Tag Archives: winter

Seasonal Adjustment

9 Feb

Foyer sduMy second semester at the University of Southern Denmark is underway, and its beginning happened to coincide with the arrival and subsequent hasty departure of the Danish winter.

Frost treeAs something of a contrast to the otherwise idyllic lifestyle I enjoy in Denmark, my timetable begins on a Monday morning at 8am with six straight hours of lectures followed by a one hour cycle home. Most of my lectures take place in dingy classrooms with no windows, so I always feel a little bit mole-like when I emerge blinking into the daylight afterwards.

Grammar Although the long days leave me mentally drained, the cycle home always re-invigorates me, regardless of the weather. My journey home last Monday was particularly invigorating, as heavily falling snow lashed by a relentless north wind resulted in treacherous conditions, blotting out the frozen muddy ruts of the path underneath. It was anyone’s guess where the path actually was…Path4Fortunately, parts of the cycle path are on paved roads which, thanks to Danish tax-payers, are cleared regularly and efficiently.

Path2 My trusty bicycle and I are quite robust, though, and up to to coping with most types of terrain, although I did need to de-ice the old girl once I got home.

BikeHappily, the wintry conditions departed almost as soon as they had arrived, and over the weekend all the snow melted and today’s journey home was a different story altogether.

Path1 meltedHints of spring are suddenly in the air and the days somehow seem at once to be longer. It’s almost as if winter didn’t exist and I’m already counting down to summer…

crocus

Advertisements

Sunshine and Shooting Stars

28 Jan

SnowdropJanuary is a dreary month, with the sparkle of Christmas a distant memory and only the continuing dreariness of February to look forward to. Forgive me, but I’m suffering from seasonal lack-of-adjustment disorder: I want it to be spring! As early as the 8th of January there was some evidence of the much wished for change in season, snowdrops and erantis were well under way in our garden and the blackbirds were having some territorial disputes – a sure sign of spring, but so far it hasn’t come to much.

HouseLysthusThe month started brightly enough, with a backdrop of  blue skies and sunshine for a girls’ day out to the beautiful harbour town of Kerteminde, situated on the north east coast of Fyn, and home to the Johannes Larsen Museum.

Main hall use this one I’m beginning to get quite a taste for Danish art galleries, and the Johannes Larsen Museum is no exception. I wasn’t sure what to expect, perhaps a slightly faded, small-town collection of mildewy paintings and a  few token knick-knacks scattered around. Not so! Instead it was like some kind of religious epiphany as I entered a gleaming white, fresh, modern building with the morning light streaming in through the huge windows.

Gallery  I must confess that Larsen’s style is not really to my taste, but seeing his work displayed in surroundings such as these, I could begin to appreciate what the man was about, and his very special use of light.

Holy pictureDeer FreizeThe highlight of the Museum for me, though, was to be able to visit Larsen’s house, where he lived and particularly where he worked. I was greatly inspired by his studio: The notion of having such a space for creativity in one’s own house, in such peaceful surroundings, is deeply appealing.

StudioStudyGreenhouse2After taking care of our appetite for culture, our attention tuned to appetites of a more practical nature and settled on Tornøes Hotel for lunch. Since Kerteminde has a strong fishing tradition I felt it appropriate to order stjerneskud (shooting star), a dish which consists of a piece of white bread covered with boiled white fish, fried breaded white fish, salmon, prawns and caviar, with a bit of salad on the side. I’ve only ever had the supermarket version of stjerneskud before, which although tasty would at best come under the category of ‘light lunch’, so the mountainous heap of fish which was set down before me came as quite a surprise!

Stjerneskud1Food is actually a central theme in our household these days. My husband and I have set ourselves the challenge of eating a different meal every night, with strictly no repetition permitted! It has proved to be a very enjoyable way of  passing the dark evenings, and has given rise to the discovery of new recipes such as beetroot risotto. It may look garish, but it tastes fantastic!Beetroot risottoThe urge to stay indoors and eat nice food and watch old films has become almost primal. Being deprived of snow in our part of Denmark*, the whole landscape has a woeful air and the lack of sun is doing little to help combat the lethargy which is seeping into my bones. Being as I don’t wish to slide into a full-blown depression, I’m trying to come up with ways to be outside and active. When it’s been raining for days, sometimes you just have to say: if you can’t beat it, join it.

