This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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A simple feast

simplefeastEvery second Sunday a big box arrives on my doorstep. Inside are the ingredients for three days of fresh, vegan, organic, unconventional meals, ready within 10-15 minutes each. Not only are the meals green and fast, they are also interesting: Indian curries, Levantese falafel pitas, and Mediterranean goodness. The salads, dressings and toppings that provide detail are often combinations I have never even thought of.

One portion is sufficient for a lunch and a dinner for one person, or two hearty lunches. Perfect for someone working from the home office. And everything that is left behind is biodegradable. Even the empty box gets picked up.

The price per Green Feast meal is the price of a simple café lunch but for me it is the opportunity cost of a) saving time; b) saving grocery shopping; and c) getting a little surprise every second week. And for those who would like to explore healthy vegan or vegetarian fare the Simple Feast meals are also a journey of inspiration.

(Vejle, Denmark; November 2019)

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Spotted: spikey

Spotted in the Helsinki airport baggage claim hall bathroom. Along with a bunch of other cute animal friends. This bathroom, like the other ones at the airport, is also decorated with wonderful birdsong which seems to make them more spacious and fresh. Ambiance matters.

(Helsinki airport, Vantaa, Finland; October 2019)

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Winter runs in Vejle

vejle-2The gorgeous forest trails around the house are all unlit at night (oh why? Same thing in Brande!). So on winter’s working days I resort to running a paved route which takes me to the top of Vejle. And the way down is steep. Christian Wintersvej is claimed to be the steepest road in Denmark. Unfortunately I have no photos but trust me, there is a descent so steep in this flat country that it requires the pedestrian section to be made as a looong stairway. While I choose to tackle this one downward it is nearly impossible to cover by running without knee pain at the bottom of the descent.

The way up on the other side of Jellingsvej is a killer, too. While it is less steep it just goes on forever. Fortunately the beautiful parkland and forest is a good distraction. As is the view from the top, over the city center and Vejle Fjord bridge. vejle-1(Vejle, Denmark; October 2019)

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Danes sure love deer

deerpark-2What’s the deal with deer parks in Denmark? Sofar I have run into deer parks in my both hometowns Brande and Vejle, as well as in Aarhus. And I know there are several around Copenhagen. The Danes sure seem to love deer.

Deer parks are parkland or wilderness, where you go for a leisurely walk and view deer. Interestingly, none of the species I’ve encountered (sika deer and fallow deer) are originally Danish, or even Nordic. The sika deer hails from East Asia (today mainly seen in Japan), while the beautifully horned and spotted fallow deer (below) was introduced to Europe, possibly by Phoenicians some 3,000 years ago, and adopted by many medieval aristocrats into their castle hunting grounds.

The native Danish roe deer are everywhere, even in our backyard forest in Vejle, but rarely in deer parks. I have also run into the other domestic species in the forest: the majestic, huge red deer. Think of Harry Potter’s patronus: an albino red deer stag. If you would like to see one for real, do head out into the rare natural forests of Jylland, not the deer parks.deerpark-1(Marselisborg Deer Park, Aarhus; October 2019)

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Sky stick

himmelpind-1Here in Vejle nature is just outside of the door: a kilometers long uphill slope overgrown with beech and birch trees which abruptly plateaus into grazing fields with horses and cows, and meadows with views all over the city. From the dining table floor-to-ceiling windows I can see trees covering the tall, lush slope right outside. Sparkly blue jays make a ruckus in the trees. Now that the branches are bare I have spotted deer more than once, as well as birds I have only seen in bird books before, back in Finland. And late into October the air outside was swarming with bats.

Further along the ridge there stands a funky looking fake (?) stone sculpture with viking-era engravings and runes. For some reason this bullet-looking thing and the clearing it stands on are called Himmelpind. Sky-stick in Danish. But it is neither a stick, nor is the clearing by far the highest point in the vicinity. Even the view is partially obstructed by the forest. Nothing of this makes any sense, but the place sure is beautiful. himmelpind-2(Vejle, Denmark; October 2019)

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Two golden oldies

R-CMy heart leapt when I saw these two sweethearts again. One has grown a little fat, but that’s okay: she is nearly sixteen years old. The other one is healthier than in many years – and he just turned fourteen. Even after a year I still miss them very much. And I am grateful to their new family for all this current happiness.

(Malmö, Sweden; October 2019)

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Sauna squeeze

Mon-6One late September night seven women squeezed into the oddest little sauna I have ever seen. There was sweat, steam, the fresh scent of birch twigs, and laughter. And there was nearly no light as candles would melt in the heat of the stove. Also, oddly, there was no water except for what was carried in in a bucket. Anyone wishing to wash themselves needed to do so outside, under the garden shower, in the moonlight (or in the main house bathroom).

I have understood these “sauna barrels” are all the rage in Denmark. And quite far removed from the Finnish purpose of sauna: a warm place to wash and scrub oneself as clean as possible. Furthermore, the Danes are currently much into “saunagus”: a scheduled program run by a sauna master in a public sauna or during a private event. This usually entails aromatherapy oils, steam, ice buckets, and potentially a relaxation or meditation exercise while people sit or lie down on the benches in the heat. Oddly for a Finn, the sauna master can also turn out to be a magician dressed in black-tie (how sweaty!) or a stand-up comedian. And if nothing else, he or she is expected to at least be able to spin towels in the air in a fancy way. All this is also quite far removed from the Finnish spartan sauna tradition, where not many words are spoken and certainly no tricks are performed as the sauna is a serious place for quiet and contemplation.

That late September night, seven women crammed into the sauna barrel. It was so dark we could not read the labels of the aromatherapy oils, so each scoopful of scented water turning into steam on the hot rocks was a surprise: mint, ylang-ylang, lemongrass, or something else? And there was much chatter and laughter, more than I am used to. Such joy took much space during that weekend, among new-found friends.Mon-5(Island of Møn, Denmark; September 2019)