Equinox – a season turning point

Today at 00:07 AM (GWT) it happens: The sun will be directly over the equator and the day and night are equally long – all over the world!

In a wider sense, the equinoxes are the two days (in Marsh and September) each year when the centre of the Sun spends an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth. The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night). Furthermore, the atmosphere refracts light, so even when the upper limb of the Sun is below the horizon; its rays reach over the horizon to the ground.

In Norway it means a lot as only three months ago had 6 hours daylight – today we have 12 – and in three month almost 24. Well up north in June, the sun doesn’t set at all – the land of the midnight sun you know:-)

If I in a simple way should explain what it means, I’ll show you with some pics from my garden:

Snow bells – Scilla

It means spring is in the air. It means that plants are waking up from hibernation and some even more stubborn than others. It means warmer weather – from -21C at the coldest in Oslo this winter to +25C or more in the summer time. It means less clothes and longer nights (romantic ones as well:-) It means warm enough temperature in the water to dive in and opportunities to enjoy a cold beer on an outdoor restaurant with good friends. It also means more people out and here you see a bunch of mothers enjoying the spring weather in Oslo:

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

So what does Equinox means to you?

Btw: I’m off to Rome for a couple of days. Business and a bit of pleasure and also to contribute with a short stay in Italy with the Lifecruisers Cyber Cruise (click to see the route!). So forgive me if I’m not that much around visiting and commenting!

Spring is in the air!

This blog, my Terella, is meant to be about Norway and the Nordic countries; the significant four seasons, our culture and habits. So it is with great pleasure I now declare the Spring Season to be starting for real. This means going from the dark period, when you don’t see the sun more than a couple of hours low on the horizon, a lot of snow and the temperature is mostly below freezing, to daylight until late in the evening. Already now the sun is up until 9 pm! Yes, this is the land of the midnight sun, but in Oslo we have a couple of hours of darkness in the middle of the night. Remember Norway is at the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia and looking at it in this prospective, the change from strong winter to light spring is important and significant. Since November not only the brown bears, but all of nature has literally been in hibernation and now it’s waking up and reaching for the sun. In this post, I will give you some proof:

The RoyalCastle starts to prepare for the summer:

Last week, after a meeting, I was passing the King’s Castle. In front, I found these two young girls experiencing that spring was in the air. (I had my mobile phone camera ready of course) Their winter coats were still on, but will soon be gone and as you can see, the lawn is not yet green, but it has its potential.

Some of the staff where cleaning up the King’s garden and planting to make the very best presentation for the 17th of May, Norway’s national day – our Independence Day.

Some spring flowers, Crocus, have found its way up from the defrosted ground even though there is still some snow left, as you can see in the background. Down from the monument of King Karl Johan on horse, you have a view of Oslo’s main street named after him. That will be the parade street on the 17th of May where all the children will march to salute the King’s family who stands on the balcony, which you can see in the first picture.

Let me tell you about the birds and the bees:

Every day in April, we are looking for signs of spring around our house. A couple of weeks ago, my wife showed me the scilla, which could not even wait for the snow to disappear. I just love to see this as the proof of the power of nature. Even if it seems hopeless in the cold and snowy winter time, there is life in the ground and it appears as soon as the sun starts warming it up. Not that I dislike the winter time – you have plenty of posts in my blog showing the just the opposite!

Last Saturday we were starting the same garden clean up as the King :-) and I saw bees flying around and helping the flowers to multiply. Remember it is only my mobile phone camera, but I do hope you still can see there is love in the air too.

Our first garden BBQ this year:

Married to an American gives a lot of joyful experiences. One of them is that the grill is out before all the snow is all gone. I wasn’t used to bringing it out before June, but she insists and I don’t mind. We had a visit from a couple friends from Bulgaria and my wife made some wonderful shish kebabs. My job is to grill them, which I do with pleasure. In that, I can’t resist a comment here: I would not say I am helpless in the kitchen, but most of the time my wife is most active in the cooking department – I make excellent gravies though! However when it comes to grilling, I am the master. Is it the same in you’re family?

Like I said, this blog is about the significant four seasons. Take a look at my post from January and February and you will know all about winter in Norway. From now on, the posts will be warmer, sunnier and with less clothes every day. So stay tuned!

