Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gifts and the greatest gift of all....

Last monday and tuesday (15th and 16th) I received a visitor from Norway; a buddy I got into contact with online. A fellow who goes by the name of Skaukraft, but in real life is called Odd Sverre. At first we had planned to take a meetingtrip together to the Rogen-district, a national park on both sides of the border a few 100 km's higher north, but that trip never materialized for me and was cut short for him, too.
So we planned another live-meet at my place. I am not the person who very easily steps up to meet new people, so I was a little nervous when monday morning started to draw close. Odd arrived earlier than anticipated, having spent the night only 35km away from here.
What can I say, after the initial first contact we settled over some coffee and chatted for a while. He then brought out his stuff, including "the goodybag" in which he had several things for me. I started packing my bag in the meantime. We had actually not planned for anything, but I figured he'd like to stay at the coaler cabin for the night. The mentioned goodybag turned out to be quite big. Apart from some items he was able to get me through previous arrangements, he had also added quite a handfull of other things I might like... And boy, did I!!
I knew he would be bringing a Norwegian army sleepingbag, suitable for winter too plus a set of Norwegian army mittens, being a wool liner with shell. He'd also bring a scalemodel, a Tigertank with crew, he had lying around for a while, but instead of 1 box, he turned up with 4! He would also bring along a fishingrod for my son, but that turned out to be a flyfishing rod with carryingcontainer and 2 reels.
Then came the bonuses.... First a Norwegian army shelterpiece. The romboid one, not the triangular and that turned out to be like new. Probably is. Next was a copy of the Swedish army manual "Överlevnad" by Lars Fält and as icing on the cake a Norwegian army wool sweater, which I already love to bits!
But the biggest gift of all was the time we were to spend together in the woods, the knowledge and stories we shared next to a fire and the dinner we had together with my family, where one dish was a mushroomstew, which he prepared. I dare say we now have a friend in Norway, which is an equally large gift.
Tack så hemskt mycket, Odd!!

After lunch we headed out into the woods, so I could show him a few of the places I regularly visit; the coalingsite and the viewpoint. We promissed my wife that we'd hunt for moose too. If we'd catch one I'd have to hold it, while Odd would strangle it...
We hiked up there under a clear blue sky and with much higher temperatures then we had anticipated. Because I also took the scenic route, which involved a substantial increase in height, we ended up losing more than a handful of sweat droplets. The not so topnotch state of physical fitness of both of us might have added to that, too. But I was able to show him our valley, bathing in sunlight and with a clear view. 
After having enjoyed the view, which I can not get enough of either, we headed toward the charcoalkilnsite. During the entire hike we saw numerous mushrooms; large numbers, many species and most of them of a substantial size! 

I just love this picture Odd took of me...

We did not undertake any exiting woodsman kind off things. We mostly sat in the shelter, talking, getting to know one another better, playing with flint and steel and Odd exploring the immediate area around the kilnsite. But we also made some discoveries. The focus did lie with mushrooms, since they were so abundant and we ended up studying one species, a fungusspecies, growing on trees with a red rim; the Formitopsis pinicola or Klibbticka in Swedish.
We started studying them, taking them apart, looking and smelling at what we found and discovering new things. Things like the fact that the fungi are layered and can be peeled apart, that they have a distinct structure and that you can actually see through the (spore?)channels, when held against the light.

Then it was about time to prepare some food and what better way that to do that the old way; cast iron, coals, and typical foods like falukorv and pyttipanna. As a good host I took care of that, while the coffee was simmering.

A sunset in the forest.
Later that night the sky turned bloodred, before becoming inky blue dotted with stars.

After dinner we went off to explore the area off track. We trudged through the forest, seeing more and more mushrooms, but next to no sign of wildlife, except for a single deertrack. The forest was also quite quiet. Not many birds to be heard, except from an occassional passing raven, green woodpecker or magpies. We walked from sunset till almost dark, checking out mushrooms for edibility, but most were big and worminfested, apart from 2 socalled fårticka. Odd explained that they were good food. Mushrooms with a firm flesh, resembling chicken and a good, nutty taste. We picked those and I brought out my foraging bag, which appearantly was approved by Odd, judging by his "The force is strong with this one"-remark...

As we returned to camp we used the gravelroad going around it and just before we made it back, we hit the jackpot! Right next to the road, about 100 meters from the shelter, there was a patch full of these mushrooms; big and uninfested! We picked and filled the foragingbag and I guess it would at least have been between 3 and 4kg.

Fårticka (Albatrellus ovinus)
source; wikipedia
Happy with this lucky find we returned to camp and spent the rest of the evening talking, sharing stories and staring into the fire. Turns out that we share quite a few things, like our belief in socalled otherworldly presences. That did make some interesting conversation. We turned in for the night at around 21:30.

After a reasonably good night's sleep, Odd claiming that he had slept like a baby and better then in months, we made breakfast and broke camp, taking our time doing so. Slowly we headed back to my place, where we arrived shortly before lunch, unfortunately without moose. Those damn animals kept slipping between our fingers.... We spent the rest of the day in a quiet and relaxed manor. I had to admit that the previous week's potatoharvest had left me feeling more tired than I had previously thought.

After a quiet afternoon, Odd was appointed to volunteer to prepare the mushrooms according to a simple recipe he knew; mushrooms cut in cubes, fried with plenty of real butter and then simmered in cream. My wife had planned on a wildstew, being deer and mushrooms with Brussels sprouts.

Dinner was very good and my oldest daughter actually ate and liked mushrooms for the first time in her life! My youngest one had 4 portions of Odd's mushrooms....
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other's company and we turned in early again, since he had a long trip ahead of him the next day and I had to be out in the fields again by 07:00. Unfortunately we lack the accommodations to have guests staying over and Odd had to spend the night on a fieldcot/stretcher with wool blankets. That felt like a lack of hospitality on my behalf, but it was the best we could do.

Early morning the next day we said goodbye and off we went, both in different directions.
A Dutch Marine-poncho and 2 large nodules of Danish flint followed Odd home...

Despite the often heard advice it can actually be a good thing to go out into the woods at night with strangers, carrying axes and knives...

Thank you very much Odd.
I truly enjoyed your visit and I really hope we can add more things like this one in the future!


  1. It was great to get to know you and your family and it was a great honour to be your guest.
    I most definatly had a good nights sleep. I always sleep well under the stars, and with a 13 months old baby at home, and a 400km drive behind me, it was great to wake up feeling completely relaxed and on top of that being served eggs and bacon for breakfast.
    I really felt comfortable in you company, and you absolutely got a friend in Norway. I hope to see yopu and your family again some time soon.
    Thanks again for letting me be your guest.

  2. Ron and Odd, from this post I can see you guys had a great time together. :) I wish I could have joined you! Since I don't plan on leaving this part of the world anytime soon and I expect that you guys will be getting together again sometime, I'm sure I will join you on a future adventure. :)


  3. We sure did WW.
    Ron is the kind of person that you feel you have known your whole life once you get to know him, and I am quite sure I got a friend for life.
    Looking forward to get to know you to some time also WW.

  4. Ow shoosh...
    You're making me blush here!! ;)

    Makes me feel good reading this, yet it also makes me wonder why I have such difficulties finding friends nearby??

    And you'd be most welcome, WW!