The photos included in this post are of place—from Trondheim, Norway on the coast to Funasdalen, Sweden and around the Funasdalen area, the route my Swedish ancestors probably took to leave for the U.S. The route I took Sunday to meet the ones that stayed. Cousin photos will be in the next post.
PLACES: This Nordic trip was planned for new adventures to dominate August and unrushed time with familiar Norwegian family and places to fill the September weeks. The August adventures included sailing down the coast on Hurtigruten ships and a bit of sight-seeing in Tromso, Trondheim and Bergen. Primarily and most excitingly however it was to be, and has been, all about Arctic Svalbard and Swedish Cousins!
I’ve already posted many pictures and some words about Svalbard and the schooner Linden, One of the greatest weeks of my entire life. Now I must tell you about the Swedish cousins. You see the Swedish part of my heritage has been largely unknown, represented only by my maternal grandmother who was said to come from the Norway/Sweden border, be half-Swedish, have a reindeer-herding grandfather, and who made lefse with cream instead of potatoes. I was curious but, since I didn’t ask the questions when my mom was alive, there seemed no way to know more—until Ancestry.com, DNA, and Family Trees invaded my life.
Gradually the need to know more about what went into the making of me has dominated my thoughts…where oh where, on all those world maps that hang all over my apartment and office are the places and journeys of my people. I’ve always had a desire to place myself spatially, to see where I am on a map—whether that means the apartment/house/hotel, street, neighborhood, city, county, highway-between-towns/rivers/state lines (which is why I find the tiny map and whiney voice of auto navigational systems so deeply disconcerting).
Now, thanks to all of the scary tech we’ve come to depend on, I must, and can, put me into the biggest and widest of worlds. To do that I just need to connect with my people, relatives and cousins however distant, cultures of origin, all those DNA strands… including my heretofore unknown Swedish cousins.
Why? It seems to me that we are safer and happier as part of the whole rather than practicing the xenophobia increasingly prevalent in the U.S. I want to be on the map…along with any Neanderthal pottery robbers and cave-dwelling painters and ice-house building entrepreneurs that contributed to my DNA.
ME AND PLACES (AND BOOKS): History was my subject of choice in college. Especially world history with specific regions and times coming to the fore and then fading into the background as I moved on to new countries and continents: first Western Europe, then Africa, eventually Latin America and Asia, and finally these last decades, the North of the World. Given my heritage, my genes, my bloodlines, all northern, it makes sense. The north that is Russia, Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland, Canada; the north of Vikings, Arctic explorers, the Sami people, glaciers, ice bergs, polar bears, and, not the least, northern Minnesota winters.
Did my ever increasing obsession with my Nordic heritage grow out of being raised by a Norwegian immigrant father and a first-generation Norwegian/Swedish mother in Scandinavian community in Koochiching County, Minnesota? Or…
Is it because of all of those history classes and books? Or…
Because of a life-long passion for adventure/explorer stories and a latter day infatuation with Viking history and with mysteries in the Nordic Noir vein? Or…
Because I believe life should be lived in a warm indoors and cold outdoors with great attention shown to the quality of the butter one eats?
THE ROAD TO THE COUSINS.
NEXT POST: Meeting the Cousins.