Johan jumpingOther than that I’m being sure to make the most of  the rare occasions when the sun does make an appearance, and hopefully it will soon be spring for real.Garden in sun

 

* This was written before this happened:Garden in snow

 

 

Solskin og stjerneskud

ErantisJanuar er en kedelig måned, når julens glimmer er et fjernt minde, og man kun har den fortsat kedelige måned februar at glæde sig til. Undskyld, men jeg lider en smule af vinterdepression, og jeg vil have, at det er forår! Så tidligt som d. 8. januar var der bevis på det meget ønskede sæsonskift: Vintergækkerne var i blomst i vores have, og solsorterne var oppe at slås – et klart tegn på forår, men indtil videre er det ikke blevet til noget.

HouseMåneden begyndte klart nok og var en pragtfuld kulisse for en tøsetur til den flotte fiskerby, som hedder Kerteminde og er hjem for Johannes Larsen Museet.

Piano hall2Jeg får en smag for danske kunstmuseer og uden undtagelse Johannes Larsen Museet. I forvejen vidste jeg ikke, hvad jeg skulle forvente: måske en trist samling af  mugne malerier, som var lidt falmede, og et par symbolske nipsting hist og pist. Tværtimod! Det var som en slags religiøs åbenbaring, idet jeg gik ind i en strålende hvid, frisk, moderne bygning med morgenlyset stømmende ind gennem de enorme vinduer.

Red RoomJeg må indrømme, at Larsens stil ikke er lige til min smag, men det at se hans kunst, udstillet i omgivelser som disse gav mig en forståelse af, hvad mandens ide var, og hans meget specielle brug af lys.

FireplaceStueFireplace freizeImidlertid var det besøget i Larsens hus, der var museets højdepunkt for mig, og at få muligheden for at se, hvor han boede, og især hvor han arbejdede. Jeg blev meget inspireret af hans atelier: Idéen om det at have sådan et sted, hvor man kan være kreativ i ens eget hus omgivet af fred og ro, er særlig tiltrækkende.StudioGreenhouse1Efter at vi havde opfyldt vores appetit på kultur, drejede vores opmærksomhed til appetitten af et mere praktisk begreb, og vi blev enige om, at vi skulle spise frokost på Tornøes Hotel. Fordi Kerteminde har en stærk fiskeritradition, syntes jeg, at det var passende, at jeg bestilte stjerneskud. Hidtil havde jeg kun fået supermarkedernes udgave af stjerneskud, der, selv om det var velsmagende, kunne beskrives som ‘let frokost’. Så det var en stor overraskelse, da en kæmpe dynge af fisk blev placeret foran mig.

Stjerneskud1Maden er egentlig et centralt tema hos min mand og mig for tiden. Vi har udfordret os selv til at spise et forskelligt måltid hver aften uden gentagelse. Det har vist sig at være en meget behagelig måde at tilbringe de mørke aftner på og har givet anledning til at opleve nye opskrifter fx rødbede risotto. Det ser nok skrigende ud, men det smager vidunderligt!

Beetroot risottoTrangen til at blive inde og spise lækker mad og se gamle film er blevet næsten primal. Vores del af Danmark mangler sne, og det hele ser trist ud*. Uden nok solskin er det svært at undgå en nedtur, men jeg prøver at finde på årsager til at være udenfor og aktiv. Når det har været regnvejr i dagevis, skal man nogle gange bare sige: if you can’t beat it, join it.

Johan jumpingBortset fra det vil jeg være sikker på at nyde de sjældne lejligheder, når solen skinner, og forhåbentlig bliver foråret snart til virkelighed.

Garden in sun

 

*Dette var skrevet før dette skete:

Garden in snow

Merry and Bright

19 Dec

MoonThe temptation to hibernate until at least April has been almost irresistable these last few weeks. The weather has been frightful, but not, alas, in a Christmas-spirit-inducing kind of way. Instead of the delightfully low temperatures and mountains of snow which I have experienced in previous Danish winters, we have dismal rain, wind, grey skies and temperatures hovering around 8 degrees, and it doesn’t look set to change any time soon.

