Of course, nature has always meant a lot to me—even when I was home. The first five years we lived in Elverum. After a few years in a nearby town of Jessheim, we moved to Nannestad, where I have lived ever since.
I can remember nature-experiences even from my days in Elverum. For example the time I was four and I lay in a blueberry patch with my father. Suddenly a family of grouse came towards me. I lay there with big, unbelieving eyes. Just before that my father had said that we might be able to see grouse here. How could he have known that? For me, animals like grouse, moose, bears and lynx existed only in my imagination. We had talked a lot about such animals. Many times I thought I had seem them, too. That was, until I found out that the bear was a stump and the grouse was a root.
Grouse had always fascinated me. My father was not especially happy that after grouse hunts I would almost never write about anything else for school essays. Every time I had the chance, the title would be â€œA Fall day in the Mountainsâ€ or â€œWith Grouse in my Sightsâ€ or something similar. My parents would also include different challenges in our hikes. Instead of following the trails the whole time, there might be a little rock climbing. To reach the peak of a one- or two-meter rock cliff was something on the outside of what a little boy that size was capable of.
Near our cabin in Alvdal, we had our own Himalayan Mountains, where I would climb with a rope for the last few meters. At the top of the mountain we would celebrate the success with sausages prepared over a fire, while we marveled at the view. â€œThe top of the Himalayasâ€ was kept for the boys in the family. My mother and my sister, Hilde, didn’t have access to this place. But the girls didn’t care for this type of special treatment. After a while they beat this feat soundly. A few years ago Hilde erased any doubt about who is the best climber in the family. She reached the top of Kilimanjaro.
And then there were the fishing trips. Often they were just short afternoon trips to nearby rivers and streams, but there were also overnight trips together with friends. I was three when I caught my first fish, and it happened in a somewhat original way. The fish bit on to my jacket’s button as I stood by the edge of a indoor pool of fish at a museum in Elverum. I caught my first cod in the Sognefjord in western Norway as an eight year-old. I went along on a car trip to Brekke on one condition: that I could take my fishing pole with me. My own surprise was as great as my parents when I hooked a large adult cod. It happened as I sat alone in the boat. How I managed to maneuver the boat and simultaneously haul the cod over the boat’s edge is still a mystery to parents and me. They followed the drama from land. The fish was almost as big as the boy who caught it!
Many Jumps, Few Prizes
In Nannestad we had a forest as our nearest neighbor. Less than 100 meters from our living room there was a ski jump. It had a real built-up tower-style in-run, although we never jumped much more than 15 meters. Every day all winter the whole group of boys would be out there. Some weekends there were organized competitions, with participants from many clubs around the county. The volunteer who kept things going was KÃ¥re Kjelsrud, but the DÃ¦hlie family was also a big part. My father was the chief of competition, the race office was in our living room and my mother used our kitchen to run the cafeteria operation. Junior’s efforts were less meaningful. He almost always landed on the knoll. My father made a point of strategically placing himself on the out-run where he could pick me up out of the snow. Mother applauded, regardless of the style or the length. â€œI am happy just as long as you land with your skin intact,â€ she said. Even after a miserable attempt as a biathlete, where I found myself skiing seven penalty laps because I shot at my neighbor’s target, she was able to find something positive: she thanked me for the entertainment.
Even though I never fought for a place at the top of the results list, there wasn’t a harsh word coming from either of my parents. They never pressed me. In fact, their ambitions paled in comparison to my own. My ambitions were much bigger. It’s just too bad that my abilities weren’t on the same level, even though I did manage to beat Rune Olijnyk from Larenkog at the ski jump one time. He went on to take silver in the 1991 World Championships in Val di Fiemme. It is the same place that I had my own breakthrough in cross-country skiing.
There were many trips to other ski jumps as well. Together with Mother and Father, often just Mother, I traveled to other placed around the county. On the ski jumps I was a little too eager, a little afraid, and not especially talented. When the prizes were handed out, I stood and watched. Up until I was 12, when I took part in a race and finally did well. I was 13th: the last to be given a prize. After the good jumpers had come up and received their trophies, there was still a glass vase waiting on the table for me. The vase was small, but for me it made the day pretty big.
Like the other boys, young DÃ¦hlie did more than just ski jumping. We tried cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, biathlon, soccer, cycling, ice hockey and team handball. Most of us did everything, without thinking about or planning a career as an elite athlete as an adult. We were just active the whole time.