For various reasons my photo blog hasn’t seen much activity lately. At times events, twists and turns sends your life into other directions than the ones you expect. Some for the better, others not. What has brightened my life considerably was the birth of my two grandsons Odin and Thor last summer. Watching these little rascals processing life and all its wonders gives me such joy. Needless to say the memory cards glow hot when I’m around them. Here’s just a few snaps taken by a very proud grandfather.
For those of you who read Norwegian Charlotte has a very good blog where she writes about being a parent of twins:
An absolutely stunning summer day here in south-eastern Norway. After a long cold winter it looks like we’ll strike lucky with the July weather here in this sub-arctic corner of he world. Elsie and I took a hike in Kjekstadmarka this morning, a forest some kilometers south from where we live.
This is the time of year when different fruits and berries start to ripen here in the north. A quite common plant in our forests is the the bilberry bush. In Norwegian we call it blåbær which means “blue berry”, but it should not be confused with the American blueberry. The European bilberry is the predecessor of its American relative and differs in that it has dark red flesh, stronger taste and grows in the wild on low bushes. The American blueberry has light or white flesh and lighter taste, grows on larger bushes and is more commonly cultivated commercially.
But the real excitement for a typical Norwegian fruit-lover starts when you come upon one of the bogs that have just the right conditions. I have loved the peaty smells of bogs since early childhood (no wonder I also love a good smokey single-malt ;-)) and in the right time of the year you can be lucky and find the berries that grow here; the cloudberry (No: multe).
The cloudberry grows only in the far northern hemisphere; the Nordic and Baltic countries, Russia, Canada and USA. Some are also found in the high Alpes and Scottish highlands. It grows in bogs and marshes, requires acidic ground and exposure to much sunshine. The plant is a true northerner, it can easily survive winters of 40 – 50° C below zero.
It is regarded as a delicacy, particularly here in Norway, and demand is always higher than supply. There is not much commercial cultivation so most of what we eat come from the wild. It is very rich in vitamin C and the Nordic seafarers and the Inuits have always treasured it.
In Norway we commonly make jam from it, or mix it with whipped cream and sugar and serve it as multekrem. The Finns love it so much they put it on one of their coins, but for some reason they overlook the jam and dessert possibilities and prefer to make Lakkalikööri (liqueur) from it.
Let me bring you songs from the wood: to make you feel much better than you could know. Dust you down from tip to toe. Show you how the garden grows. Hold you steady as you go. Join the chorus if you can: it’ll make of you an honest man.
Finally my summer vacation and three whole weeks that I want to use to its fullest; get up in the mornings, grab my gear and get out and get some fresh air and hopefully some decent photos. So far so good. Eight days passed with the clock set at 6 in the morning. That didn’t use to be my idea of a holiday, but it actually feels very good. Elsie and I have managed to travel around in our local area every day, to some places that were familiar to us and to some new places as well…
Semsvannet is a lovely lake that we have visited several times lately. This first day we had a very enjoyable stroll in the morning sun and finished it with ice-cream and waffles at the nice café Smia.
The second morning we took a hike up along the Lomma river that goes up through the valley Lommedalen in northern Bærum.
The next morning we decided to check out a nearby lake we haven’t been to before. It is called Ståvivann and is situated in an area with a few farms around. We found this beautiful old ash-tree on our trip. The ash (ask in Norwegian) is what has given the name to the Asker district.
Onwards and up. This steep path leads up to Bergsåsen which is the highest hill-top in Asker (459 m / 1500 ft). The blue marking on the tree is the what the Norwegian Tourist Bureau (DNT) uses to mark its summer routes all over the country.
The view from up here is beautiful and well worth the hike.
The view from the nearby Hagahogget. The closest lake is Semsvannet with Skaugumsåsen just behind. Further out we see the Oslo Fjord that leads into the Norwegian capital.
The fifth morning we wanted to do some bird-watching, and went to Oslo and the lake Østensjøvannet again:
June is the month for bird-watching I’m told. But what we see now in July is all the chicks taking their first trips out from the nest. Charming creatures.
But I guess handling 19 of them must be a mouthful. The tufted duck can lay up to 12 eggs, so I wonder how this poor mother got herself into this situation.
