A photo taken during 2016 Christmastime walk on a rainy afternoon in Bergen, Norway, has dealt Verona resident Diane Maurer a winning hand in the a Nordic-American photographers contest.
The contest chose Maurer’s photo as one of 56, out of 331 submissions, to be featured on a deck of cards from the Sons of Norway District 5 Scandinavian Photo Contest, said district publicity director Karen Eberhardt. The district, made up of lodges in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, announced the winners of the 2020 contest in September after receiving submissions from 72 photographers.
Winners of the photo contest can see their creations compiled into a deck of 56 playing cards – the typical 52 playing cards plus four trolls replacing the jokers, said Mauer. The Nordic scenes are printed in the center of each card, where a group of spades, hearts, diamonds or clubs would typically be.
The photo contest, and the selling of decks of cards, is a way for the Sons of Norway lodges in District 5 to recoup some of the money that’s been lost due to COVID-19 restrictions. That meant no money coming in from bake sales, fish boils, and Syttende Mai events. As a result, the district board of directors came up with the photo contest as a way to raise money, said Maurer.
The Sons of Norway would have been happy to sell 1,000 decks of cards, Maurer said. As of last week, it had sold them all and ordered another printing of 1,000 decks. Some of the money will go towards providing scholarships for Norwegian language immersion camps in 2021.
The district had never held a photo contest as a fundraiser before, Maurer said, but previously, it has sold items such as shirts, aprons or cookbooks.
The 72 entrants submitted photos of places, people and food from their personal travels to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland and were allowed up to five entries each.
“This was kind of a special thing,” she said. “I think because everyone was cooped up at home, they came up with the perfect idea to get everyone involved. It made you think of something happy, gave you something to do.”
Maurer captured her photo, titled “Rainy Christmas in Bergen,” when she spent Christmas 2016 in Norway with her nephews from Stoughton. On a rainy afternoon in the seaside harbor town, she and her family strolled down the brick and cobblestone sidewalks lining the historic buildings of the Bryggen world heritage site.
“Norwegians say there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing choices,” Maurer said of the waterlogged afternoon, which included a hike on Mount Fløyen. “We were dressed for the weather. The walking path that takes you down the mountain takes three hours and it was literally pouring. We went to a coffee shop to dry off and warm up and that’s when I took the photo of a row of stores.”
Bergen is known for rain, Maurer said. The area her family was in is called the fish market, in a section of the city where houses that are hundreds of years old are now mainly stores and gift shops.
Maurer’s snapshot of Nordic life will be displayed on the 10 of Clubs card. The titles of the photos are displayed at the top of the cards, with the photographer’s names and their lodges at the bottom. Maurer is a member of Stoughton’s Mandt lodge.
Maurer said she tries to take a trip every year, and said after every trip she puts together a hardbound photo book and that it was fun to go back over her travels looking for photos to submit.
She said it was killing her to sit at home this year due to the pandemic, and not take her annual trip, as well as stay apart from her fellow Lodge members.
“I think it was a good activity, hopefully they come up with another thing to engage members of different lodges without actually being together as a group,” she said. “But the most fun thing we do is get together to bake cookies and make lefse.”