn't even need the heavy down parka I'd brought), my boots really weren't made for such cold.  Neither is my nose.  There were about 5 weeks that it didn't get above O°F.  I vivdly remember the morning I walked out and thought, "Gee, itís a lot warmer today." I got in the car, started the motor, and looked at the carís thermometer.  It said ?9°F.  It had been more like ?14° or lower each morning.  At that point I figured I'd become acclimated.  Spring came a little early, and summer ('97) was warm and sunny, occasionally hot, but not too hot, with just enough rain to keep everything beautiful.

 I can't call summer '98 paradise, though.  I don't even need all ten fingers to count the days we saw more than a few hours of sunshine.  And there was more than enough rain.   Most days didnít get above 65° at best.  We were often lucky to see 60°.  Things began to get warmer just before I came home.  They had odd weather last winter, too.  In February '98 I was talking (from CA) long distance with a friend (in Nor.) and said laughingly that maybe El Niño was affecting Norway, too.  He said that yes, heíd heard that it actually was!

Log Storehouse from Valdres- with maiden's bower. The balcony was probably covered originally.

As I reported before, I was quite lonely during the first few months of my stay.  I spent the first month on cloud nine -marvelling that I was there and that I could actually carry on conversations without too much trouble.  That was not the case, however, in a group, and most of my interaction was in groups.  It was a constant frustration, and was very isolating.  When I bumped down from cloud nine, I decided that although I couldnít solve the problem immediately, I could take some steps to both become better acquainted with more people and, at the same time, improve my language skills.  I considered taking one of the language courses for immigrants, but ended up rejecting this idea as taking too much time for (probably) too little return.  I had a good grasp of the grammar and a fairly large vocabulary.  I needed most to get out, talk, adjust to the dialect and become used to thinking "fast" in Norwegian.  The courses took a large part of the day (some were 3 days/week, most 5), and would severely limit the amount of time I could spend at the museum - which began to make noises about closing fairly early in the afternoon in winter.  ( I could certainly still use some drill in pronunciation, though, especially vowels!) So I joined the local choir, which provided a weekly evening outing and a chance to get to know more folks.  I'd planned to travel on the weekends, but realized that I'd miss the area dances, which were an easy and natural place to meet people.  Almost every weekend there was at least one dance to attend.  I also went several times to talk with the local grade school's 5th and 6th graders.  They knew enough English to understand most of what I said, although they were very shy about using it.  I also found a group of people to eat lunch with.  These activities, plus regular fiddle lessons with two teachers and attendance at spelemannslag rehearsals, kept me pretty busy, although still isolated by language.  Things improved steadil, especially after New Year's, but it wasn't until March that group communication ceased to be a constant strain.  I've never quite gotten rid of my "phone phobia," though.  Calling someone you don't know and having no idea what kind of dialect they'll speak, or whether they'll understand that they need to slow down and speak more clearly for foreigners can be something of an experience (I've meet a few people who talk louder and a lot faster in an effort to help me understand!).  Talking on the phone was difficult even with people I knew fairly well, because I couldnít see their lips.  Answering it could be even more of a comical experience, since I often received wrong numbers.  The poor person on the other end would be totally unprepared for a foreigner, and would occasionally rattle off several sentences before I could manage to stop them.  And then there were those who said, "Oh, but youíre not Norwegian!" (In Norwegian, of course.)

I still speak rather odd Norwegian.  A mixture of bokmål and Valdres dialect with an American accent.  And a tonefall (very important to Norwegians) that's also a mixture of the three.  Valdres people hear only my American tonefall, but Norwegians from other regions sometimes burst out laughing, the combination of American and dialect is so funny-sounding to them.  Probably like a Norwegian who learned English in Texas would sound to a non-Texan.  But they do (usually) understand me.  It's also probably funny because I definitely speak a foreigner's Norwegian, with all the attendant mistakes.

A funny thing happened to me a couple of weeks after I arrived.  At a Valdresspringar course at one of the ski/outdoor recreation resorts in Vestre Slidre, I met a (very healthy looking) woman from Oslo who told me that her name was "Sickly." I blinked and swallowed and repeated "Sickly," trying to imitate her inflection as carefully as possible.  She nodded happily - "Ja, akkurat - Sickly!" I spent the rest of the day puzzling over this odd name and trying to avoid having to say it.  Toward evening I realized that her name was probably Sigrid.  The next day I was relieved when someone called her to the phone ? and called her "Sigri." The Ďdís on the ends of such names as Sigrid and Ingrid are not pronounced, something I'd forgotten at first, not having met anyone named that.  Once I remembered, I also remembered that people from the west coast often pronounce 'g's in a way that sounds like a 'k' to us Americans, and 'r's end up sounding like 'l's.  Abracadabra - Sigrid becomes Sickly! I hadnít been there long enough to identify her speech as west coast, but I met her again that spring, and then it was a bit more obvious to me, although I think sheíd lost a lot of her accent/dialect living in Oslo.

