This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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About bucket lists

schafberg-4Do you love lists? (or perhaps you are now asking yourself, “what kind of question is that anyway – lists??”) I do. I love reading other people’s themed lists, and making lists of my own. And I love checking things off the list. Not for the sake of completion, i.e. feeling good after I’ve made the check-sign on top of an item (“been there, done that”). But during the experience in itself. For me, lists are tools to remind me of what I once decided was important, and then making the effort of actually going through the experience I consider important. Mindfully.

In the top corner of this blog I keep a few lists: two reading lists and an experience junkie list. But I have more lists, including a travel bucket list (who doesn’t?). Some of this travel bucket list I share with my sister, as we for the past 10 years have wandered off somewhere for a week together in the summer. It is a random collection of activities and places, mostly with a historical connection. And this summer we checked off one item of quite blurry origin: staying at the Schafberg in Austria.schafberg-8Why? Because of the view and the old historical guest house. How did it end up on our list? Honestly, neither one of us can remember. Perhaps my sister googled for something years ago, and found it. The photo above speaks for itself. And so one morning we took the bus from Salzburg to St Wolfgang and hopped on an old steam cogwheel train that slowly climbed to the top of Schafberg mountain.schafberg-1We were not the only ones who had the place on their bucket list. It would seem an Asian travel agency did, too, as each train brought up more Japanese and Chinese tourists, wearing sandals, dresses, sunhats, and scarves to keep them warm. It was not more than 14 degrees Celsius up there you see, and hardly the weather and terrain for summer finery. But the Japanese ladies admirably posed in their sundresses, holding their hats, while their (somewhat more ruggedly dressed) husbands took instagram and family album photos.

During the day the bald, grassy mountaintop was overrun with people. When the last train left at 5.30 pm, there was no more than two handfuls left. I was sad to see not a single Asian tourist had decided to stay overnight. But we did. We took a walk in the sudden silence. So did the others. No one spoke loudly. The only sound was the feathers of the jackdaws ruffling in the wind as they navigated the gusty winds around the cliffs.schafberg-5(Schafberg, Austria; July 2019)


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The real New York City

manhattanAs I stood by the DUMBO waterfront I tried to calculate how many people these huge boxy buildings on the opposite shore would contain, any given moment in time. This is the Manhattan skyline as as we know it. “As WE know it”. Because really, just 150 years ago it was like any old town. And just 500 years ago, when Europe was restless because of religious reformations against the Catholic church and Shakespeare wrote his famous plays, Manhattan was mostly swampland. With mosquitoes.

Times Square was a crossing of two rivers and a beaver pond. There were salt marshes and grasslands and forests, all home to turkeys, beavers, elk, and those mosquitoes. The area holding up the skyscrapers I was looking at was sea floor (much of lower Manhattan is landfill). This is the real New York. If this is news to you you might like this excellent article by the National Geographic.

My view of Manhattan is a fart in the history of time. Quickly formed, possibly also not very durable. And yet this is the “iconic” New York “we all know”. Hudson, visiting in 1609, knew the beavers. I doubt city kids today know beavers from anything else than school books (sorry, educational internet websites).

Were do New Yorkers go to rewild? Is Central Park enough or does one have to leave this once so lush and bountiful island?mannahatta.ngsversion.1502920743252.adapt.1900.1

Lower photo humbly borrowed from “Before New York”, National Geographic, September 2009

(New York, USA; April 2019)


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Spring arrived, in February

Brandebacks-spring-2Spring arrived too early. So early, that the first leaves faced mid-February night frosts and the finches and flycatchers had to desperately look for food: for those brave winter-bearing insects staggering out of their hiding places into the warm sunlight of a few noon-hours of the day.

Hopefully we will not have a “Finnish spring” here in Denmark, with another layer of frost and snow before summer really comes. Otherwise much newly awoken spring life will perish.
Brandebacks-spring(Brande, Denmark; February 2019)


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Across the moor in winter

Brandebacks-winterThe moor looks dramatic in winter, and it is not a landscape I feel at home in. I am used to sea, lakes, and thickets where you need violence or a machete to stumble through – not these open windswept landscapes with heather and farm animals.

The miniature moorland behind Brande is like all those old English novels come to life, the ones I read in my teens: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

(Brande, Denmark; February 2019)


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Denmark in deep winter

brandemose-4Denmark in deep winter means some ice and snow. But not much. And some light. But not as little as in Finland. On the first of February the light was blue and on its way out by the time I arrived. On that day I thought this would be my last visit and I took two photos, to remember. I sat in silence for a long time, pondering over how unpredictable and out of control life is, and how all we can do is try to hang on from the edge and insist that we have some sort of assertiveness over where we go. Because if we don’t try to assert control we do not assert ownership of our actions. A pond is a good place for pondering.

One month later, as I write this, I am still in Brande. There is sunshine in the air. The fish no longer need to survive on oxygen stored in the water under the ice, and I have regained the illusion that I do have control of most of what I do and choose. And I am thinking of the wise Pema Chödrön’s words: “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

brandemose-5(Brande, Denmark; February and March, 2019)