This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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In spring

springflowersIt was a gray day for a walk, in mid-March, one of the last days before restaurants were closed for sit-down meals. But it was spring. And outside of the northernmost parts of the world, spring is a real, long season: months of slowly increasing fresh green and seas of flower colors and birds going crazy in the sunlight.

It was not until I moved to Cambridge that I really paid attention to the length of spring, and how lovely it was. Even in the southernmost parts of Finland, spring (usually still) means snow cover into March, sporadic snow showers throughout April, a few first timid spring flowers in late April and early May – and then an explosion of green during a few weeks, when everything transforms from dead into full-blown summer in June. The summer warmth sneaks in slowly and often midsummer, in the third week of June, is cold even in the South.

Here in Denmark there is none of such fickle nonsense. The days are constantly warmer, sunnier, and longer. Spring slowly stretches its limbs and warms itself in the sun for a few months, and the season can truly be felt and enjoyed. Without snow storms.

(Copenhagen, March 2020)

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Around the lakes

lakes-1A rare moment on the lakes: no people. Because it was freaking cold and windy (and beautifully sunny). The Copenhagen lakes have been all over national media these days, as this is where people crowd for walks when the weather is good. As of yesterday, they have signposted one enforced direction of movement: around the clock. Guards in yellow vest maintain the order. And if you gather in groups of 10 or more people, even if nobody knows each other, everybody will be fined.

Why am I among the throngs of city people nearly every day? Because the lakes are just outside of my doorstep and I need a daily dose of sunlight, fresh air, and movement. I hope we all can take the recommendations to heart and follow them to the dot, otherwise we might discover that running in spring sunlight is a liberty lost.lakes-2(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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Earlier this week the Danish government shut bars, clubs, sports centers, and shopping centers. Restaurants and cafés are open – for takeaway only. But two weeks ago I still had a Michelin-recommended sandwich lunch at Aamanns. Sild on rugbrød, i.e. pickled herring on wholemeal rye bread.

And the sun was shining, and the water birds were loudly sorting out spring rivalries on the lakes. It could be worse still. It will probably get worse still.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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Hello Finland

Loviisa-6Despite the business travel ban of my employer, I still managed to squeeze in one trip home to Finland in early March – before Denmark closed its borders. The timing was perfect, and so was the weather. Spring was in full swing, while normally early March means snow cover and alternating melt and blizzard days.

Fingers crossed I can go back for Easter and still return to Denmark afterwards. Finding small green leaves in the trees with Easter would be quite something. Loviisa-3(Loviisa, Finland; March 2020)

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Interlude: in the sudden stillness

Plant-1Now is the time for introspection and silence. For long runs, walks, yoga, and meditation. There is no reason to get to bed late. There is all the reason to focus on thinking, writing, studying, and planning the future.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, my company grounded us all from work travels in the first days of March. One week later most of Europe were told to work from home offices and all face-to-face work-related meetings were forbidden, except for those of clear business-critical nature, for the continuity of the business. I heard we have donated millions of surgical masks and other supplies. Turns out we also started manufacturing hand sanitizer internally so offices and sites could remain open for those who had to come in.

My project is delayed. Meetings are canceled because of children at home and offices evacuated on the spot after somebody tested positive for covid-19. With the excess time I turn to my studies, and to some reading. And to walking around the lakes. Somehow there is still so much to do before 10 pm, every day.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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Ramen? Yes please

RamenBriefly in Helsinki and a ramen lunch at the original Momo Toko near the University main building is a must. This is where I fed my belly and soul between running Saturday errands in town. Alternatively it was a Vietnamese pho joint – but quite often here in this hot, busy little ramen joint usually crowded with Asians.

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2020)

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New views

CPH-4After one week’s intensive writing, spiced up by a proper common cold, I extracted myself from my quarters long enough to go for a walk. Without the ultimate purpose of either obtaining groceries or visiting an apartment up for rent, which had been my only outdoors activities in Copenhagen sofar.

What luxury. Even if the Nordhavn quays were windy. And so I followed my sister’s advice and continued the luxury with an insanely expensive lunch high in restaurant Silo. Up here above the harbor I found business people having open sandwiches and aquavit for lunch, on a working day. Well then, I enjoyed two glasses of Provence rosé and the tales of Mary Kingsley in West Africa. Why not, on a Thursday?

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)