Archives for the month of: September, 2009

It’s completely silent up here.

When you hear the word mountains, what comes to mind?  I’m from a flattish place, and I’d always thought of the Alps or the Himalayas until I moved to Norway.  Here is a different kind of mountain range, like the highlands of Scotland only bigger.  Last week we went to the Rondane mountains north of Lillehammer for a couple of days.  It is bleak and very wild, quite extraordinary.  Many families have a cabin here that they go to at Easter to ski, and in the autumn to pick multebær, and a few other times every year.  All the cabins are exactly the same, almost; the same shallow pitch to the gable roof and the same dark-stained boards anyway.  They are scattered about the land, not specially pretty but not bothersome either.  Some have grass roofs.


The next time we go I’ll take a picture on the way up from the river valley; it’s a bit like parts of the Rhine, this sort of thing:

with old farms and you expect to see vineyards on the hillsides, which makes the plateau at the top quite a contrast:


There is flat marshland and heather.  And quickly changing weather:


Lots of small streams and waterfalls in the summer:


Some animals: sheep, lynx, elk, reindeer.  And birds: I don’t know all the birds, only grouse.

A forest of tiny old moss-covered birch trees surrounds our cabin:


I’ve never got any further North than this bit right here:


We always say one day we’ll drive all the way to the old copper-mining town of Røros, but it’s a long way and it’s difficult to make the effort.

Down the hill from our garden is a mist.  You can see that it’s starting to be autumn:


Look what my wife found:


She saw them on the way home, after collecting the goats from the reservoir, and put them in her pocket.  In the autumn our hillside is like an anthill;  hundreds of people come up here carrying small baskets, combing the woods for fungi.  Some have their own secret place to look.  We have a couple of spots we like to think of as our own, though often someone else gets there first.  Then we continue on hopefully, and we aren’t usually entirely disappointed.  My wife’s trick was to venture on to private property, to boldly go where no myco-gastronomist had gone before.  She found them nestled beside the gateway to our neighbour’s farm.  We had them fried in butter, with steak.

Earlier in the week we went mushroom hunting with some expert friends and found lots of these:


They seem insignificant.  They are trakt (i.e. funnel) kantereller, a small but very strongly-flavoured chanterelle that is known in English as Yellow Foot, or Yellow Stem, in German as Trompetenpfifferling, in French as Chanterelle en tube and in Russian as лисичка желтеющая.  If read knows the Mongolian name or anyone the Spanish or Italian, I will put those (and any others, of course.  Be the first on your block to know the Wolof word for лисичка желтеющая, Trompetenpfifferling in Twi).  The funnel goes down through the stem, ‘trumpet’ is a good description.  I’m sorry the picture’s a bit fuzzy.

What I’m hoping to find, and I know they are here somewhere, is steinsopp, or porcini. According to Wikipedia, they have ‘a symbiotic relation with conifers’, so they ought to be around.  I’m not a very good mushroom spotter, though.  My friend Jon-Petter, the expert, wears his reading glasses to search.

This is just here to link to Siganus Sutor’s wonderful photograph of a baobab tree at his blog.  I feel like booking a ticket to Mauritius.

Early September in southern Norway means it’s time to harvest this year’s marshmallows; and a bumper crop it is, thanks to the rain we’ve been having.


Marshmallows thrive in this climate.  Their only known foe is the Norwegian Marshmallow Monster.  There was one in the adjoining field:


it comes at night and gorges on marshmallows.

monster2 When it awakes the following afternoon it has no memory of what happened.

*By Jamessal.  © Photo by Codfish.

IMG_0942and then I found a sock in the hamper, and killed it, and tossed it around, and dunked it in your water, and put it next to all the other… I’m sorry, one second.  Can I help you?’

A picture from our correspondent in the Indian Ocean, Siganus Sutor.  Here are one hundred and twenty-five goats, one dog and a man, probably a goat herd or compulsive pet owner, he recently bumped into in Mauritius.  I’m not sure it’s exactly 125; Sig, who moonlights as a structural engineer, is likely to have added a hefty safety factor.  If you click twice on it, the picture is easier to see.

One hundred and twenty-five goats