Nothing says “spring is coming to Norway” like the melting of snow. Unfortunately that is then followed by cold nights that transform the melted snow into treacherous sheets of ice.

That might sound a bit dramatic, but bear with me. In my less-than-two years of living in Norway the ice has been my longstanding foe. The results of our battles range from embarrassing encounters to broken bones.

Don’t let the pretty view fool you. This is White Walker Hill covered in powder, when it’s blanketed in ice, it’s much more menacing.

It’s not just me, most of my non-Norwegian friends here are also terrified of the ice. In fact, a couple people who work at the American Embassy have told me that each year there’s Americans who who slip and fall so bad that they get a concussion.

The Norwegians don’t see what the big deal is, largely because they’re used to ice-blanketed streets and they’ve developed a way to traverse them with ease.

When I see the Norwegians in action, I swear it’s like watching someone walk on water. I simply can’t wrap my brain around it. They can wear their tennis shoes and if they slip

Here are the various doohickies that I can attach to my shoes for added traction.

on the ice, they either bust out a quick jog to stay upright or position their legs as if they’re riding a snowboard and they glide to safety.

I usually don’t leave the house without these metal-spiky things attached to the bottom of my shoes that give me traction. But sometimes those aren’t enough.

Meet White Walker Hill

Last year, I was walking the boys to school and to get there we go down this huge, steep hill. I call it White Walker Hill because in the winter, it’s just that evil. Anyway, the kids around us were sliding down using their snowboard stance or zooming down on their bottoms. Meanwhile me and my boys were standing there, wondering how in the hell were we going to get down.

I decided to turn myself into a sled. Sitting down with my legs stretched out in front, I put the boys on my legs and down we went. The looks of shock and awe as we zipped past all the other kids were priceless. Even I was pretty impressed with our rate of speed, but we made it down safe and sound.

Norway’s Tokyo Drift

Another time when the roads were slick with ice, I decided driving would be a better way to get to school instead of transforming into a toboggan. Since I have winter tires and have been quite impressed with my car’s ability to handle slippery streets, I thought it was a brilliant idea.

Everything was going great until I pulled into the parking lot. I tried to stop, but couldn’t and jumped the curb, scaring a few kids and skidded dangerously close to a gleaming white BMW SUV. Thankfully I stopped before we collided. I kicked the boys out of the car, figuring that we had made it close enough to school and they could handle it from there. When I got ready to leave, the BMW was blocking my path and refused to move. After a few honks, I realized the BMW driver was in the same “move-a-muscle-and-you’ll-crash” situation that I was.

The daycare director came out and tossed gravel on the ground near the BMW’s and my tires. I put the car in park and made the director make all kinds of promises to me that everything would be fine before I would remove my foot from the brake. I slowly lifted my foot and miraculously, the car didn’t slide. I got out. I didn’t care that my car looked haphazardly parked, I just wanted to walk home and send my mother-in-law back to get it. (I always feel that she can do anything.) Then a dad asked me and the BMW lady if we wanted him to drive us out of the parking lot.

If you look closely you can see where my front tires slid along the sidewalk.

We happily accepted his offer. You should have seen this guy. He made our tires spin and the cars swivel like they were in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. He expertly guided our cars to safety and I was able to drive home. Clearly, it’s past time to work on my Norwegian ice-driving skills.

Broken bones: It was only a matter of time

My third showdown with the ice came last week. The boys and I were again getting ready to go down White Walker Hill. They shuffled ahead of me clutching to the fence that is at the hill’s very top. I too held onto the fence but the next thing I knew, I was looking up at the clouds. It didn’t dawn on me that I had fallen until I slammed into the fence and heard several cracks. I remember hoping that it was just my back working out some kinks.

Lying spread eagle on the ice, I heard someone wheezing. Turns out it was me. Clinging to a tree, I pulled myself up and bent over, trying to catch my breath. I made eye contact with this little boy who looked absolutely terrified. I’m sure I was scary, standing like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and making White Walker sounds.

Meanwhile my kids were safely at the bottom of the hill frantically waving at me to come down.

I felt helpless, I needed to get my kids to school but was stuck on this damn Hill. I called my husband, he didn’t answer. I considered turning myself into a sled again, but the pain radiating from my side vetoed that idea. I slowly trudged down the side of the hill without incident and my ever-so-patient offspring asked: “What took you so long Mom?”

I straight up lied and told them I was fine, but that I had just fallen down. After dropping off the kids, I tried to open the gate to the preschool and it hurt so bad I involuntarily screamed “SH*T!”

Aaaaand the daycare director was right behind me. Whoops.

He looked at me hesitantly, “Are you OK?”

“FINE!” I spat through gritted teeth. There was an awkward silence, and I reminded myself of how Norwegians expect you to answer such questions truthfully. With a sigh, I revealed I hurt myself falling on the ice. He offered to walk me to the doctor’s office which isn’t too far away. With tears in my eyes, I told him that I’d be fine and hobbled away.

I finally reached my husband on the phone and he seemed to do his own Tokyo Drift to get to me so fast. We went to the doctors and X-rays confirmed our suspicions. I had a few broken ribs.

My new hope is that my third winter living here will be much, much smoother and with no broken bones.


Just to show how icy it can get, one of my friends decided to take advantage of the weather last winter and ice skated to work.  Check this out:



The top reasons why Norwegian ice is my biggest foe — 4 Comments

  1. Melanie,
    Sorry for your pain but a hilarious and entertaining account of the joys of cross-cultural living. Also a reminder that I don’t want to live in those climates anymore. Call me wimpy, but I’ll take bizarre skin rashes and sores that never heal in the humidity over the frozen slip-and-slide life, thank you. All the best,

    • Thanks for the comment Jim! No apologies needed, as you know sh*t happens. Funny how we’ve gone from being well-versed in Metra schedules to now being foreigners in different lands. And I could never call you wimpy. Those weird skin rashes, sores, fighting kitchen fires, all of that which you and Graca do is amazing. Cheers,M

    • Ha! Yeah, I had a friend from Minnesota live here for a year and she too was surprised at the slippery-ness. She worked on a farm here, so getting up early to feed the horses was her daily “certain death” task. Truth be told, she fell, but never broke anything. Thanks for stopping by!

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