TV watching was an interesting experience.  There are repeater antennas of some sort on the highest hills, so I could get two stations with rabbit ears. There was a wide variety of Norwegian programs (of course), quite a few Swedish, British and American programs and movies, and some from Germany.  There was also an Australian soap that I got hooked on.  If I could get home early enough, there was a Swedish soap about a tour line and the family who owned it, too.  The foreign language shows were subtitled - half in bokmål and half in nynorsk.  I could watch "Cheers," "The X-Files," "Friends," and any number of American films.  I could even watch the current "60 Minutes" if I were willing to stay up till 2 am in mid-week.  And then there was the German series starring the police dog "Rex."  The ads were a refreshing change from American TV ads - they were much more interesting and often very clever.  (It was also nice to see them over and over again - helping my colloquial language skills as I figured out everything that was said.)  Even better, they only run between shows, (every half hour if it's a movie) instead of interrupting every 7 or 10 minutes.  But I sometimes missed those bathroom/go-stir-the-pot-on-the-stove breaks.

The local newspaper was another unexpected point of interest.  It comes out 4 times a week, and is written in nynorsk, but with quite a few articles in the local dialect(s).  There is no national or international news in it, which leaves not much to report but sports, traffic accidents, local politics, local business news, cultural events and historical articles.  High school sports and personal interest stories, with an occasional historical article made up the bulk of the reporting.  Many of the articles would never be considered newsworthy here - even in the smallest town, but it was interesting reading for me.

As far as cultural events go, there are a surprising number of really good shows of all types that come through Valdres.  Iím not sure how they can afford some of them with such a small population base (only ~23,000 among the 6 kommunes).  I strongly suspect they have state funding for these cultural programs.  I do know that the spel- og dansarlags and the Valdres Folkemusikklag get state funding.  There is also a lot of homegrown entertainment, and much of it is very good.  I was quite impressed.  Several of the larger sanglags (choirs) produce what they called "reviews" each year.  Most were homewritten musicals about one thing or the other.  There was a quite elaborate one based on Beatles songs.  It took pot shots at potholes and other local situations and was evidently quite funny.  Unfortunately, I hadnít figured out yet what it meant when I saw the notice for a "review" in the paper, so I didnít see it.

Many people are enthusiastic writers of amusing skits for any kind of event or celebration, and others try their hand at poetry.  Poetry in the newspaper is quite common, and can deal with anything from an amusing thought or occurrence to anger over a political situation.  (Last summer there were a couple of  "punny" poems about Bill and Monica!)  Obituary poetry is also not unusual.  Locally written poetry was often read at public gatherings, and there were a few people who were good at making up a little rhyme on the spot.  While this skill was admired, and not that many people did it, I didn't get the impression that anyone thought the ability was all that unusual a gift.

The paper often runs profiles of local people.  I was interviewed, and somehow took up two full pages, although I didn't say all that much.  The interview was half in my pidgin Norwegian and half in English, so I was amused to see myself quoted as if I'd been speaking flawless Valdresmål.

Articles on local history and pre-history also were quite common.  I came home with far too many newspaper clippings.

One of the minor frustrations for me at first was the problem of banking.  To get a bank account, one needs a "person number." This is quite reasonable, since itís the equivalent of our social security number.  I applied for one, and it came several weeks later.  But I was told that I must have the account for three months before I could be issued checks or a teller card.  So I visited the bank frequently.  Paying bills without a check was actually quite easy.  When one receives a bill, it includes a form called a bankgiro.  This form has the debtee's bank account number on it.  You simply fill in your account number and the amount owed and take or send it to your bank.  This also works for private debts.  The person you owe gives you their account number, you get a blank giro form from your bank, money in an account, issuing credit and teller cards and fulfilling other bank functions.  To use a postgiro I took cash to the post office since I didn't have an account there, and they sent the money to the appropriate Swedish postgiro account.  Not having checks or a teller card was not a big deal as long as I stayed around home and remembered to plan ahead, but travelling involved careful planning.

