From frozen ice to hot bikinis

We’ve had gorgeous weather in Scandinavia this week and we sure do know how to appreciate it! My regular readers have seen how the Nordic countries have changed from dark and cold in November last year and today I’m going to take you to the hot sandy beach of summer. From -20C (-4F) in December to around 30C (86F) the last few days. We’ve even been warmer then 20C (68F) at midnight, which we call tropical nights in the Nordic countries. Add to that a late sunset and early rise and you can tell it is an eldorado for romantic evenings or nights :-) I took some pictures around the area where we have our summer house and more are shown in my previous post, gone golfing. I’ve saved the best for this post though, let’s start at the hot sunny beach.

All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – click to enlarge!

Since we don’t have it all year around, the Nordic people go crazy when a hot sunny summer day comes along. The streets and the malls are empty and all the people are enjoying a refreshing cool down in the sea. Four months ago they were walking around in snowsuits, hats and gloves. Everyone was skiing or skating and enjoying the winter time. Today they wear as little as possible and are crazy about getting a tan. Some even drop their tops, which is fairly common and not that noticed in Scandinavia.

These two pictures were taken in the beginning of April and you can see the same beach and pier in the background as in the first picture above. If you look at the picture on the left and see the first picture in this post, you might get an idea of why we love the four seasons. It might be cold and icy for a while, but the nature never betrays us, as we know their will be days like this in the months ahead.

Here is another example from another nearby beach taken at the same time. I take it you can tell which of them are from which season :-)

I’m still “gone golfing” (see my post below!), so let me give you another example of the significant seasons from the course. At left a photo from April, and at right from yesterday. Yes, you see me putting without my club shirt (sorry if you fine this offensive!) and yes it is against the roles, but my wife are entitle to some excitements too you know:-)

Some of you have commented before that you could survive the summer time in Scandinavia, but not the winter and the cold. You might have missed the point here. Winter with snow and ice are fun! Besides, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I would not miss skiing in the mountains or a skating trip on the lakes. The nature and the opportunities are great at that time too (just see some post in the archives from January or February!)

But now it is the hot summer and we know how to appreciate that too:-)

"Gone Golfing"

This post will be about the impact of the significant four seasons in the Nordic countries. The reason for my fascination is the change and the fact that things are more precious if you don’t have them all the time. Don’t you think life would be boring if all day’s where Sundays and it was Christmas every weekend? I wouldn’t survive either (as many of you have commented) if there was winter, snow and freezing all year around. But I do survive because I know there will be warm, sunny summers and before that the anticipation in spring, where the nature starts to show life as the plants grow their leaves and the ice melts into lovely waterfalls. To demonstrate my point, I’ll take you a round tour at my ‘home’ golf club in Sweden:

All pictures are taken with my mobile phone. Please click to enlarge!

We where there in the beginning of April when the snow had almost melted. It was still cold, but of course I had to try my swing. At left you see me practicing my swing in front of the club house and to the right in the beginning of June; I’m starting from the tee at the 10th hole.

We played even earlier last year, but the ground was frozen. That means fun golf, because the ball bounces around in even more unpredictable ways:-). At left you see the winter golf opportunities in the Nordic countries and to the right; you see my taking a rest at the course now in the beauty of summer.

In the winter time, at least the bunkers are full of snow and the greens are closed to protect them. While in the summer time the fountains are sprinkling and the ponds full of baby ducklings. For me golf in the winter time is done out of curiosity or fun while at summer time out of relaxation. Nothing gives me more energy, more joy or peace in my soul than having this quality time on the course together with my wife. We can chat about everything, or we can listen to the birds and watch the mother deer on her daily walk with her baby. We sometimes see foxes and rabbits or a snake here and there (there are not poison or at least not deadly here!).

To give you one last example, I’ll show you how the waters are frozen in the winter time and how much alive and providing a home to the duck family in the summer. Sometimes I forget time and place watching them. Times stops and I count my blessing for being alive and have the possibilities to experience and explore the mystery of nature. Then my wife very gently whisper in my ears: “we are playing golf dear…” and then she helps me to find the ball (I dream of the day when I have this remote control on my mobile phone to get the ball whistle telling me where it is :-)

So now it is summer time and I have learned to fully take advantage of its opportunities for the human spirit and health. The subject “Gone for golfing” of today’s post means that I will be spending more time with my family and have some weeks of vacation now. There will be fewer posts from me in July, the summer vacation time in the Nordic countries. Stay tuned though, as there might be some more adventures to report from quality times with my wife and the children as I love swimming, boating, touring, biking, fishing and playing in the water:-)

Summer Solstice in Norway

Since this blog, my Terella, is about Norway and its significant four seasons, what is more natural than mentioning the Summer Solstice? The night before the 21st of June is the shortest as the sun rises at 3:49AM and sets at 10:46PM. A dramatic difference from the 21st of December when the sun rise at 9:18AM and sets 14:32PM. Please read my post about Winter Solstice.

