National Geographic : 1971 Jul
weekend, I reacquainted myself with Oslo and with hearty Norwegian foods, and warmed again to the charming phrase, "Ver sd god"-literally, "Be so good." Norwegians contract it to a cheery "S'goo!", and use it to say "May I help you?" "Here you are!" "You're welcome!" and "Make yourself at home!" When Sunday dawned, late and gloomy, crowds converged on the underground tram station behind the National Theater. They strapped their skis outside each tram until it bristled like a porcupine. Most Norwegians are cross-country skiers, who eschew chair lifts and rely on light skis, bamboo poles, and their own good legs. For a nonskier like myself there is only one way to keep up with them on the trails of Oslo marka. I swallowed my pride and took it. Near Frognerseteren tram terminus, two young ski patrolmen, Eric Rustad and Anders Torp, waited with a quartet of Eskimo dogs and their rescue sled. I climbed aboard and we lurched off. Even on this gray, sleety day the fresh snowfall gleamed; shaggy firs slumped their shoulders under heavy white epaulets. Anders trilled softly like a bird, urging the dogs up hill. The trail rolled and twisted, and in min utes we might have been a thousand miles from anywhere-except for the skiers. There were old ones, young ones, couples, whole families with rucksacks; occasionally a father towing a tot on a little plastic tobog gan. They poled uphill silently, saving breath, and slid down around sharp curves with the skating turn cross-country skiers use. Typi cally, Eric told me, they would cover 15 to 20 kilometers-9 to 12 miles-that day. Most politely refrained from staring, pre suming me, sitting atop the rocking sled, to be an accident victim. Dog teams pick up eight or ten fracture or heart-attack cases in Oslo marka on an average weekend. But once, as we rested the dogs, a lad of eight or so gave in to curiosity. "Hva har det hendt med ham?" he asked in a small voice. "What happened to him?" "Tell him I broke my back but I am too proud to lie down," I instructed Anders, and donned the brave, crooked smile Humphrey Bogart used to wear whenever he took a bul let in a bad place. The boy's eyes widened wonderfully as we took off down the trail. I didn't feel half as guilty as I should have. I felt less lighthearted a few days later as (Continued on page 39) EKTACHROME( N.G .S . Nordic pagoda, the Fantoft stave church sprouts from a knoll near Bergen. Dating from the 12th century, the wooden shrine bristles with dragon gables that resemble Viking figureheads. Only Fantoft and a couple of dozen other stave churches named for the massive upright timbers supporting them-survive of an esti mated 900 built during the Middle Ages.