This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Like an oil painting

I stopped by the little lake on my daily route around the park. With the yellow, falling leaves and deeply overcast sky it looked like from an old, English countryside oil painting. Except that it was so much more rich and detailed.

I sometimes forget I am not in a central European country but in the Nordics – because the Nordic, impenetrable spruce thickets and lofty halls of pine trees are all missing. Even on Jylland, the coniferous forests consist of trees planted in rows. But that is okay, because the parklands in Denmark are beautiful, especially now.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; November 2020)


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Shinrin-yoku, every day

shinrin-yoku-3Shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, every day. The Japanese prefer slow mindful sauntering instead of aerobic hiking. As a form of nature therapy, shinrin-yoku means not only crossing through a wood, but bathing in it: letting it fill one’s lungs, ears, nose, and eyes. It means not talking or listening to music, but listening to the birds, the grasshoppers, and the wind in the trees. And it means wandering off the path to caress the warm, dry bark of a tree, just because it feels like the best thing to do at the moment.shinrin-yoku-1That is why forest-bathing is best done alone. And while I like to alternate between running and walking through the forests in Loviisa, I still do it every day. And I come out from the forest feeling very centered and alive.
shinrin-yoku-2(Loviisa and Kotka, Finland; June 2020)


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Corona-walks in Copenhagen

cph-april-3Partial lockdown started March 11th. All schools, kindergartens, and universities moved to virtual classes. Most shops and services closed, including all body-working services such as hair salons, masseuses, and fitness centers. My work continued as before, with the difference that I could no longer travel to Belgium to our regional headquarters, or do all the cross-European country local board meetings I had planned. cph-april-4Instead I squeezed in daily walks or runs, just to get outside. When lockdown was imposed, the sun came out. It shone from a cloudless sky most of two months. Weekend walks turned into long ambles, thirstily seeking fringes of green across the sprawling city center. Copenhagen parks are not natural oases to get lost in. But they are reviving, and after a dark cold winter, really any trees and green grass are reviving.cph-april-6(Copenhagen, Denmark; April 2020)


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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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The last weekend of the summer

Mon-2The sunlight still brightened the beach sand to a brilliant white, even if it was the last weekend of September. For many hours during those three days, I sat on the cool sand watching the little swirls of water rolling in, perhaps all the way from German shores. Mon-4We were just seven women on this private weekend retreat, of many ages and cultures. The old white-washed farmhouse on the countryside of Møn island filled with moments of laughter, moments of silence, and the scent of delicious vegetarian food. Mornings were for yoga and reflection, afternoons for silent meditation and skinny dipping, and evenings for dining, sauna, and sharing.

It was as if the unusually long Danish summer ended that Sunday, when we locked the doors and began the drive back up South.Mon-1(Island of Møn, Denmark; September 2019)


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In the Sil river canyon

galicia-2Deep in Galicia, the river Sil squiggles through a canyon with walls up to 500 meters high. Somehow the Roman settlers discovered that the steep canyon walls produced excellent wine, as long as one had the energy and perseverance to maintain the vine plants required. galicia-6It seems that not only winemakers liked the Cañon del Sil, as there are a number of hermitage monasteries scattered along both riverbanks. galicia-7Oaks, chestnuts, ferns, and even Galician pine make the Sil river canyon lush surroundings for hiking – as long as one can keep up with the changes in altitude.galicia-8Along the cliff edge there is also a viewpoint curiously named Balcones de Madrid, even if one cannot see Madrid from it. With a little help from Google I pulled up stories about women choosing the viewpoint to see off their trader husbands traveling to Madrid: they had to climb down the canyon on one side, cross the river by boat, and climb up on the other side. Although whether it were the women or the men who built the laid rock walls still remains a mystery to me.galicia-9(Galicia, Spain; September 2019)


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In the enchanted forest

galicia-1Hiking in Galicia feels a little like what I presume hiking in Middle Earth (or of course New Zealand) would be. Lush, green forests, small streams, rounded boulders, and mountains everywhere.galicia-12It is as if one could expect the head of a little gnome peeking from behind the rocks lining the path. galicia-13Alas, the only unusual thing we saw today was a flower growing right out of the ground. Without stem or leaves. As if the ground itself were in bloom.
galicia-14(Galicia, Spain; September 2019)