This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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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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Sauna squeeze

Mon-6One late September night seven women squeezed into the oddest little sauna I have ever seen. There was sweat, steam, the fresh scent of birch twigs, and laughter. And there was nearly no light as candles would melt in the heat of the stove. Also, oddly, there was no water except for what was carried in in a bucket. Anyone wishing to wash themselves needed to do so outside, under the garden shower, in the moonlight (or in the main house bathroom).

I have understood these “sauna barrels” are all the rage in Denmark. And quite far removed from the Finnish purpose of sauna: a warm place to wash and scrub oneself as clean as possible. Furthermore, the Danes are currently much into “saunagus”: a scheduled program run by a sauna master in a public sauna or during a private event. This usually entails aromatherapy oils, steam, ice buckets, and potentially a relaxation or meditation exercise while people sit or lie down on the benches in the heat. Oddly for a Finn, the sauna master can also turn out to be a magician dressed in black-tie (how sweaty!) or a stand-up comedian. And if nothing else, he or she is expected to at least be able to spin towels in the air in a fancy way. All this is also quite far removed from the Finnish spartan sauna tradition, where not many words are spoken and certainly no tricks are performed as the sauna is a serious place for quiet and contemplation.

That late September night, seven women crammed into the sauna barrel. It was so dark we could not read the labels of the aromatherapy oils, so each scoopful of scented water turning into steam on the hot rocks was a surprise: mint, ylang-ylang, lemongrass, or something else? And there was much chatter and laughter, more than I am used to. Such joy took much space during that weekend, among new-found friends.Mon-5(Island of Møn, Denmark; September 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 Malmö

MalmoWakeup at 4.15 am in Denmark, nine hours of nonstop meetings in six languages, and on the way to the hotel the Swedish taxi driver was playing Finnish schlager artist Pate Mustajärvi at maximum volume (?!). It has been a looooong day, and it ain’t over yet.

(Malmö, Sweden; September 2019)