Updated: Feb 10
Every time my father had to upgrade his Engineering degree in Oslo, my mother, toddler sister Ingeborg and I, would stay på Konnerud, close to our relatives. We lived high up the mountain, in a wooden cabin, with the roof often covered in meters of snow; winters på Konnerud could be brutal. ❄️ Hard to imagine for the avid winter lover I've become over the years, but as a child I hated the snow and the cold.
When I think of Konnerud, I remember the wood stove burning, I remember my red anorak, the thick and itchy woolen sweaters, hats, mittens and socks, the leather ski boots, the narrow wooden skis, the special smell of the wood and the fresh air, the closest neighbours quite a distance away, and Vesslemor, their daughter my age.
Vesslemor was the very opposite of me. Vesslemor was always happy and smiling. Like any Norwegian child, the cold didn't seem to affect her and she loved to ski. Ski competitions, the so called Onsdagsrenn, were organised every Wednesday for the Drammen-Konnerud children, and literally every child participated. And every child enjoyed it. Not me, though. The icy cold, the snow clumps on my woolen mittens and socks, my numb fingers and toes, and - last but not least - my parents and relatives, cheering and clapping me towards the finish line.
In an ultimate - but counterproductive - attempt to stimulate me, my parents used Vesslemor as an example and a motivation; Vesslemor is also cold, but she just keeps on skiing, darling. Vesslemor also has ice cubes on her mitts, sweetie, but she doesn't mind.
Many an Onsdagsrenn was won by Vesslemor. My own highlight was the consolation prize; a silver plated cake server. My mother still has it.
My dad, who loved showing off his ski jump abilities during family gatherings at Konnerud, once used the roof of our house - covered in meters of snow - as a ski slope. As he was smoothly sliding down the roof, knees bent, feet neatly aligned and ready for a spectacular jump, the tips of his skis got caught behind the clotheslines lines next to the house. As a result he dived into the snow, headfirst - skis sticking out in the air. ⛷
While the rest of the company practically rolled over with laughter, I remember being the only one in utter shock, crying out Nei men pap-pa!
In winter, the route Konnerud-Drammen and vice-versa - was done on skis or on sled. One day my parents needed to go downtown Drammen for groceries, mom on the back of the sled. The first few hundred meters went smoothly apparently, but as the slopes got steeper and the turns sharper, the sled gained more and more speed until the point was reached where the brake lever no longer worked. In one of the sharpest bends, my mother was thrown off the sled, flew through the air and landed meters away in the snow dunes. It wasn't until my father arrived downtown Drammen, that he noticed the loss of his passenger. Did my mom believe his version of the story? No, she didn't. To be honest, there was literally nobody who believed his story. And I must say, he had only himself to blame. ;-)
No wonder these stories keep on going round in the family ever since.
How I would love to visit Konnerud again. For the cabin, for the special memories, and yes, for the snow and the cold as well. I would even participate in an Onsdagsrenn. If only for the cake server ;-)