This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Ghosts in the window

uusikaupunki-1Who is the turn-of-the-century couple peeking out through the window? And why is the street sign first in Russian and only then in Finnish and finally in Swedish? Uusikaupunki is filled with old wooden houses containing many mysteries. And so many stories, if only they could even whisper of half of what they know.

By the waterfront there is a house filled with the delicious, huge, Nordic kind of sugar donuts. As it is a guest harbor, some come from far to have one. When I was a child, this town is where summer began (and ended).uusikaupunki-2(Uusikaupunki, Finland; 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)


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Above white Greenland

greenland-3The current sea level is 8.5 cm higher than it was in 1993. That change is only in 15 years – and there is evidence of a steady increase since the dawn of the industrial era in the late 1800s. 8.5 cm does not seem a lot, but think about how long it takes to just fill a a bathtub from the faucet. Now imagine how much more water must have been dumped into all vast oceans on our planet to cause such an increase.

Looking out over Greenland through the airplane window it is easy to be fooled by all the vast expanses of ice. The problem is exactly that there is so much ice: should all of it melt in a worst-case scenario, our planet will not look the same. Florida and Singapore will be underwater, and so will almost all of Denmark. The Amazon will be an inland sea instead of two major rivers. St Petersburg might still be barely hanging on atop an island. Or not. greenland-1Most likely this scenario will not happen. But who knows if Florida or Singapore will still survive further than a couple of generations? And we humans and our cities is just one single species. The polar bears, the seals, the walruses, and the narwhals are the most obvious species in trouble. But because the ecosystem is a system, who knows what will happen if the currents change and the lowest levels of the food chain (think krill, plankton) disappear, too? No food for small fish means no food for big fish means no food for anything that lives on fish. And no krill for the whales, either.

Greenland was once named so because of the grassy coastline, which was the first thing the visitors saw. If names are omens, Greenland will properly earn its name soon.greenland-2(Above Greenland; May 2018)


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My Stockholm crib

stallisMy favorite crib in Stockholm is Stallmästaregården, an old gasthaus with creaky old wooden floors, the feeling of staying at someone’s private mansion (not a hotel), and the loveliest staff there ever was. I used to stay here every week, and returning after a year felt like taking a warm bath (the food in the excellent -reviewed restaurant helps, too).

(Stockholm, Sweden; April 2018)