Posts with the category ‘Norwegians in America’

Harvest Time on the Prairie

It’s not clear how many of the nineteenth-century settlers on the American prairie celebrated the official Thanksgiving holiday, which was not established until 1863. Many families must have had harvest feasts when they were finished gathering in what the land had produced, and as most settlers were religious in their orientation, they probably gave thanks to God. But the truth is, prairie harvests were often not that bountiful. Most settlers planted a cash crop – usually wheat – and many planted some corn and alfalfa to feed their livestock, as well as garden vegetables that would keep through the winter,… 

In the Land of Lutefisk

While researching my novel Searching for Nora, I was often asked “are you Norwegian?” The book is set in Norway and Minnesota, and so I traveled to both places to interview scholars, historians and Norwegian American descendants. The Norwegians, in particular, were curious about my heritage and sometimes spoke Norwegian to test my understanding. But I could only offer a faint smile, because I wasn’t Norwegian American any more than I was Italian American. I didn’t grow up attending lutefisk dinners in a knitted sweater and singing Norwegian table graces. Along the way, however, I came to wish I had…. 

Historical Fiction and Disappearing Birds

When I was working on my novel Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, I spent many hours driving around the beautiful open prairie of western Minnesota and the Dakotas. I grew quite enchanted by the land, with its huge bowl of sky and tall grass dancing in the wind. I was particularly fond of the birds I spotted – goldfinch, grasshopper sparrows, bobolink – that burst from the scrub along the road as I whooshed by. I loved the yellow-headed blackbirds best. Being from the east coast, I’d never seen one before. Sometimes I drove along the empty roads just… 

Creating the “Nora’s Journey” Photo Essay

While I was writing Searching for Nora, I often ran the story through my head like a movie, tinkering with scenes and enjoying the extended dream of the novel. When my husband and I talked about the book, he liked to imagine which actress would play Nora in the movie version, or where it might be shot. The entire time I worked on the book, Nora’s and Solvi’s worlds lived in my head, images at every turn. But when you write, you have to rely on words to convey the rich texture of the world you see in your mind’s…