Tag Archives: garden

Moving out

14 Jun

ThermometerSummer is officially here. There are some obvious signs: I’ve heard the cuckoo, seen swallows, and the Danes have moved their garden furniture outside. My husband and I are not unique in that throughout the summer we literally move outside, and the garden becomes our living room. Having grown up in a country where this can only be a fantasy on 362 out of 365 days of the year, spending an entire summer living outside in the fresh air with the sun on your skin is utterly delicious. These long summer evenings of sitting in the garden with my favourite people, talking about everything and nothing as night gently falls in the background, are my definition of paradise.

Evening drinkIt’s particularly at this time of year that I have no regrets about ending the chapter of my former career as a classical musician. Instead of all those hours spent inside practising, rehearsing and performing, I can work outside in peace and quiet, disturbing nobody, with incidental music provided by the birds all day long.

Outside office 2

In Denmark the shift from indoor- to outdoor-living begins in May, and this time of year is peppered with one-day holidays. The original significance of these various holidays seems to have decreased over time, and these days they’re just a very good excuse to gather in parks, drink beer with friends and family, and generally enjoy the sunshine and good atmosphere.

People in Park

Also making an appearance at this time of year are all the baby animals. I particularly love the ducklings which are in abundance all along the river, and I often stop my bike just to sit and watch them for a while. I was brought up with Hans Christian Andersen stories, and it’s not difficult to see where he got the inspiration to write The Ugly Duckling.

Ducklings

The long days and uninterrupted sunshine are a much anticipated contrast to the darkness of winter’s extended incarceration. I’ve finally emerged from my cocoon of down-filled coats and snow boots, and it’s warm enough once again go about in floaty summer dresses and sandals – I can even leave the house with no jacket! The weather forecast is promising many more days of high temperatures and no rain, so if anyone needs me I’ll be in the garden, somewhere between the butterflies and the stars.

Butterfly & Lavender

Udflytningen

Sommeren er officielt kommet. Der er nogle tydelige tegn: Jeg har hørt gøgen, set svalerne, og danskerne har flyttet deres havemøbler udenfor. Min mand og jeg står ikke alene med, hvordan vi i løbet af sommeren flytter ud, og haven bliver vores stue. Fordi jeg voksede op i et land, hvor det kun kan være en fantasi i 362 ud af 365 dage om året, at tilbringe en hel sommer udenfor i frisk luft med solskin på huden, er det aldeles lifligt. Disse lange sommeraftener, når man sidder i haven sammen med ens yndlingsmennesker og snakker om alt mellem himmel og jord, mens natten falder på i baggrunden, er min definition af paradis.

Det er især på denne tid af året, at jeg ikke fortryder, at jeg afsluttede kapitlet i mit liv som klassisk musiker. I stedet for alle de timer, jeg tilbragte indenfor på at øve mig, at prøve sammen med andre og at optræde, kan jeg nu arbejde udenfor i fred og ro uden at forstyrre nogen som helst. Der er også den ekstra fordel, at fuglene sørger for baggrundsmusik hele dagen.

Outside office 1

I Danmark begynder ændringen fra indendørs- til udendørslivet i maj måned, og omkring dette tidspunkt er der mange éndagsferier. Den oprindelige betydning af de forskellige feriedage er aftaget i tidens løb, og i dag er det bare en god undskyldning for at samles i parkene, drikke øl med venner og familie, og generelt at nyde solskinnet og den gode stemning.

Sleeping Man

Det er også på denne tid af året, at alle dyrbørnene dukker op. Jeg elsker især ællingerne, som er til overflod langs åen, og jeg stopper tit op for at sidde og betragte dem i et stykke tid. Jeg voksede op med H.C. Andersens eventyr, og det er ikke svært at se, hvorfra han fik inspirationen til at skrive Den grimme ælling.

Swans

De lange dage og det uforstyrrede solskin står i meget tydelig modsætning til vinterens lange indespærring. Jeg er endelig kommet til syne fra mit beskyttende dække af dunfyldte jakker og vinterstøvler, og der er igen varmt nok udenfor til at tage sommerkjolerne og sandalerne på. Jeg kan endda forlade huset uden jakke! Vejrudsigten lover mange flere dage med høje temperaturer og ingen regn, så hvis der er nogen, der har brug for mig, kan jeg findes i haven et eller andet sted mellem sommerfuglene og stjernerne.

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Blossoming

22 May

Pink RhoddyOur garden is in full bloom, and I’m talking FULL bloom! It seems that every flower-bearing plant has fully recovered from the extreme pruning I subjected it to 2 years ago. Every morning I take a walk round to see which flowers have appeared since the day before, and there is always something new. I can’t begin to describe the joy it gives me to finally have a garden that is not only fairly tidy and mostly under control but also full of colour and humming with the sound of bumble bees. Even the designated ‘wilderness area’ is looking fantastic!