Town hall 2Fortunately the Danish sense for hygge is not so easily thwarted and the city centre of Odense is aglow with Christmas cheer.

CastleThroughout the month of December, just as darkness falls, local Scout groups are out in force lighting oil burners positioned in groups around the city’s parks. Walking by after sunset, you encounter pools of flame flickering in the darkness, and I find an earthy reassurance in the combination of fire and night, and the sound of spit and crackle as the wind whips up oily smoke.

HJ HansenParts of Odense are very olde-worlde, and this feeling is reinforced by the use of only white in the city’s Christmas lights.  Compared to the flashing, blinking, multicoloured riot of lights in Glasgow, the simplicity of Odense’s Christmas lights is very tranquil, to the point where I can almost believe that time is standing still as I wander through the streets.

Vintappestræde2The whole length of Vintapperstræde is under a canopy of light, and this is my favourite street to walk through at this time of year.

StatueAt the crossroads of Kongensgade and Vestergade the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale statue of the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep have been given a Christmassy backdrop.

WindowsillBack at home, the gleam of candlelight abounds as I attempt to fend off the December darkness. I love candles anwyay, but add some silver and a couple of poinsettias and it’s instant Christmas!

Sylte candlesWe haven’t yet got as far as sorting out the lighting in the ongoing rennovation of our house, so it’s a good excuse for me to brighten up the darker corners with some yuletide glow.

KalenderlysThere are of course, some traditions in the Danish home associated with Christmas and light. I’m particularly taken with the kalenderlys, which is basically an advent calender in candle form. The trick is to burn the candle down each day to the number corresponding to the date, although I find this quite challenging as it requires close monitoring and I am very easily distracted…

Adventskrans2Requiring slightly less intense scrutiny is the adventskrans (advent crown) of four candles,  which are lit successively on each Sunday in advent, and on Christmas day itself. We also have this tradition in Scotland, although my experience was limited to seeing the Blue Peter presenters make one out of coat hangers and tinsel every year. In my Danish home however, my husband and I like to make our own adventskrans, although this year we had to make sure it was portable in order to be removed from the reach of small paws in between uses.

Aside from the very hyggelig atmosphere my lavish use of candlelight is creating, my husband is rejoicing in the extra degrees of warmth resulting from all this naked flame. Well, Scrooge is a part of Christmas too, you know!

Hvor de gyldne stjerner blinke

Vestergade1I de sidste få uger har det været næsten umuligt for mig at modstå fristelsen til at gå i dvale indtil mindste i april. Vejret har været forfærdeligt, men desværre ikke på en julestemningsagtig måde. I stedet for de dejlige lave temperaturer og masser af sne, som vi fik i tidligere vintre, har vi kedeligt regnvejr, blæsevejr, grå himmel og temperaturer, der ligger omkring 8 grader. Ifølge DMI ændrer det sig ikke foreløbig.

Town hallHeldigvis har vejret ingen indflydelse på danskernes sans for hygge, og Odense centrum gløder af julestemning.

Scout lights with treeI løbet af december måned, lige mens mørket falder på, går spejderne ud og tænder olielamperne, som er opstillet i nogle af byens parker. Hvis man går gennem parkerne efter solnedgang, møder man flammer, som flimrer i mørket, og for mig er der en jordisk tryghed i kombinationen af ild og nat og den knitrende lyd af vinden, der pisker fedtet røg op.

HJ HansenDele af Odense er meget gammeldags, og det er en fornemmelse, som er øget af, at man kun bruger hvidt i byens julelys. Sammenlignet med Glasgows blinkende, flerfarvede udstyrsstykker er Odenses enkle lys meget beroligende, og det er næsten, som om tiden går i stå, mens jeg vandrer gennem gaderne.

VintappestrædeLangs Vintapperstræde er der en baldakin af lys, og det er min yndlingsgade at gå i på denne årstid.