Mmmm, yes I splashed the cash for a new Canon EF 400 5.6L and BIF (Birds In Flight) photography have suddenly become much more enjoyable 🙂
The sixth morning saw us passing by Semsvannet again. This time we took a longer hike up in the woods to north of the lake.
One thing I love about the woods is how all the natural shapes evokes the fantasy. Rocks, trees, moss, anything can conjure up images of the mythological beasts we know from the old fairy tales.
Our hike took us up to a beautiful place called Fløyta.
A bit stiff-legged from the previous day’s hike we decided to take an easy morning stroll around Kalvøya island just outside the city Sandvika where we live.
Some peaceful plant- and bird-watching at Kalvøya this morning. Well rested we went for a long hike on the eighth day:
After a long trek around Brunkollen and Haslumseter we came down to Øyervann lake which used to be much bigger when it was dammed up a few hundered years ago. This was an area where iron-ore used to be mined in the old days.
We finally came back to Burudvann where we started our hike this morning. Like the guys in Tour de France we have decided to take a rest tomorrow. 😉
We do complain a lot about the weather here in Norway, but I suspect people do that everywhere. But fact is, there’s nowhere else I rather be in the summer when the temperature rises up to a bearable level and the sun graces us with a few rays. All those long freezing winter months make me appreciate the fragile beauty of the sub-arctic summer. Here’s some landscape shots that I’ve taken in my local area during the last few weeks.
In the area around Asker church there has been found 10 different locations with iron age (500 BC – 800 AD) burial mounds. There is a myth about a treasure being buried in one of these. It has been told that when a priest started excavations in order to find it (sometime in the 1830’s) a strange light phenomenon was seen over the church. The excavation was stopped and the dead were left in peace.
In the Norwegian summer it never gets really dark during the night. Further up north in the country the sun even stays up over the horizon all night. I was there some years ago and I remember going out for a picnic at 2 am in the night. A strange experience I can tell you.
Semsvannet is a lake in Asker that is popular because of its natural beauty and the rich cultural history of the area around it. The landscape is protected. It has been found 420 different plant species around the lake.
Finally a view from Kolsåstoppen (Mount Kolsås) where Elsie and I hiked up yesterday. This shot has been taken from the same mountain that can be seen in the night picture from my kitchen window.
Østensjøvannet is a small lake situated close to central Oslo. It has rich wetland vegetation and is a well-known place for city dwellers who appreciate serious bird-watching.
The Great Crested Grebe (no:toppdykker) is the poster-boy and the icon bird of Østensjøvannet.
“Friends of Østensjøvannet” (web pages in Norwegian only) is a support group dedicated to the protection of the lake. There is a lot people visiting the place every day and in order to give the birds some peace and quiet they will move the walking paths a bit away from the lakeside and put up these watching stations in stead.
Black-headed Gull (no:hettemåke) building a nest.
The Bar-headed Goose (no: stripegås) is a rare visitor. Very few of these birds reside in Norway. Seeing one of these is what makes Østensjøvannet such a special place.
…which of course I wouldn’t know jack shit about if it weren’t for my dear Elsie who patiently tries to teach me the basics about different kinds of birds 🙂
Yesterday we managed to get there before sunrise which means close to midnight this time of the year in southern Norway.
Most birds, like these Canada geese (no: kanadagås) are early risers as well.
Not a very popular bird among many people, the Canada Goose. It was imported some years ago and have taken over the natural habitat from other birds. And they shit all over our beaches. Hey, but the kids are still cute.
Another common fellow here is the Graylag Goose (no: grågås). Here seen during morning rush-hour.
Eurasian Coot (no: sothøne) and Tufted Duck (no: toppand) (picture below) from pictures I took here last week.
Birds in flight (BIF) photography is very challenging and fun. Makes me strongly considering blowing some cash on one of these babies:
Ah well, they look good good on the ground/water as well, the birds do. Anyway, getting up early in the morning is a strange and stimulating exercise. Since we don’t have a dog our cameras will have to do. They need to stretch their legs (or something) and our duty as proud owners is to follow them around 🙂
The summer’s finally come here in the north, but the weather is a bit shifty. I don’t mind, it makes for some interesting cloud formations, and lovely light in the evenings. Here’s a sample of shots I’ve taken these last few days.
As a geeky side-note; all three of my cameras have been used for these five shots 😉