Northern Harvest

Autumn nears its peak and the pearly pink of summer dawns give way to the misty breezes of Fall rustling through wayward harvest leaves.

People come out of their houses pulling on coats and scarves looking skywards to check for rain.

Odors of wet grass and smoke from burning dead branches and leaves scent the damp fields and escape into the half-asleep cities sighing with summer exhaustion.

Schools are abustle with children in new-term clothes, a few late-comers are still playing in the shadow-casting hedges in the gold-ripe fields, their feet flattening the wet turf into zig-zag dark trails.

For a few days still, the days are set in color against the molten good sun. The moors are softly mauved with heather and the sea is still a calm expanse of blue.

But soon, a wreath of hoarfrost will settle on the trails, finishing the year with a winter dusk stretching from November to January, bringing inside the people of the north to sit beside fires rejoicing in their dreams of another summer.

Summer in the countryside

White-painted wooden houses stand on gentle slopes on the green, wildflower hills of the southern coastscape of Norway. We locals call it simply «Sørlandet» meaning “Southland”.

All around, in every nook and cranny, the greenest grass you have ever seen creep up; emerald and windswept for the three months of summer.

June brings a flush of warmth and there are daisies in every possible patch of green; beside brooks, trails and roads.

Then, later in the summer, the trees ripen and spread their leafy branches up to the doorsteps of the white houses and the villages become lighthouses in a sea of green.

Two miles down the narrow road, just out of sight of the village, lays the sea. Here the scene changes. Large, open cliffs give way to little beaches and Sea Pinks and tiny streams looking for home.

Little lost islands, much smaller than they look, without shops or schools, dot the horizon. The only thing you might find here is a mooring pole crouched behind a cluster of Sea Pinks. Centuries of use has worn it down to a rusted sunset, yet it still clings fast to the land.

Next comes the farms, buried so deep in wheat fields and strawberry patches you can only see the rooftops from the road. Surrounded by open oldtime iron gates, these farms greet you with signs of self-picking strawberries and a rusted box for change.

This, with the schools, Farmers Markets and white wooden churches surrounded by windy birches, make up the Southland. Even with a few towns strung out by the seaside, it is still a land sunk in greenery and wildflowers, spun by its inhabitants, of love and unfailing kinship.

Nordic Winters

There is something so mesmerizing about Nordic winters. Perhaps because I grew up in the North, but I believe flocks of tourists would still agree with me.

There is something about the light…And I am not just talking about the northern lights. I am talking about the sun. So pale, but intensely lemon yellow. So low on the sky, it barely dips its head above the horizon. Making it feel as though it is always dusk or dawn.

And when it reflects on the crisp snow, or the thinly iced over fjords or lakes. Magic happens…

There is something about the air…always so clear and cold. Washing over your face in the morning, instantly refreshing you. There is not even a hint of pollution in that air. It just smells of ocean and trees and snow.

I love the soft blueness of cloudy days. It feels as though you have walked in to a world painted in all shades of pastels. Even people’s faces take on a softer and more mellow glow. And there is a quiet that comes with that softness. Only accompanied by the the sound of surf against the harbor and booted feet stepping in new snow.

Nordic Winters can seem lonely for those who appreciate social noise and crowds of people. You can walk along a street not seeing any other soul. But if you look closer you will see the light behind windows. Candle light and little warm glowing lamps and fire places. You might hear a faint sound of music or laughter. Or perhaps even get a glance of a family huddled up under blankets drinking coffee or cocoa to keep warm.

You might think this is not a very hospitable place for animals to live in. But our lake birds prefer to winter over here. They will always get plenty of food by walkers-by and even though most lakes freezes over, the ocean is never far away. You will see ducks and swans waddling on thin ice all through winter. It is a cozy and rather funny sight.

There certainly is something magic about Nordic Winters that I don’t find anywhere else in the world, even in cold and snowy countries. I think it has to do with the topography, the climate and the lack of pollution. It truly is a Winter Wonderland. That is, if you dress yourself properly. 😄😄