I’ve never met a hedgehog. I’ve always wanted to. Despite their prickles, from what I hear the little creatures are charming critters. They’re called pinnsvin in Norwegian and they roam the lush garden in the evening at the home of my friends’ Megan and Sverre Smalø in Trondheim, Norway. So when I visited Megan and Sverre in August, my expectations were high. Any trip to Norway, my favorite place on the planet, gets me excited. A chance to spend almost a week in Trondheim with good friends put me over the moon! I’d visited the old Viking city once before, but then only for a morning.
A little background: I’ve been visiting Norway since forever. Blame it on a college boyfriend who sang seductive Norwegian folk songs, and later, PR clients representing the Norway Sardine Industry who introduced me to aquavit. Those small, lightly smoked fish are tasty and good for you! The beverage... well, you’ll have to taste it for yourself. I returned to Norway once at Christmastime and was smitten for life. In a culture adapted to seasons and geography—a requirement when winter lasts six months in some places and only six percent of the land can be farmed—a snow-covered landscape, candles on every window sill, festive family gatherings, and the peace of Christmas are magical.
So here I was in Trondheim on the west coast of Norway with Megan and Sverre at the end of summer looking out at a glorious blue-green fjord, and exploring a Viking ting (meeting) site, 11th-century stone churches and prehistoric stone etchings, a musical instruments museum, and a waffle house on the beach. All around were prosperous farms with huge barns and golden fields of rye and barley stretching down to the sea. Add Nidaros Cathedral, the coronation site for Norway’s kings and a destination for pilgrims, and finding Seattle’s companion Leif Erikson statue along the harbor for a good measure of history. Of course, tasting Sverre’s home-made farikal and warm, heart-shaped waffles topped with slivers of gjeitost, the creamy brown goat/cow’s milk cheese was bliss!
But why pinnsvin? It’s Megan’s clever name for her antiques business: Pinnsvin Crossing Brukt og Antik. She and Sverre bought an old (1753) farm just outside Trondheim and to furnish it, went to many country auctions to find vintage housewares and furniture. One thing led to another and Megan started collecting small treasures, setting up a shop in the farm’s mustard yellow stabbur, or storage house. She has an eye for the unusual, and Sverre can mend or polish almost anything. I confess my suitcase wasn’t large enough to bring home all the treasures I saw, but I’m going back soon!
Even though we sat very quietly in the garden one evening, alas, no hedgehogs scampered across the lawn. There’s another reason to return to the world’s best place.
-Judith D, Senior Communications Manager