StatueVed krydset mellem  Kongensgade og Vestergade har statuen af H.C. Andersens Hyrdinden og Skorstensfejeren fået en juleagtig kulisse.

WindowsillHerhjemme er der en glimten af stearinlys til overflod, når jeg prøver at afværge decembers mørke. I forvejen elsker jeg stearinlys, men når man tilføjer sølv og julestjerner, er det ren jul.

Sylte candlesI den igangværende renovering af vores hus har vi endnu ikke nået at ordne lys, så jeg bruger julen som undskyldning for at oplyse de mørke hjørner.

KalenderlysSelvfølgelig er der nogle danske traditioner med lys i hjemmet. Jeg er især tiltrukket af kalenderlyset, hvor man brænder stearinlyset ned hver dag til det nummer, der står ud for den tilsvarende dato. For mig er det lidt af en udfordring, fordi det kræver nøje overvågning, og jeg bliver meget nemt distraheret…

Adventskrans 1Adventskransen er noget, der ikke kræver så megen opmærksomhed, og det er nemmere at tænde et lys hver søndag i advent og naturligvis selve juleaften. Vi har den tradition i Skotland, men min erfaring var begrænset til at se værterne på et børneprogram, der hedder Blue Peter, lave en adventskrans af bøjler og lametta. I mit danske hjem kan min mand og jeg imidlertid godt lide at lave vores egen adventskrans, men i år skulle den være af den bærbare slags, så den ikke kan nås af små poter, når den ikke er i brug.

Bortset fra den hyggelige atmosfære, som er skabt af min overdådige brug af stearinlys, jubler min mand over de få ekstra graders varme, der kommer fra al den åbne ild… Scrooge er jo også en del af jul, ved du!

It’s no weather for spring…

20 Mar

Bridge“Beware the Ides of March,” said Shakespeare. “Beware the snowstorms this week,” said the Danish Meteorological Intsitute. We are now safely past the 15th of March so the first warning can now safely be discounted, but the second is still very much in force.

Garden 1
Garden 3

We have officially entered spring but the birds and I are a bit confused: they are nesting and I am spring cleaning. Natrual instinct can’t be denied but it’s taking place against a backdrop of snow/wind/sunshine/warmth/cold. In throwing open the windows, instead of fresh air I’d be letting in a raging blizzard. It just feels a bit wrong. I do take comfort in the knowledge that I’m not alone, though, as even the ice-cream shack has opened – albeit a little prematurely, perhaps.

Skovsøen

There was one day, not long after the official beginning of spring, where it was actually properly warm and felt like the beginning of things to come.

Goldfinch in treeCharged up by the large amount of sunlight, I cleared out the greenhouse a bit and even felt sufficiently confident in the continuation of the good weather to put the pots outside.

Greenhouse1

Greenhouse2

Mostly it was just an excuse to be in the garden and enjoy the flowers.

Erantis carpetBack in the autumn I spent hours planting bulbs with the hope that come spring I’d have carpets of lovely flowers to look at. Due to the topsy turvy weather, the carpet is unfortunately thus far more like a patchy collection of threadbare rugs.

Gronirsk in crocusesI am, however, a hopeful soul, and I know that even if things don’t really work out as I had originally intended this year, the bulbs are there now and will be more than ready for next year.

Crocus carpet

Sadly, the good weather didn’t last and the constant shifts in weather and season have left me in no-man’s-land: I can’t properly get started with spring nor finished with winter.

Erantis frostWith only two weeks left to go before the clocks go forward and summer time officially starts, I’m starting to think that spring will in fact have been completely sprung over this year.

Thermometer warm

Thermometer cold

I know I’m the one who loves winter above all the other seasons, but I am craving the feeling of warm sunshine on my skin, even if it’s through a protective field of sunblock factor 50. In the meantime, my snow-boots stand poised…

Snow boots

Det er her det sner

Chaffy

Foråret er officielt begyndt, men fuglene og jeg er lidt forvirret: De bygger reder, og jeg gør forårsrent. Et naturligt instinkt kan ikke fornægtes, men det sker på baggrund af sne/vind/solskin/varme/kulde. I stedet for at åbne vinduerne for at lukke frisk luft ind, skulle jeg snarere lukke en rasende snestorm ind. Det virker lidt forkert. Jeg finder dog trøst i en viden om, at jeg ikke er alene, for selv is huset er åbent – skønt lidt for tidligt måske.

