A few months after shooting the first leg of the 2013 Subaru Forester’s trip around the world, AOI Pro contacted me and asked if I’d like to go to Norway to shoot the next leg. I jumped at the chance- I’ve always wanted to go to Norway and after I moved to Australia I considered the chances of ever going to be close to nil. Even though there would only be 4-5 hours of daylight a day, -20C most days and it would be something like 28-35 hours of travel each way depending on flight times and delays and it would be right before Christmas, I had to go.
My dad’s side of the family is Norwegian- that’s where the name Wigdahl comes from. We grew up with lots of relatives in the “Yassir, you betcha, I’ll bring some casserole to the pot luck!” Scandinavian diaspora of Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. During the holidays at the Wigdahl’s we ate mashed potatoes and meatballs, pickled herring and lefse covered in butter and sugar. My grandparents had little troll figurines around the house and my family drank coffee from the time we woke up to just before bed. We were told that Uff da! was basically the Norwegian all-purpose curse but my Norwegian friends from Norway told me that it’s basically equivalent to shouting “Jeepers!” or “Gosh darnit!” But growing up in New Jersey and being of Norwegian descent meant that we didn’t really know anybody else who was Norwegian so we took our grandparent’s word (and maybe Garrison Keilor’s) for what being Norwegian meant.
Aside from the curiosity of knowing where one’s ancestors comes from, I think my brother and I were always sort of plagued by the question of “How much of this is my fault and how much is it genetics?” hahaha. Scandinavian music that makes it abroad seems to be either insanely heavy death metal or club music. Scandinavian films tend to favor the silent, expressionless, melancholic hero bathed in dusky blue light. The dusky blue light was true but everyone I met in Norway was really lovely and chipper and constantly offering me a cup of coffee. My assistant did point out that the snowsuit I was wearing while in Norway was the kind of snowsuit that homeless people wear- so that might be a reason why everyone was so keen to offer me coffee and a waffle but I was stricken by generally how friendly the Norwegians were and how perfect their English was and it made traveling a breeze. I kept thinking what a shame it was that I couldn’t spend some serious time in Norway to meet more people and to see how this incredible landscape could transform from white to green.