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Humping a Hulder by a Hytte High on a Norwegian Hilltopby Abbe Ireland
It was a classic combination: the American Girl Scout and a Norwegian version of I Am Curious Yellow hiking together on a warm sunny day. Me, the perennial Girl Scout, stooping to examine pine needles and flowers along a narrow path winding upward, checking for animal spoor and tracks, while my lover returned to her dense native forest with tall, translucent ferns thick under towering pines, and hatched elemental plots, folklore plots of trolls, nøkken, nisse, and alluring, seductive hulder.
We climbed higher, breathing crisp fresh air pungent with pine sap and rich soil. Sparkling water in a clear, cold stream beside the trail rushed pell-mell over sticks and stones. An hour into our journey, a small white cabin appeared above us under a canopy of dark evergreens.
"Look! A hytte!" my lover exclaimed. "I wonder whose it is." She skipped lightly in blue Norwegian rubber boots along a half-hewn log crossing the stream. "I wonder if anyone's here."
I hurried behind, also curious to check the cabin and the view from its tiny railed porch. Far below steep hillsides of lush forest, a cold and deep blue mountain lake shimmered in the sunlight, home to scary-eyed nøkken pointing spindly fingers at passersbyI'd learn laterliving among its sunken logs and moss-covered branches.
We peeked in every window of the cottage and saw a tidy, rustic interior with metal cot and mattress, black iron stove, faded green table, four matching chairs, coffee pot, lantern, matches, and split firewood stacked beside the stove.
"No one here," mylover announced. "Not all summer, looks like. Too bad the door's locked. Shall we stop to rest? We could snack too."
We carried with us in knapsacks a thermos of coffee, creamy cheese on fresh bread, and homemade dessert. Norwegians don't bother with American Express cards, I'd discovered already: It's coffee and sweets they never leave home without, unless the host at their destination guarantees to provide them. My lover even packed a red-and-white tablecloth and linen napkins.