Skovsøen

Ikke længe efter forårets officielle begyndelse var der en dag, da det faktisk var ordentligt varmt og virkede som begyndelsen af ting, der kommer. Jeg var opfyldt af det store mængde af solskin og ryddede lidt op i drivhuset. Jeg var endda sikker nok på forlængelsen af det gode vejr til at sætte potterne udenfor. Det var for det meste bare en undskyldning for at være i haven og at nyde blomsterne.

CrocusesTilbage i efteråret tilbragte jeg mange timer med at plante løgblomster i håbet om at få et tæppe af flotte blomster i foråret. På grund af det ændrede vejr ligner tæppet egentlig en samling af luvslidte kamintæpper. Men jeg er en håbefuld sjæl, og jeg ved, at selv om ting måske ikke udvikler sig, som jeg oprindelig havde troet, er løgblomsterne stadigvæk dér og er mere end parate til næste år.

Snowdrops

Med det bestandige ustadige vejr og årstider befinder jeg mig i ingenmandsland: Jeg kan hverken begynde på foråret eller blive færdig med vinteren. Med kun to uger til uret stilles frem til den officielle begyndelse af sommertid, begynder jeg at tro på, at foråret faktisk er sprunget dette år over.

Garden 2

Jeg ved, at jeg er én, der elsker vinteren over alle de andre årstider, men jeg tørster efter varmt solskin på min hud, selv om det er igennem et område af solcreme med beskyttelsesfaktor 50. I mellemtiden står mine skistøvler klar…

Snow boots

Hail and High Water

7 Feb

Flooded path

On my cycle home yesterday I experienced many kinds of terrain varying from ice to mud to a carpet of hailstones. Most impressive of all, however, was the severe flooding of the river which runs parallel to the cycle path. The volume of melted snow was such that at times it was impossible to see that there was a path at all.

Flooded bench 2

I had a choice: I could turn back and find a different way home or I could try and cycle through the water – something I had never done before. Having been born with a stubborn streak, I chose the latter and successfully reached the other side without falling off.

Ducks

I’m quite convinced there has recently been some sort of clashing of energies out there in the cosmos, generating challenges both existential and physical. Winter and Spring are really battling it out here on my little corner of the planet, but everywhere there is evidence of new beginnings as the days are getting longer and the sun warmer.

Yellow flowers

It’s only a matter of time before the water goes down and I’m back on track again.

Path

Alle veje fører til Rom

På min cykeltur hjem i går oplevede jeg forskellige slags terræn, der gik fra is til mudder til et tæppe af hagl. Det mest imponerende var dog alligevel den enorme oversvømmelse af åen, der løber ved siden af cykelstien. Mængden af smeltet sne var så stor, at det nogle gange var umuligt at se, om der overhovedet var en sti. Jeg havde et valg: jeg kunne køre tilbage og finde en anden vej hjem, ellers kunne jeg prøve at cykle igennem vandet – noget jeg aldrig før havde prøvet. Da jeg er født med et stædigt karaktertræk, valgte jeg det sidstnævnte, og det lykkedes mig at nå den anden side uden at falde af.

Flooded bench

Jeg er helt overbevist om, at der for nylig har været en eller anden slags sammenstød af energi ude i kosmos, der skaber udfordringer af både eksistentiel og fysisk art. Vinteren og foråret slås virkelig her i mit lille hjørne af kloden, men overalt er der beviser på nye begyndelser som dage, der bliver længere, og solen, der bliver varmere.

Snowdrops 1

Det er kun et spørgsmål om tid, før vandet trækker sig tilbage, og jeg er på fast grund igen.