Forget me notsI’ll admit that it has been a long struggle and in the beginning my work was mostly cutting back and removing things in a seemingly futile attempt at restoring order, and at times I doubted it would ever recover. Happily, the (rather late!) arrival of spring has brought with it a return to what I imagine is close to the former glory of our lovely garden, but this time with a few additions bearing my own stamp.

Sunshine tulips2The bursting into life of the garden coincides with a bit of a turn of events in my own life, and I view the garden as a rather vivid metaphor for my own state of mind since moving to Denmark.

Cherry & White RhoddyI’ve been living here for nearly 2 ½ years now, and in that time it has felt like I’ve had to fight for each step I’ve taken. At first every single thing was difficult. I felt like I had been stripped of my identity and had to start all over again in every aspect of my life. It was exhausting. Even something as simple as posting a letter seemed like an insurmountable task. In such circumstances one is forced to adopt a certain mindset, and for me it was about mental survival on a day to day basis if only to keep from having some kind of breakdown. From the beginning I was convinced that the key to really having a life here was to learn the language. Thoroughly.

White tulipBeing a hard-working sort, I’ve kept my head down and given it all I’ve got in my attempts to learn the language, and for a long time I felt that I wasn’t getting anywhere. Anyone who’s tried to learn Danish will understand how frustrating it is, when for many aspects of the language there are no rules, and many things you just have to learn. But slowly, slowly it has been filtering in, and somehow I now have no problem watching Swedish crime series with Danish subtitles or attending lectures (in Danish) about the Danish welfare system.

White blossomThe change occurred so gradually and so slowly that I hadn’t even noticed. It was only on a recent visit to Glasgow that my world was turned upside down and the realisation hit me: my home is in Denmark. Walking the streets of Glasgow city centre, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I don’t belong there any more and on an evening out with some very lovely people I knew before, I spent the whole night feeling like I was in a bubble. I faced the often asked question, “How’s it going in Denmark?” In the interests of not boring folk, I distilled the biggest and most challenging event of my life into a single sentence: “It’s going great!” While this is true, it doesn’t completely cover it.

Sunshine tulipsBut my return to Denmark really was a home-coming. After a weekend of speaking English, I slipped back into Danish like pulling on an old pair of jeans: familiar and comfortable. On making my way back to Odense from the airport I had literally just got off the train when I bumped into a friend. For me, there’s nothing like coincidentally meeting a familiar face to make me feel I have roots in a place. But the icing on the cake was when I arrived at my in-laws’ place for lunch: A Danish flag stood outside the froont door welcoming me home, and my normally slightly reserved father-in-law greeted me with a big hug.

Red tulip blurLater that evening, when I got back to my garden it had transformed into the heady display of colour and perfume that is still going strong right now.

HawthornLike the plants in our garden, the outer foliage of my previous life has been stripped back to a degree which, although seemingly drastic at the time, was necessary and has ultimately been a good thing. It was tough, but I’m now buzzing with renewed vigour and lust for life. If my garden is a reflection of myself, then the future is looking pretty damned fine!

Tulips etc

Blomstrende

Vores have står i fuldt flor, og jeg mener FULDT flor! Det ser ud, som om, hver plante, der har mulighed for det, har blomster på. Den er fuldstændig kommet sig efter den voldsomme beskæring, jeg udsatte den for for to år siden. Hver morgen går jeg en lille tur rundt for at se, hvilke nye blomster der er dukket op siden den foregående dag, og der er altid noget nyt. Jeg kan ikke beskrive glæden, det giver mig, endelig at have en have, som ikke kun er nogenlunde ordentlig og for det meste under kontrol, men også er fuld af farve og vrimler med lyden af humlebier. Selv det udpegede ‘vildnis-område’ ser fantastisk ud!

WildernessJeg må indrømme, at det har været en lang kamp, og i begyndelsen bestod mit arbejde mest i at skære tilbage og fjerne ting i et tilsyneladende forgæves forsøg på at skabe orden, og nogle gange tvivlede jeg på, om det nogensinde ville komme igen. Heldigvis har den (lidt forsinkede!) ankomst af foråret bragt med sig en tilbagevenden til, hvad, jeg forestiller mig, ligger tæt på vores dejlige haves tidligere pragt. Denne gang med nogle få tilføjelser, der bærer mit eget fingeraftryk.

Yellow tulips2At livet i haven genopstår, falder sammen med et lille stykke af en forandring i mit liv, og jeg betragter haven, som en ganske livagtig metafor på min egen sindsstemning, siden jeg flyttede til Danmark.

