A few years ago we were invited to an outdoor “family fun day” sponsored by our church in Mount Vernon. It happened to be pouring down rain that Saturday, but we put on our rain jackets and headed out anyway. I guess we’ve been around Norwegians enough that we realize “rain happens” but it doesn’t have to ruin any plans. We were shocked when we showed up and no one else was there.
The year we lived in Norway, we saw families put on their raincoats, rain pants and boots and head on out on hikes in the mountains, walks in the neighborhood, bike rides into town – all in the rain. It rains so much in our hometown in Norway that if people waited for a nice day to do anything outdoors, they’d never get outside. My son even complained when he attended school there that they must go outside during recess, no matter what the weather.
The last week of my son’s 4th grade year in Norway, his entire class and all their families were invited to a school beach party. It was pouring down rain that day but everyone still showed up with their little beach grills and hot dogs. People stood around under umbrellas, grilling and carrying on conversations like nothing was wrong with the day. Kids played soccer in the rain while parents prepared the picnic. Even for a person growing up in the rainy Northwest corner of America, it was an unexpected sight.
Norwegians are a hardy bunch. Even in winter, kids play soccer outside in the snow. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was a snowplow working the local soccer field. They cleared the field and piled up the snow around the edges so the kids could still have their practice. In America, Kaleb was on a little league soccer team for a few years in LaConner. They played for a total of eight weeks in the fall. I signed him up for soccer the year we were in Norway and was shocked to find out they play soccer all year around, except for eight weeks in the summer. He didn’t make it the whole year, it was just too brutal.
Summer weather in Norway is often brutal as well. One of my husband’s cousins likes to say, “If it’s summer, we’re outside.” He has a deck with a rainproof awning over it, an outdoor heating unit attached under the awning and plenty of wool socks and blankets in which to bundle up. No matter what the weather, if it’s summer, he is indeed, outside enjoying the fresh air while eating dinner, having a beer, reading the newspaper or visiting with us. It all must be done outside.
Helly Hansen, a famous Norwegian outdoor sportswear company has encapsulated the entire Norwegian philosophy by creating a slogan that gets repeated often in Norway on rainy days - “There’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothes.” How true it is.