The KRISTIANSAND Cousins

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On my first visit to Norway in 1985, I met Gurine, Arne and Knut’s sister. She was the widow of Professor (I hope that’s correct?) Tallak Froysnes, living in a pleasant bookish home in Kristiansand. I liked her so much, feeling an almost instant camaraderie in fact. I think she may have felt something of the same because we agreed that if we only lived a little closer to each other than Kristiansand and Albuquerque we would be very good friends.

Now I still see Gurine when I go to Kristiansand but her memory has failed quite dramatically over these years so our conversations are very limited. The lovely reality however is that I’ve come to know Tone, her daughter, and Tone’s husband Simon, quite well when I stayed with them last year in their pretty home on the edge of Kristiansand.   Teresa and I were most fortunate to be their guests again this year in their ‘new’ home in an historically important, lovingly restored area of downtown Kristiansand. Many photos follow!

Tone and Simon are more great examples of why I’m so happy to be part of this Norwegian Neset family. Tone’s new home is particularly wonderful—half museum with her and Simon’s families’ precious objects from the past, and half smart contemporary Scandinavian with another eclectic and quite beautiful art collection, at which my Norwegian cousins seem to excel.

Teresa was lucky enough to meet her fourth cousins, Oda and Erland; Oda lives in her own apartment nearby but Erland was at home as he’s still involved with his studies.

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The bonus of this short visit before making our way up to Neset Camping was an afternoon at Tone and Simon’s cabin at the shore. A sunny-day boat ride, great food and wine, pleasant conversation…life is pretty much perfect sometimes. The only thing better would have been if Gurine could have been with us, but Tone is quite a special person I think, reflecting the best of both her mom and her independent and unique self.

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I must add a small note just to say I do understand that life is not without its harsh moments in Norway and for Norwegians but, when it is all said and done, it’s probably as close as the world is going to come to ‘the good life’ as defined by a sensible, humane, generally liberal culture that values education, the environment and engagement with the world.

So would I still have been me if Torgus had decided to stay in Norway and not taken young Svein across the sea to a place called Minnesota? Because, if so, I would wish to have been born a Norwegian in Norway. But then I wouldn’t have my ‘perfect’ American family (all liberal environmentalists [or at least mostly] as well) so I guess I’ll have to be content with Grandfather Torgus’ decision!

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