The Easter Egg Hunt

I’m so exited to report about this quality time with my family as this tradition is one of my favourites. I’ve done this as long as I can remember – the Easter Egg Hunting. The first time, my father gave me a ride in his back bag for the egg hunt in the forest. Most of you might think of Easter Eggs as something you decorate. We did that of course as well, but this tradition is about hunting them. Not ordinary hen egg, but egg laid by Easter Hare in the forest. Do I believe it is possible? – Well of course, I’ve seen it done on this Holiday for decades! We actually never saw the bunny, but my parents told me they did it, so then it has to be true, and it has never been quested in the family. It’s just the same as Santa brings the gifts of course. People who don’t believe in this have missed out something important from their childhood I think. I’ll start with the picture of the hunting trophies. Then you’ll have the story.

The Easter Egg Hunters

Thinking of the preparation brings a lot of lovely memories from when I grew up. Spring is in the air. The nature is waking up and you can almost smell it when you go out in the forest. There might be some snow left, but you also see the first spring flowers peeking up from the leaves on the ground. Mom is making cacao and packing the back bags with thermos, hot dogs and rolls. This was also the time to bring our forest knife – I got my first one when I was 6 – and to make tree bark flute, bows and arrows and other fun things. It was also useful to make sticks for cooking the hot dogs on the fire of course. I remember I felt free, alive and very much a part of the nature and the elements. But back to the hunting:

Hunting the Easter Eggs

We have used the same spot by the sea for ages 20 minutes walk from the parking spot and my father is always the one who comes first as we are looking at the nature waking up in all its details on our way. We never asked why dad was there first as the “obvious” reason was that he had to find the best spot and start the fire :-) But as soon as we got there, the hunting began. Dad always gave some hints and said he might have seen the Easter bunny in this or that direction. The excitements, the struggle in climbing and the adventure while hunting was fun – and still is! Just look at the pics (click on them to enlarge) and you see what I mean.

The egg and my sister

The hare has hidden them quite well, but one after another they are found and the hunter is shouting out: “I’ve found my egg”. My sister’s and my egg’s are the same ones we used as children and always filled up with sweets by my mom. This event is full of rituals and traditions you know!

At the open fire

After the hunting we are exhausted and hungry and the next exiting episode can start: Cooking the hot dogs over the open fire. The last couple of years my sister has made a type of dough to wrap around the hot dogs. When the hot dogs are cooked, the dough bakes into a delicious roll. Sitting around the fire, we share stories and sing songs as we eat and drink the hot cacao. If that isn’t quality time and wonderful family tradition, what is?

The sign of spring!

I told you about the nature waking up as well: here you see the most significant sign of spring in Norway – the ‘blåveis’ (hepatica). This blog is about the four seasons in Norway. I now declare the spring time is finally here! Thanks to the long, cold and snowy winter, we appreciate it a lot, you know.

What was in my egg

Haven’t heard about the Easter Bunny Egg, well here is the mythology: Eostre found a wounded bird in the snow. To help the little bird survive the winter, she transformed it into a rabbit, but the transformation was incomplete and the rabbit retained the ability to lay eggs. In thanks for its life being saved, the rabbit took the eggs and decorated them and left them as gifts for Eostre. Read more about it by clicking here.

Through the streets of Oslo

On my way to the annual meeting at The Norwegian Association of Masters of Science, I went through the streets of Oslo. It was a lovely, sunny weather but still cold (just above freezing) since the winter continues in Norway. I have told you that this blog would among a lot of things in my daily life, be a chronicle about our significant four seasons. This afternoon I saw some signs of spring and I could not resist capturing some and sharing it with you. The pictures are again taken with my Nokia mobile phone – please click to enlarge!

First to give you the right atmosphere and show you that king winter is still in charge, I show you again the lovely ice skating rink in the middle of the town in front of the parliament. There is still a lot of snow around as you can see.

But then a spring sign: The outdoor street cafés are popping up all over. For the guests to survive the cold they are covered with awnings and on the wall beneath, you have a glance of the heaters. Some without heaters and less covered (to the right) have less guests and they are well dressed up for the season. But they are sitting outdoors and that is a tiny little sign of spring for us Norwegians.

Some cafés are even escalated their services by offering the guests extra blankets on the chairs. These are mostly used by smoking guests since you are not allowed to smoke inside a public building in Norway. Another spring sign is that the street troubadours are invading the city of Oslo. To the right you see an Englishman singing the song inspiring me to give this post the title – the song of Ralph McTell: “Streets of London”. So spring will soon be here and I will let you know when it is for real. In the mean time I like you to enjoy the rest of the winter time in anticipation with me :-)

But my most important message today is to say thank you so very much to the lovely person – Chas – who have done the makeover of my blog. He sais he is still working on it, so please come back to see it. Visit his blog and give him the credit he deserve: !