With winter coming to a close, I wanted to herald the arrival of spring with the second part of my photo journey in Norway. During these difficult times, humanity and life, as we know, might change forever. However, our planet, our beautiful Earth is still spinning around its axes, and the immediate life around us is still going about its business. The birds are out singing, the red barons, our two Cardinals are busy preparing for a new flock for summer, a sure sign of spring, and the daffodils and crocuses are starting to bloom. Spring is unstoppable, even with a bit of spring snow on the ground. There is life all around us that we can take joy from, and remind us there will be better days ahead.
The following photographs depict so many of the little things that I love from back home, and together, they are the essence of how I experience Norway in the summertime. The word that comes to mind is “hyggelig. It is the embodiment of contentment, comfort, and the feeling of connection. “Hyggelig” has undoubtedly taken on a life of its own through the many lifestyle blogs and recent book publishing’s on the subject. Mind-blowing really that books can be written on the subject of “hyggelig” and with stereotype images of Scandinavian homes and cabins filled with candlelit rooms and wood fires burning. It certainly is a big part of how we do cozy during our long dark winters, but it is about the state of one’s mind, and contentment in a given situation, or moment, or your Zen if you will during any season! I believe all cultures have something similar that instills the same kind of comfort and coziness. Candlelit rooms are just one of many things that inspire the sense of “hygge.” The word is a collective representation of how Scandinavians feel in those moments that comes from years of memories with family and friends. Our connection to one another. It is a commonality we share in a country that is still reasonably hegemonic with deep-rooted traditions and the sharing of similar minds. I don’t think it is something that can be genuinely copied or fully understood without growing up there. Summer is an entirely different time of magic in Norway with long light days that brings many beautiful “hyggelig” moments.
My first part of this photostory focused on photographs centered on the majestic mountains of Jotunheimen. The second part shows the more immediate sweet days pf summers. Berry picking, and especially raspberries and blueberries intermingled with lingonberries, are ever-present, and if you trek further afield to the moors, cloudberries! Berry picking has a long tradition in Norway. It is common to have a variety of berry bushes in the garden, and I remember countless treks out into the woods equipped with buckets to fill, or in the case of a child eaten on the spot with faces and clothes smeared with its juice. I also remember annoying socks that would continuously slide down in my rubber boots and the thorns of the raspberry bushes, always making it tricky for small and not so nimble hands to pick. Now, I am passing some of those traditions on to my son. He is already associating summer in Norway with blueberries and loads of wild raspberries that he picks on the go every day wherever he can find them.
Another traditional past time in Norway that I enjoy is whittling. I remember my grandfather making us flutes out of goat willow. He was great with his hands and turned wood into lamp posts and furniture, among others. Children in Norway learn to handle a whittling or Norwegian scout knife at an early age. We made a bow and arrows that we brought back to New York for further play. I even used the bow in a family photoshoot! Safety is always part of the learning, though.
A somewhat goofy perhaps, and very peculiar Scandinavian tradition, is the reading of Donald Duck! Reading Donald has been popular for as long as I can remember. All grocery stores have a section on their wall filled with magazines and comics. There are at least three different types of Donald stories to be bought, and one is a weekly publication. In most households, you can find a stack of them, new and old ones dating from the 1980s, and earlier. It is for sure a Norwegian past time in which adults and children alike enjoy.
Norwegian pancakes and waffles are a staple of Norwegian summer memories for us. They are quite different from American pancakes. They are not leavened, and they are more of a cross between a French crepe and a thin omelet. They are served for dinner or as a dessert, but not for breakfast. My mother is a master pancake maker, and my son always looks forward to her pancakes. Growing up, we had pancakes weekly for dinner – a widespread tradition! Scandinavian waffles are likewise popular with Norwegians. Most cafes and bakeries serve them. Freshly made sour cream waffles with newly picked strawberry jam served in the garden on a beautiful summer day is the essence of summer!
We all carry sweet memories of past summers regardless of where we live. Another is soon upon us, and although we may not be able to travel home to the family this year under these uncertain times, I carry them in my heart as we continue to grow our memories in the Hudson Valley. These memories continue to grow every year, holding us earth bond to this place I now call home.
I used my Fujifilm X-T3 and a Fujinon35mm lens on most of these photographs, but I also used a Pentax SLR and a Lumix 3/4 mirrorless camera.
Thank you for looking!