This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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In Utrecht

utrechtI thought I agreed to give a keynote talk in Copenhagen. It turned out to be in Utrecht. Glad I noticed it in time to book my flights. But I lost two days of work and I had to again travel to my absolute un-favorite country in Europe. After 15 years, I could barely recognize much of Utrecht. Perhaps it is just as good.

Fortunately, my hotel room was large enough to fit an entire dance floor. And there was a tub so squeaky clean I could not resist. Do you know what happens when you pour bath foam into a bubble bath? By surprise, I do now. Bubble overload.

(Utrecht, the Netherlands; June 2018)


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One country, two seas

dkbeachWith its brackish water, its smattering of islands between Finland and Sweden, and limited and slightly altered flora and fauna, the Baltic Sea is an inland sea and far from an ocean. Every seven years a huge saltwater swell pushes up the salinity gradient a notch, and slowly the rivers trickling down into the sea change it back towards sweet.

The animals and plants living in the Baltic Sea are the sturdiest, most adaptable ones that don’t mind the in-between conditions. Sweetwater perch and pike thrive in the sea. Seagulls and large cormorants don’t mind the smaller fish to eat. The herring has become a bonsai variant, called Baltic herring in English and something entirely different from herring in Swedish and Finnish.

Denmark is the gate to the Baltic Sea and its two coasts look like two separate worlds: its West coast (above) looks like any ocean shore, while its East coast (below) looks like a lake, which is what the Baltic Sea coast mostly resembles.

How convenient: if you live in Demark just pick your kind of seascape. dkbeach-2(Denmark, May 2018)


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Bridges across Denmark

storabaltSteaming across the Great Belt Bridge, I cannot help but think of how progressive and practical the Danes must be. And that they love bridges. There is the Øresund bridge (the one featured in the TV show; nearly 8 km long), the two Great Belt Bridges (each nearly 7 km long), the Storstrøm Bridge (over 3 km long), and 7 other bridges each spanning more than one kilometer in length.

Yes, it is difficult to get ship traffic through. Yes, some even collide with the bridges. But in the end they make people’s lives so much easier – and the content for a hit television show too, apparently.

(Store Bælt Bridge, Denmark; May 2018)


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Interlude: primroses gone wild

springflowersThis is what happens when you buy a couple of yellow primroses for your garden and leave them to flourish over 20 years, remembering each year not to mow the lawn until their bloom is over. Among the primroses are white wood anemones, blue scillas, and the offspring of a few purple corydalis that I planted as a kid. I found them in the local woodland and knew they were endangered – but I wanted them anyway. Well guess what, they are far from endangered in the garden of my parents.

(Helsinki, Finland; May 2018)