A Peek at a Weekend in Stoughton: Syttende Mai
Saturday, May 17, 2014 was momentous for the countrymen and immigrants of Norway. It was the bicentennial of their Constitution Day, a celebration of two hundred years of independence as a country, the oppressive years of German occupation notwithstanding.
It was also the official publication date for ODIN’S PROMISE.
Once again the words to that Richard Rogers Sound of Music song are looping through my brain:
Nothing comes from nothing,
nothing ever could,
so somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.
Not because I’m in love, but because my book-signing day in Stoughton, Wisconsin exceeded anything I could have imagined, or deserved.
All writers imagine the day when their books are published, when readers say good things about them, and when a signing or launch event is a success. Nothing in my wildest dreams would have been as much fun as this day was.
The Nordik Nook is an utterly charming shop, and Patrice Roe, the owner, was warm and welcoming. She and her staff made space for me in a prime spot, and traffic throughout the day was intense.
Several friends showed up to help with the celebration. A random survey of visitors indicated people had come from far and wide, often by the busload. I was finally able to meet Kathleen Spale, the accomplished artist who created the beautiful cover for Odin’s Promise. She made the trip up from the Chicago area and planned to enjoy the art fair in particular. Everyone I met was in a celebratory mood, curious about the book, and eagerly offered Norway’s traditional hospitality to me, to each other, and to the entertainers just outside the shop.
Sales were steady, which is always a good thing, but even better was the sense of VELKOMMEN I received there all day long.
The students pictured have nearly completed a year living in the area and will return to Oslo within a few weeks. They seemed delighted to see their homeland celebrated so authentically, and were ecstatic to find imported Norwegian chocolate available at the shop. Seems it’s one of the things they missed the most!
I plan to return sometime when things are less intense, that’s for sure. I don’t expect to see bunad being worn, or find performers on every corner.
But I’m eager to fully explore this shop and others, to walk the streets of such a friendly town and savor the experience in my memory. And Stoughton has a full schedule of activities throughout the year, with plenty to offer curious visitors.
If you find yourself anywhere in the area (southeast of Madison, Wisconsin), make it a point to do the same. And tell them I said hello!