Jeg har boet her i næsten 2 1/2 år, og i løbet af den tid har det føltes, som om, jeg har været nødt til at kæmpe for hver skridt, jeg har taget. Til at begynde med var hver eneste ting svær. Jeg følte det, som om jeg havde haft krænget min identitet af og skulle begynde helt forfra igen på enhver side af mit liv. Det var besværligt. Selv noget så enkelt som at sende et brev forekom mig at være en uoverstigelig opgave. Under disse omstændigheder er man tvunget til at tilegne sig en bestemt tænkemåde, og for mig handlede det om mental overlevelse fra dag til dag, om ikke andet så for at undgå en slags sammenbrud. Fra begyndelsen var jeg overbevist om, at nøglen til virkelig at få en tilværelse her var at lære sproget – til bunds.

White rhoddiesSom en, der arbejder hårdt, gjorde jeg mig umage og gav den fuld gas i forsøget på at lære sproget, og i lang tid følte jeg, at jeg ikke kom ud af stedet. Enhver, som har prøvet at lære dansk, vil kunne forstå, hvor frustrerende det er, når der på mange områder af sproget ikke er regler, og der er mange ting, man bare skal lære. Men ganske langsomt er det sevet ind, og på en eller anden måde har jeg ingen problemer med at se svenske krimier med danske undertekster eller at følge med i foredrag (på dansk) om det danske velfærdssystem.

PosyÆndringen indtraf så gradvis og så langsomt, så jeg lagde slet ikke mærke til det. Det var blot under et besøg til Glasgow for nylig, at min verden blev vendt på hovedet, og erkendelsen slog mig: Mit hjem er i Danmark. Mens jeg gik gennem gadene i Glasgows centrum, kunne jeg ikke ryste den fornemmelse af mig, at jeg ikke hører til der længere. En aften, da jeg var i byen med nogle dejlige mennesker, som jeg kendte i forvejen, tilbragte jeg hele aftenen med en følelse af at være i en boble. Jeg blev mødt med det ofte stillede spørgsmål: “Hvordan går det i Danmark?” Da jeg ikke ville kede folk, sammentrængte jeg den største og mest udfordrende begivenhed i mit liv til en enkelt sætning: “Det går fint!” Skønt dette er sandt, dækker det det ikke rigtigt.

Pink Rhoddy bushMen at rejse tilbage til Danmark var virkelig en hjemkomst. Efter en weekend, da jeg havde talt engelsk, smuttede jeg nemt tilbage til dansk. Det var lige som at tage et par gamle jeans på: fortroligt og behageligt. Som en del af rejsen tilbage til Odense fra lufthavnen var jeg bogstavelig talt netop stået af toget, da jeg stødte ind i en veninde. For mig er der ingenting som tilfældigvis at møde et kendt ansigt, der får mig til at føle, at her har jeg rod. Men toppen af kransekagen var, da jeg ankom til mine svigerforældre til frokost: Et dansk flag stod uden for hoveddøren og bød mig velkommen hjem, og min almindeligvis lettere reserverede svigerfar hilste mig med et stort kram.

Magnolia TreeSenere samme aften, da jeg kom tilbage til min have, havde den ændret sig til en berusende opvisning af farve og duft, som er fortsat indtil nu.

Grape hyacinthLige som planterne i vores have er dækbladene fra mit tildigere liv krænget tilbage i et omfang, som, selv om det føltes drastisk på det tidspunkt, var nødvendigt og i sidste ende har været en god ting. Det var hårdt, men nu summer jeg med fornyet kraft og appetit på livet. Hvis min have er et spejlbillede af mig selv, så ser fremtiden skidegodt ud!

Apple Tree

Summer Blues – and other colours!

20 Jul

I have  just returned  from a family holiday to Scotland where, after the first few days of rain (fortunately I had issued strict orders for all family members to pack their regntøj), the sun came out and was in fact extremely pleasant.

Since our return to Denmark on Tuesday, however, the weather has been somewhat ‘soupy’. Now, some people might complain about the rain showers/downpours and breezy intervals which have pervaded, but I find it rather appropriate as I am currently suffering from the summer sniffles/attack of the green gunk and, quite frankly, being ill when it’s brilliant sunshine outside is rubbish.

One of the good things about lying on the couch all day is that I get a really good view of the garden. At the moment everything is in full bloom and in between rain showers I nipped out with my camera so you could have a look, too.

Some parts of the garden are still a little bit  shall we say ‘nature reserve’-ish but this doesn’t appear to be a bad thing, judging by the quantity and variety of insects paying a visit.

I’m looking forward to being out and about again (and writing in Danish!), but in the meantime I’ll just enjoy looking at the flowers.

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