Wedding Spoons from Valdres

I was lucky enough to live along the old "King's Road" between Oslo and Bergen.  The route itself is centuries old, and was officially designated as a "King's Road" (national highway) in 1793.  Highway E16 (E65 till recently) roughly follows this old road through much of upper Valdres.  As one drives along one can see many of the low stone walls that marked the way.  ( One can also see a lot of old stone walls that have nothing to do with this old road!) Valdres, like most of Norway, has a surplus of rocks, and people make good use of them rather than hauling them unnecessarily long distances.  Solid stone fences (both in the fields and around house yards) and stone house foundations and chimneys are quite common, as are stone retaining walls to help with yard landscaping, agricultural erosion, and along the highways (even modern ones) to keep the roadbed in place.  Many sections of the King's road no longer in use as a roadbed are now used as hiking trails.  Other hiking trails follow other famous routes - often these are old pilgrims' routes.  There are not many pilgrims' routes in Valdres, but they are quite common in Gudbrandsdal, the valley to the east.   They most often lead to Trondheim (to honor St. Olav), and begin not only in Norway and Sweden, but as far away as Russia.  In the summer, there are often organized hikes along these old trails, especially on St. Olav's Day.

In the fall, people were busy catching ørret (auret in the local dialect) and preserving it, sometimes by smoking it, but more often by making rakfisk.  Ørret is a type of freshwater trout that closely resembles salmon.  It's difficult for me to tell the difference, but ørret doesn't taste quite so heavy to me.  They can grow quite large.  One day around midsummer I got home early, and a large white van pulled up behind me.  A man got out and began to babble in a thick dialect I hadn't run into before.  It took me several sentences to understand more than a few words in each sentence.  Once over that initial hump, he was fairly easy to understand.  He was trying to sell me something, but since he was saying something that sounded like either fersk fersk (peach peach) or possibly frisk fersk (fresh peach), and it was too early for peaches (June), I was a bit confused.  So I explained that my Norwegian was not the greatest, and asked him to show me.  He took me to the back of the van and opened the door, revealing I don't know how many cubic feet of freshly caught (and cleaned) fish (fisk) packed in ice.  He started telling me what kind of fish each bin held, but since I don't know the names of fish species in Norwegian, he might as well have spoken Greek.  I finally shrugged and pointed to a likely looking suspect.  It was close to two feet long and fairly plump.  I think I paid about 150 kroner for it.  (about $18, really quite reasonable for Norway.)  It turned out to be an ørret.  After I hacked off its head and tail, it fit perfectly in my oven.  I feasted for several days.  The man told me he supplied area restaurants and resorts, and came by every other Tuesday about 1pm.  I'd caught him that day because he was late and I was early.   I tried to catch him several times after that, but without luck.

Now ?  back to rakfisk.  "What is rakfisk?" you may well ask.  It's ørret that's been pickled raw in a brine of salt, sugar, vinegar, and probably other stuff for - I think it's 8 weeks.  Fagernes has a rakfisk festival to kick off the rakfisk eating season.  I was told it's a Valdres specialty and didn't realize that other areas of Norway also make rakfisk until several weeks had passed and the newspaper ran an article about how Valdres rakfisk had been judged the best in the country that year in some contest in Oslo.  Each family has their own closely guarded recipe.  People will talk about adding more sugar or less salt than last year, but even in casual conversation with me, who was hardly likely to steal their family recipe, folks were careful not to get even remotely specific.  I did gather that one must keep the ratios of the ingredients within certain bounds to prevent food poisoning.  One also can't let the fish or equipment touch the ground to avoid botulism spore contamination.  The rakfisk I tasted ranged from tasting like freshly caught, nicely cooked fish to extremely salty.  Most was somewhere in between.  Folks usually put a bit on a pie-shaped triangle of lefse and rolled it up from broad end to tip.  I liked all that I had, although some of it was a bit salty.  Most people seemed surprised that I liked it.  People try to have it ready to eat by late fall or early winter, and it lasts through early January.  It's considered a Jul time dish.  Surprisingly, none of it really tasted or smelled all that fishy, but someone sent me some commercially made, vacuum packed rakfisk as a Christmas gift this winter which was more than a bit on the fishy side.

Another fall activity is brewing various types and strengths of beer and wine.  The strength of the beer ranged from quite weak to VERY strong.  All of it was good.  These recipes are sometimes guarded and sometimes not.  People were not nearly as possessive about their beer (or wine) recipes as their rakfisk recipes.