Up north, above the polar circle the sun never sets or rises at this time – at all. Norway is the land of the midnight sun, you know! In the Nordic countries we have been celebrating the midsummer night for thousands of years, this “fire wheel” was an important, mysteries, magic and holy part of nature. In December, they held wild parties with lots of food and beer to boost the people’s strength and to forget and survive the darkness. In June, they held even wilder parties to celebrate and praise the sun shining almost 24/7.

Since it is June now, let me show you a couple of pictures from out in our garden last night at 11:59PM and even then, the sky is quite bright.

Taken with my mobile phone from my garden last night.

St. Hans – St. John’s Eve:
A blend of hedonistic sun worship, biblical John the Baptist, clever church politics, holy fire and witches pave the way of history that leads to today’s St. Hans celebration:
In Norway, Hans is short for Johannes, or John. The St. Hans celebration (at 24th of June) is for his birthday. Historians say that he actually was not born that day, but the religious leaders in the 400 centuries needed to replace the wild celebrations of hedonists. That’s the same as the way the church set up Jesus birthday to the 24th of December. The old, pagan tradition of gathering around bonfires on this night is now the only mark of this day. For a while, until 1770, it was a religious holiday, but today it’s all about the bonfires and summer celebration.

Planks, rotten wood, leaves etc are gathered and set on fire. In addition there are often competitions for the children, lotteries and barbequing. There are many superstitions connected with the eve of St. John. For instance, the bonfire was believed to give protection from evil spirits and to keep witches away. Another superstition was that herbs and plants had magic powers on this night. Also, if a girl on this day picked 7 different kinds of flowers and put them under her pillow, she would dream about her future husband that night.

This summer solstice compared to the winter solstice in December really demonstrates the spectre of season differences in Norway. From the cold, dark and snowy mid winter (average temperature around -5C or 23F) to the warm mid summer (average temperature 18C or 65F). To give you an example:

January 2006 – June 2006
Taken with my mobile phone from my second floor window.

Happy St. Hans, St. John’s Eve or Mid Summer everyone!

Hardangervidda, Northern Europe’s largest high mountain plateau

In my privies post, I told you we took my mother in law for a trip from Oslo to Bergen. Going by car, it gave us all a chance to experience one of Norway’s most beautiful landscapes. From the deepest valley at sea level, to the highest mountains above 2 000 meters or 6 500 feet. Hardangervidda is a national treasure and includes Norways largest national park. It is the home of the largest herd of wild reindeer in Europe and is also the southern limit of many arctic plants and animals, such as the Arctic Fox and Snowy Owl. The park is also famous for its numerous lakes and streams with excellent mountain trout.

I start with a picture from the top of the plateau. It’s taken with my Nikon CoolPix camera. It’s late May, but still some snow left from the winter, although most of it will soon be gone with the long summer days ahead. On both sides of the road you can see some sticks. These are to show the snow plows where the road is during the snowy and windy winter season. Notice also there are no trees. The tree boarder or level are at 1 000 Meters or 3 300 Feet.

The rest of the pictures are as normal for my blog, taken with my mobile phone camera. We had to stop many times to capture the beautiful view. The trip one way is only 450 Km or 280 Miles, but we used 9 hours because we really wanted to take it all in.

I guess the most breath taking sight is the many waterfalls. Some far away in the mountains and some quite close. It’s so wonderful to see the elements showing their power, the water endlessly falling as there is more and more coming from the mountain top. That is also the reason why most of the electricity in Norway comes from natural waterfalls and why the price of it is relatively cheep.

Coming down from the mountain tops, there where farms up in the steep hills. One can wonder how they came up with the idea of settling there, but in Norway it has been that way for hundreds or even thousands of years. Some were so steep that you wonder why the sheep didn’t fall down, but then again as the farmers, they are great climbers.

There are also many deep valleys with more breath taking views. One time when we stopped to take some pictures, my mother in law said: ‘I get goose bumps’ by looking at this. As host we felt really happy that we had given her a thrill money can’t by :-)

Let me end this post with anther wonderful view. It was just outside the cottage we rented just outside of Bergen. The picture is taken at 10:30PM, at dusk. A taste of what the land of the midnight sun can bring you in May.