Norwegian Americans grow up proud of their Norwegian connection. The land of the Vikings, fjords, wool sweaters and the midnight sun beckons from faraway. You are born with a sort of special visitor’s pass to a distant Northern Kingdom with only 5 million people. The only trouble is, it is far far away, so many of us never actually set foot upon Norwegian soil and discover our roots. This past summer, however, I became one of the lucky ones. I traveled to Norway and found my way to my hometown village and the farmlands of Lende in the province of Rogaland, just a few miles from the Norwegian sea.
Before setting out, I was afraid I might come upon a stretch of convenience stores or an industrialized zone where once had stood grazing cattle and fields of rye. Rather, to my complete delight, I discovered vast fields and gorgeous hilly meadows checkered by chunky stone walls and dotted with grazing Norwegian red cattle. After tentatively driving our rented Skoda up the driveway to the farm, we were warmly embraced by our distant relatives – Atle, Kristin, Morten, Køre and Helmund Lende. Helmund’s wife, Solveig brought out her fancy tea set and served us crisp buttery Norwegian waffles fresh from the oven with local plum jam.
We shared stories of distant relatives, long lost emigrants and the lure of the sea. We learned how the farm land of the Lende family had been divided into parcels or Bruks over the years and that actual Viking ruins had been discovered on the land they still cultivate to this day. They are under strict orders from the Norwegian Historic Commission to never disturb those stones which are relics of our wild and warrior past. Though these Viking ancestors of ours were not only seafaring marauders and adventurers, but also farmers, butter lovers and churners– more on that later!
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