Wine was made from local berries.  Blackberries, blueberries, lingonberries, gooseberries, cloudberries, raspberries, strawberries, berries we don't have names for in English, black currants, red currants, and berries I've forgotten to include in this list.  Crowberries.  There are serious discussions about what a wine made of, say, gooseberries and raspberries will taste like and exactly what ratios of berries to use.  Should they add any lingon?  some kind of fruit juice??  Apple, perhaps???  ( Certainly not grape juice!)  People find spots where a particular type of berry grows well, and then guard that information with their life.  The berries are picked from open land, that is, it may or may not be private property, but because of the Norwegian allemanns right which allows certain public uses of (almost) all land not in current use, anyone can pick these berries.  Nobody, but nobody, can force a Valdres person to tell about their favorite picking spot.  I've even heard of a few people who park their cars a good distance from their favorite spot in order to fool friends or neighbors who may happen along the road.  Picking berries in Valdres is a very serious business.

Christmas is a BIG event in Norway.  From what I saw, it's a family time for most people - both immediate and extended family.  I was quite lucky to be asked to Christmas eve dinner at a neighbor's, where I was served what they said was a traditional dinner - with one exception.  They'd tried to fix a representative sample of all possible meat dishes that I might normally encounter for Christmas eve dinner.  So there was ham, pinnekjøtt, roast pork, fårikål, and a couple of dishes I can't remember! (How I wish I'd kept up my resolution to keep a dairy!)  The exception on the menu was cabbage slaw with pineapple bits.  For vegetables, there were the always present boiled potatoes, and mashed rutabaga flavored with nutmeg.  It's actually quite good.  Pinnekjøtt, which translates to something like "stick of meat", is actually sheep ribs that have been salted and dried.  Some of them tasted smoked to me, too, although my recipe books don't mention smoking as a preparation method.  I suppose one could think of it as the Norwegian version of our barbecued ribs without the barbecue sauce.  Fårikål is a fairly common special dish often used for company.  It's lamb (or sometimes mutton) and cabbage cooked together into a kind of stew.  I enjoyed both dishes, again to the surprise of my hosts.  I don't remember being served lutefisk, another dish I don't mind (if it's cooked properly).  But I was thankful I wasn't in an area which considers sheep's heads to be a specialty dish.  I was told that the eyes are a special delicacy, and that guests are sometimes offered them as a way of making them especially welcome.

The days after Christmas are also very important.  There is a lot of visiting, at first mostly with family and close friends, and then gradually including the rest of the world.  On New Year's eve, my neighbors set out candles encased in protective ice shells in a long line across Slidrefjord.  They'd spent weeks making these ice structures.  One takes a pail (~15 inch radius, and knee high), fills it with water, and sets it out in the cold.  The water freezes around the sides and bottom of the pail first.  When these icy walls are deemed thick enough, the unfrozen water is poured out and the ice shell is removed from the pail.  These were set out on the ice with a candle inside to be lit at midnight.  I wish I'd seen it - a line of light stretching across the fjord, which must be 1/3 mile or more wide there, but instead I went across the ås (ridge) to Øystre Slidre and an all-night dance party.  There were a good number of folks from Oslo, Telemark, and a few from Vestland there that night.  Along with dance, music, and homemade beer and wine, we had a huge bonfire at midnight.  Unfortunately, I saw very little of that, either.  I'd managed to get my car stuck in the snow, and just before the bonfire a bunch of men got together to push it out.  Olav Jørgen helped, and since he was worried about New Year's fireworks or sparks falling on his hay-filled barn and setting it ablaze, I drove him home to check on it.  It was a good thing we went, his tenants were setting off bottle rockets.  That evening also included a huge potluck spread with a fancy sit-down dinner and after dinner entertainment late in the evening.  They don't call it a potluck, they just say to bring something to eat.  This offering is called a "sending," and to bring something is "å ta med," so I "tok med ei sending."  I got home around 5 in the morning, long after the candles on Slidrefjord were burned out.

Did I mention that there are a couple of places where people drive across the fjord all winter?  All fall I'd noticed some places where it looked as if one could drive from the road right down to and into the water.  But there was no beach, no place for a boat to be pulled ashore, no nothing.  I found out what they were for when the fjord was safely frozen - cars!!

