This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Danish outdoors: missed out by many

BranderiverThis little town has many great picnic spots. I cannot wait for warmer weather and lazy days on the grass with a good book, or in good company. The Danes do not seem to enjoy the great outdoors much, unless they are into mountain biking or have a dog that needs to attend to its business. Most evenings the gravel and forest trails are empty, save for those few dog walkers, and me and about three other runners. On Sundays the busiest time is before 2 pm, when families go for a leisurely stroll (even without dogs). And what is nearly unthinkable here in the dark Nordic winter: all gravel walks and trails are without artificial lighting, so enjoying the outdoors after dark is quite unpleasant.

The hiking trails are nearly empty compared to Finland. And so are all these beautiful picnic spots. At least this time of year. The Danes do not know what they are missing.
Brandebacks-spring-3(Brande, Denmark; February 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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Is Denmark really Nordic at all?

silkeborg-5The more time I spend here in Denmark, the more I am struck by how it is not really much like the rest of the Nordics. Instead of fells or mountains, Denmark is (nearly) flat. Copenhagen, with its bicycles, canals, cobblestone streets, beer, waffles, and rain reminds me of the Netherlands. So do the roads and many smaller towns, as well as how houses are built. The forest is nothing like Nordic, impenetrable, shrubby spruce or dry, lichen-covered pine. Instead there are airy beech forests like in central Europe, with dead leaves rattling under one’s shoes; and pine and spruce plantations where trees live in rows or are, at the very least, standing far apart with a clean, green moss floor in-between.silkeborg-4What is Nordic about Denmark is the language. And perhaps the setup of the social-democrat welfare society. Income tax is among the highest in the world, but schools, healthcare, libraries, child care, elderly care, you name it – are nearly or completely free of charge.

But hiking in Denmark is far away from rambling through the shrubs in Finland and closer to the tidy forest walks in the Netherlands or northern Germany.
silkeborg-3(Silkeborg, Denmark; November 2018)