Once, when I was working as a substitute teacher, in the beginning of my teacher career here, we took our second-graders to the local woods. To look for the spring signs. It was officially the subject of the class. To look for the first flowers, buds and bees, to listen to the birds. On return the kids had to fill out the form: “what have you seen and what have you heard?” The science teacher had warned them: “Don’t write “I have seen everything”, it is not interesting. Write what exactly you saw and what you heard (like birds)”. The smartest (or laziest) of them all wrote, of course, in their funny second-grader’s handwriting: “I have seen everything”. While others drew battle scenes from their fantasies. An early lesson on mindfulness. Failed? (Succeeded?)
I have caught myself in a pattern: every spring I go to the botanical garden. To look for the spring signs. After the long winter it feels like coming back to life. And when I see the first flowers, usually they come before the buds, I cheer like in some celebration: “It is spring again! The life has won again! We have survived this winter!” I guess, these emotions would not be understood by the inhabitants of the warmer countries where the season change is not so visible or not so important. But here in the North, where the country is covered in snow and ice for some five months, seeing the first signs of life is like waking up from the dead. For me it is an emotional thing. It seems that in the places where winters are long and harsh, the people are more keen to the change of seasons and are joyful about the spring arrival like no one else.
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While somewhere they already talk about the spring – look how much snow there is in the forest around Oslo! On Friday night I wrote a post about thriving in Norway – on Saturday I had a chance to practice what I preach 🙂
The past weekend we had visitors from Barcelona: the nephew of Carles and his girlfriend. A young couple of 19 year-olds, eager for the Nordic experience. So we took them to the woods. Or, wait a second, to that very famous Norwegian wood 🙂 We started from the frozen lake Sognsvann where you can walk on in winter and walked up the hill, in the snow, along the ski trails. The skiers of all ages were passing us by, while we were the only ones walking there. Add to this – talking in Spanish and Catalan, video calls from the grandmother in Barcelona, kids stopping all the time to take pictures and selfies – and this is how you get a totally non-Norwegian day in the woods :))
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I always make sure to walk through the flower market on my way from work. It is there even in the late evening hours, flowers keeping strong in the cold. Today I haven’t seen the usual orchids, and those red and pink beauties, today there were small fir-trees and wreaths with pinecones. Their message was clear: November has moved out, December is now in. At this very moment the church bells chimed through the square, making everything feel like a cozy Scandinavian fairytale. And I was thankful that I didn’t plug headphones in my ears like I usually do.
The Christmas lights hang across the street, and every time there is someone reaching for his phone to snap a picture. Christmas music sounds from the shops, and I think: “Nice try to make it all look cozy and nice. When it is biting cold, and the streets are icy. And the dark hours are more than the light ones”. Then I hear a kid passing by talking joyfully about “the yummy pancakes”. In that moment I envy that kid’s energy. Where do they take it in this dark period? I usually never have this feeling – but now I would like to see the world with the kid’s eyes. No Monday blues, no winter blues, no knowledge about melatonin and serotonin and their effect on our mood, no longing for another place I have seen in December, that was full of sunlight and singing parrots. Just eyes wide open, with the reflection of the Christmas lights in them, and touching the Christmas tree set up in front of the church – which must appear just the size of that church in his eyes. Not afraid of the ice on the streets, but sliding cheerfully on it. And not thinking about the distant sunny place – just living in the moment.
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In my part of the world the winter has moved in. Oslo has seen its first snow and the minus temperatures. Today we are measuring -5 degrees Celsius. Last week the Christmas lights and decorations were installed and the Christmas markets opened. As for me, it is a bit early to start the whole fuss five weeks before Christmas. On the other hand, those lights and cozy turmoil make these cold and dark days a little bit brighter. With sunsets at 15.40 and sunrises at 8.30 the days are so short. If all the dark hours were considered night, how long the night would be, we wondered. 16 hours right now – and more to come. Thus I justified my sleeping for more hours 🙂 Anyone else here feeling like hibernating?
In my own fashion of belated posting, I decided to share my finds of this autumn. In October I was looking forward to a photo walk in the botanical garden – and here are the treasures I collected there. Autumn fruit and flowers.
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Autumn has taken over our streets. With more leaves under my feet and more golden color on the trees, I discover a new rapture for the beauty of nature. However on this blog the autumn is still on hold, and fall images wait patiently. I still want to admire the flowers of late summer, I don’t want to hurry to golden leaves and autumn fruit. Maybe, on this blog everything will come a month or too later, than in nature, and that will be my way to prolong the pleasure and beauty of the past season 🙂
So today I want to share some photos I made in August. I want to give place to late summer blooms even if their season has passed. But there will be enough time for admiring autumn, so why not go back in time and recollect that fading beauty? It feels like it is still touching my fingertips as it is passing away. A reminder of life cycle. A reminder that the only constant in life is change.
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