Would you like to know a secret? It is a tiny little secret, but one as precious as the first warmth of the sun in March. Each year carries one special day, the one that gives a lasting, unwavering sign that spring really has arrived. Not the first birdsong, nor the first crocuses peeking among dead leaves of grass. Not the surprise of sunshine at 6 pm.
The last and final sign of spring is the first day the sea, riddened of ice, has warmed enough to release a scent of salt, seaweed, and freedom onto the wing of the wind. That late night when I stepped out of the cab, tired after a long meeting in Stockholm – and was surrounded by the scent of the sea, forgetting everything else in the world? It was April 23rd.
(Uusikaupunki archipelago, Finland; May 2012)
Sometimes it is nice to have things handed to one on a silver platter – literally. And everybody deserves to float around in a spa and being pampered silly, from time to time. What is then better than taking a Friday off at a beautiful duck egg blue manor? Can you see the sunwashed terrace, and the glass of sparkling wine?
(Haikko manor, Porvoo, Finland; May 2013)
(Oslo, Norway; April 2013)
Any given Tuesday one could work – or one could have cocoa and cake way up above Oslo.
(Frognerseteren restaurant, Oslo, Norway; April 2013)
Hand over heart – did you really utterly love opera the first time you saw one? Did you melt into one hundred little streams of joy, or did you zone out before the end of the first act, when you realized you didn’t understand Italian or German or Hungarian and forgot to buy the libretto? And when it was all over, did you spend an infinity in your seat while the rest of the theater demanded four bows and fifteen minutes of ovation before you were finally allowed to leave?
Halfway into my third opera, gritting teeth, I remember realizing that the story is the tip of the iceberg. I let go, allowing the music to wash over me, and focused on the details: the intricate weave of notes, the gorgeous and creative stage set-up, the impossible notes sung by the coloratura soprano, and the way the conductor channeled another world through his body. An opera is not to be understood, it is to be felt. And sometimes, just sometimes, an opera house that allows you to walk all over it lowers the treshold – literally.
(Opera house, Oslo, Norway; April 2013)
Yes, the Vikings were famous seafarers, and yes, Norse vikings were the first ones to discover North America. But what about the biologist and anthropologist Heyerdahl, and the polar explorers and scientists Nansen and Amundsen? Did we forget that Norway did not lose her seafaring skills with the Vikings, and has a place to claim next to the great explorer countries that discovered the world as we know it?
Such an interesting facet in a tradition-embracing country. The polar explorer ship Fram does not have a Viking bow, but meter-thick walls to tackle any ice – and a name that only leaves one choice: Forward.
(Fram museum, Oslo, Norway; April 2013)