Summer Is …

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Although technically speaking we have not reached summer season yet, we have had such gloriously sunny and warm days that it does feel like it. With a 18C water temperature at our local beach and 25C in the air, this is probably as good as it gets!! Then i can confidently say that summer is:

Picking up bouquets of wildflowers ….

Getting ready for wild strawberry season …

Outdoor eating …

and summer is also allergy season …

Show Time!!

May 31, 2013 § 3 Comments

I never would have imagined that passion flowers (passiflora) would grow and bloom in these northern latitudes. Coming from an equatorial land wherein the scorching sun works up the ground for these exuberant creatures, I thought that this fierce warmth was a minimum requirement for their growth. I was wrong.

One day after a trip to the local plant nursery, I came back home with one plant partially convinced by the owner that they could thrive here as well, albeit in a more limited manner. I decided to give it a try knowing how much butterflies love their flowers. After three weeks of skeptical waiting and with day temperatures ranging between 16– 23C, show time finally arrives!!

Is this an amazing capacity for adaptation or gene manipulation? I don´t know and for the time been, I´ll just rejoice in its beauty.

 

The Hope of Spring – Part II

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

As I wrote in an earlier post, in these northern latitudes spring comes late. It starts out very timidly with a few flowers here and there which suddenly start popping up all over when they realize that the warmth is here to stay. Usually there are just anemones, snowdrops and coltsfoot. They are the ones that are strong enough to make it through a slight layer of snow or a chilly night. I like to think of them as the trailblazers.

However, if you go out for a walk in the woods now, just a couple of weeks later, you can´t decide where to focus your view. There is such an explosion of flowers that is difficult to decide which one is prettier. Adorning the trees, on the ground, close to the streams, nature is hurrying to bloom. The anemones, snowdrops and coltsfoot have drown in an emerging sea of blades and grass, and many other flowers are taking their place. In the area where i live, the indisputable queen of the woods is the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Although it has not blossomed yet, leafy stems creating large colonies have conquered the underground forest and very soon we´ll have their precious bells enthralling us with their scent!

Lily of the Valley

 

Black-and-White Photography

May 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

I like black-and-white photos. In many occasions color is too distracting. Yet the absence of color lets you focus in the essentials like shapes, composition, shadows and lights. The interplay between black, grey and white can be as rich and nuanced as you wish. It can bring drama to a scene or it can enhance a sense of serenity.

A black-and-white photo is not one missing color, but one created without color. There are many master photographers that have specialized in monochrome pictures, probable one of the best is Sebastiao Salgado. Although some people have criticized his latest turn to environmental and nature photography after having documented for more than three decades the conflicts and miseries of the world, whatever you think of him take a look at his website for a review of the unlimited possibilities of photography in its monochromatic version.

P.S. I was asked by a friend whether in our lives color is also too distracting, too domineering? Whether the present time is characterized by an ever expanding need to “color” everything and to focus only on rainbows and not appreciate enough the depth provided by just black,white and grey?

 

Temporarily Out of Reach

May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have a friend who took some pictures similar to the ones attached to this post. She then sent them to a friend and was asked whether the pictures were taken in Barbados?? No, this is not a Caribbean hidden gem, but a Norwegian one (Villa Malla, Filtvet). The colors, the sea, the sand, all look perfectly beachy, except that the water temperature at this time of the year is probably around 14C … Oh well, nothing is perfect!

Villa Malla, Filtvet  Filtvet Lighthouse

Bleeding Giants

May 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Every morning I try to go for a walk in a wooded area close to where I live. Some weeks ago  somebody decided to clear parts of the forest and now silent stumps greet me in the first part of the tour. Then, these last days, some of these stumps have started to bleed. I guess that the arrival of spring has sent a message to the roots to start pumping sap to the trunk without realizing that there’s no trunk to send it to … Whatever the biological explanation, it remains an impressive image.

P.S. Thinking about trees, I need to mention how they evoke different types of feelings and attitudes according to were you come from. In other words,  I believe that our view of trees is to a certain degree culturally conditioned. When I was living in Venezuela, and I´m sure that this could be the case in many other countries in the area, trees were understood slightly different from Norway. Apart from the case of the harvesting of forests for the purpose of feeding the furniture, building or cellulose industry, the cutting of trees at an individual level was done for the purposes of: (1) eliminating a tree that was planted perhaps too close to a sidewalk or it was the wrong kind of tree and hence the powerful root growth was lifting the pavement or whatever was close to it, (2) eliminating a tree that was casting too many leaves over a patio, swimming pool, or whatever area that therefore required too often the raking of leaves, (3) perhaps a personal conviction that the tree was ugly or not needed in that particular spot. Yet, in general, I will venture to say that trees are needed and appreciated primarily because the provided a much-needed shadow cover in the heat of the midday.

In Norway I was enormously surprised to discover that trees, again on an individual level, are cut down for very different reasons: (1) because people would like to have more sunshine and a tree casting a shadow on your balcony, garden or patio is not appreciated, (2) because people would like to have more view and sometimes trees can hinder an otherwise panoramic view. Having grown up with an exuberance of sunshine, I certainly love the cool shadow that a tree provides. It takes time to learn differently.

The Hope of Spring

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Spring always comes delayed in the northern latitudes. This year it came even more delayed. As a result, it is just in the last week of April that we have seen the much-longed for appearance of the first wild white and blue anemones and coltsfoot. Nature around you is carefully awakening to the fact that the mantle of snow is over and that the promise of warmth is a reality. The landscape is brownish: the whiteness gone, but the green is yet to come. Then suddenly, very small white, blue and yellow heads start popping up all over. First just one or two, then a few  more and after a couple of sunny days, entire areas are blanketed with these fantastic creatures. They are just beautiful and makes them special is their color contrast against the brown underground of decayed leaves. Want any better sign for new things to come?

Hepatica Nobilis

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Nature at Northern Latitude.