One thing I found very confusing at Christmas time was the way of telling the date.  I first ran into it sometime in late November.  Our sanglag was trying to decide on a time to give a concert, and there began to be talk of whether femte or sjette Juledag (the 5th or 6th day of Christmas) would be a better choice.  The "5th day of Christmas???!?!" I thought.   We eventually settled (I think) on niende dagen Jul  (9th day of Christmas), ie. Jan. 2nd.  It wasn't only the choir that calculated days this way, it was EVERYBODY.  I worked out that if Christmas day is the 1st day of Christmas, then Jan.1st must be the 8th day, and the 12th day was Jan 5th.  Between that and a lot of counting on my fingers, I managed to keep my dates straight.  It seemed like second nature to them - the easiest and most obvious thing in the world.  The Jul season runs all 12 days, although people are back at work by Jan.  2nd, and many work between Christmas and New Years, too.

After Christmas, everyone settled into the usual routine and waited for spring.  I've already talked about spring and summer a couple of issues ago, so I won't go into it here.  I had a wonderful time in Norway, it was very hard to leave, and even harder to realize that it will be difficult to find a way to spend more than a few weeks at a time there in the future.  It was both a great adventure and a challenge, and at the same time, it was boring, everyday life.  I'd happily do it over again, many times.

Special Event Announcements

Rørospols - Swing Camp, Vauldalen Fjellhotell, Brekken, Norway, July 6 - 11, 1999

Begins with dinner and welome party a week of classes in fiddle, dance (Rørospols and Swing) excursions in the Røros area evening dances and swing lessons.
Cost: 3500 Norwegian Kroner  (<$500 at current exchange rates) send registration soon, they need to make hotell reservations for us by Mar. 30th
Need deposit of 500 Norsk Kroner with registration.
Questions:  contact Margot Sollie: Hitterdalen, 7460 Røros, Norway or Mary Barthelemy: home phone 001 47 724-14152,
fax c/o Rørosmuseet 011 47 724-10571 or email REGISTRATION:  please send form (found on NCS web page calendar section) and deposti of NOK 500 to: Røros Pols/Swing 1999, Vauldalen Fjellhotell, 7470 Brekkebygd, Norway.

Folkedans Stevne at Camp Norge, Alta, CA, April 9 - 11, 1999

Dances of Setesdal and Agder: Mikkel Thompson, teaching, Loretta Kelley, hardingfele
Music Workshops: Bill Boyd, fiddle, Bill Likens, accordion, torader, and ensemble playing
for information contact: Zena Corcoran at (415) 355-3752 or see the NCS web page calendar section

Special Sponsors for May 15th Nordic Footnotes Dance

Jeanne and Henry Sawyer need your help to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary (really!) in May.  Theyíll host the third Saturday dance on May 15, and hope youíll join them for an evening of dancing, music making, and eating.  The festivities will start with Hors díOeuvre at 5:30, followed by a potluck dinner and, of course, a dance.  Itíll all take place at the regular 3rd Saturday location: the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave.  Watch for fliers or call Jeanne and Henry for details (408-929-5602), but put it on your calendar now.

Hardanger Fiddle Association of America Annual Meeting and Workshops
June 16-18, 1999  Folklore Village, near Dodgeville, WI

Hardingfele Player Vidar Lande, Setesdal,  teaching tunes of Telemark, Setesdal, & other areas
Dancer Inge Midtveit, Western Telemark, teaching Telespringar & other Norwegian folk dances.

Meals provided  to all one- and two-day registrants, Norwegian Banquet Saturday night

Program includes: Hardingfele, Flat Fiddle Classes, Hardingfele Construction and Dance Workshops, HFAA Annual Meeting (Saturday only), Saturday Banquet and Concert followed by Dance Party

more info can be found on the HFAA Web Sit: http:// or by sending a SASE to HFAA Registration 913 Main Street, Cold Spring, MN 56320 Phone: +1-320-685-3437, email:

American Scandinavian Music Sites:

The Northern California Spelmanslag:

The American Nyckelharpa Association:

Bruce Saganís Scandinavian Web Site:

The Hardangar Fiddle Association of America:

The Skandia Folkdance Society (Seattle)

About the Calendar

 A (somewhat) more detailed and up-to-date calendar can be found on the NCS Webpage at

Web and Newsletter calendar submissions should be sent to Jim Little at 321 McKendry, Menlo Park, CA 94025, email:, phone: (650) 323-2256 or Sarah Kirton at 330 Sierra Vista Ave. #1, Mt. View, CA, 94043, email:, phone: (650) 968-3126.
 Suggestions for what to include in a calendar submission are on our web page.  The web page calendar is updated when new material is received.

Section of a Primstav - an old type of calendar in use in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe from the Middle Ages onward.  This section begins on Oct. 14th.