Morning in Oslo

We’re lodging in the hotel at the central railroad station, which is just about perfect for our needs and preferences. Ordinarily central city would not be my comfort situation, but it’s Oslo. Passage here: trans-Atlantic was a breeze, some discomfiture with getting bookings settled at our Amsterdam connection, and then, arriving Oslo Lufthavn, totally chill. Convenient fast train in to Oslo Sentral. A walkabout last night, with the obligatory ascent of the Operahuset for a look around, thence around the quay to a food truck-bar complex to grab a bite of supper, hang out, and read. Up in the night with old-guy leg cramps, which disturbed Dr. Kelley’s sleep, so she’s lying in this morning. While I work out, write a review, and graze the breakfast buffet. Excellent coffee, of course.

Not sure what Dr. K will propose for the day’s itinerary, but I think we need to get over to Frogner Park and see the Fjelde bust of Lincoln that Governor Hanna sent over and that became such an important symbol of Norwegian resistance during the Second World War. I’m sure sometime during the day we’ll settle in somewhere for reading and writing.

Speaking of which, I did finish my paper for presentation in a few days in Stavanger, and found myself channeling Bernie DeVoto by resorting to synecdoche. I know that’s a wonky literary term, but it just means deploying a representative and symbolic personage or episode in order to represent a larger and complicated subject. In this case, the larger and complicated subject is the changing climate (Little Ice Age to the modern, warming era of the Holocene) and the difficulty understanding it while experiencing it. Late in the paper I home in on 1886, the perilous pinnacle of the range cattle industry on the northern plains, to argue that the cattle kings assumed continuity of the LIA regime of cold, open winters favorable for over-wintering livestock, but in fact, the warming climatic regime was set to deliver disastrously snowy winters. In that year the Motana stockman John Lepley penned a ballad, “The Cattle King’s Prayer,” imploring the Almighty for “Italian skies and little snow.” I will sing his ballad. It’s a good one.

Is this sort of literary touch acceptable in a scholarly paper presentation? I know it will go over fine; I’ve done this sort of thing before. It will come as a surprise to the international scholars among us, but there will be anough old friends present to warm the reception. Dr. K says this is unfair. I’m seventy years old, and I don’t care. I also believe there is enough fresh substance in my interpretive paper to carry it.

Now, before Dr. K emerges and we organize our recon of historic points of interest in the city, I’m turning back to the buffet and to Randall Parish’s 1907 history, The Great Plains: The Romance of Western American Exploration, Warfare, and Settlement, 1527-1870. Organizing a review of it for Plains Folk. Good morning.

Thomas D. Isern

Professor of History & University Distinguished Professor, North Dakota State University

3 thoughts on “Morning in Oslo

  • July 28, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Really enjoyed reading this and almost feel like am there with you …

  • July 28, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Have a wonderful time! They will love you as we all do!
    Take Magnesium supplements for the leg cramps. I take it every day or I am up at night! Blessings sweet people!

    • July 29, 2022 at 8:49 am

      Already taking the Mg, Lana! May have to hit up the hotel bartender for pickle juice.


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