Winter Wonderland

21 Jan

Le KlintWinter nights in Denmark are dark and long. The makers of Forbrydelsen (The Killing) did a very good job of illustrating this in the latest series, I thought. However, Danish people don’t mind the darkness at all because they illuminate their homes with fabulous Danish design lamps. These are very fashionable indeed and it’s my belief that the joy associated with owning a lamp by Le Klint or Poul Henningsen has led to the demise of the functional curtain in Denmark. Most homes do have some kind of blind or curtain framing the windows, but in most cases these are purely for decoration and are never drawn.

Brass globeAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m a nosey person and I love looking into people’s homes when I’m walking past of an evening and getting a glimpse into how other people live, and this is facilitated greatly by the anti-curtain movement. After many evenings of research/being nosey, I can conclude that a fancy light is a must in the well-decorated Danish home.
Lamp and candleThe placement of the designer lamp is also given great consideration: not only must it be clearly visible from the street, but  it must hang low enough to illuminate the table which inevitably is placed directly underneath. And now here’s a warning to foreigners visiting Denmark: beware the hanging lamp – you WILL bang your head on it. A lot.

Finsens AlleA peek into most homes also reveals the great Danish passion for candles, which I also share. There’s nothing like lighting candles to up the hygge factor in a room. It could also be that those few extra degrees of warmth from the candlelight helps to replace those lost from not drawing the curtains.

CandlesWarmth in general is actually something to be given great consideration if one is spending any time in Denmark in the wintertime. Having found myself woefully inequipped when I moved here in December 2010, I have been steadily building up my winter wardrobe and I’ve finally reached a point where I can go out in sub-zero temperatures and be toasty warm at all times. Basic items I have invested in include: winter boots (fur-lined and waterproof), down-filled coats (knee length), woollen hats (head to be covered at all times, curly hair issue notwithstanding), woollen vests (non-scratchy), woollen jumpers (long enough to cover the posterior), and woollen gloves (with fleece lining).

The effectiveness of my winter kit has enabled me to spend many happy hours outside in temperatures hovering somewhere around minus 10, armed with my trusty camera taking pictures of, well, pretty much everything really! I can’t describe the ecstasy I feel as soon as the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall, so instead I’ll leave you with some pictures of my present winter-wonderland-nirvana…

River
Cats on tour

Driveway

Fowl

Icicle cluster

I sne står urt og busk i skjul

Vinternætter i Danmark er mørke og længe. De, der lavede Forbrydelsen, var dygtige til at illustrere det, synes jeg. Alligevel er danskerne ligeglade med mørket, idet deres hjem bliver oplyst med fantastiske Danish-design-lamper. Disse er ret moderigtige, og det er min mening, at glæden, der kommer fra at eje en lampe af Le Klint eller Poul Henningsen, har ført til døden for fungerende gardiner. De fleste hjem har en eller anden slags gardin eller rullegardin, men de fleste gange er de ren pynt og bliver aldrig trukket for. Som tidligere sagt er jeg et nysgerrigt menneske og elsker at kigge ind i folks hjem, når jeg går forbi om aftenen. Det er fascinerende at se, på hvilken måde andre folk lever deres liv, og mangel på gardiner hjælper meget! Efter mange afteners undersøgelse/nysgerrighed kan jeg konkludere, at en kunstfærdig lampe er nødvendig i det velindrettede danske hjem.

first Placeringen af designer-lampen er omhyggeligt overvejet: Den skal tydeligt kunne ses fra gaden og hænge lavt nok til at oplyse bordet, der ligger direkte nedenunder. Og nu kommer der en advarsel til udlændinge, som besøger Danmark: Du kommer til at støde dit hoved på lampen. Mange gange.

Bird mobile

En kig ind i  de fleste hjem afslører den store danske lidenskab for stearinlys, som jeg også deler. Der er ikke noget så godt som at tænde nogle stearinlys for at forøge hyggen i en stue. Det kunne også være, at de få ekstra grader af varme, der kommer fra stearinlys, hjælper med at erstatte dem, der tabes ved ikke at trække gardinerne for.

Lamp and candle

Varme generelt er faktisk noget, at man må overveje med omhu, hvis man besøger Danmark ved vintertide. Da jeg flyttede hertil i december 2010, var jeg sørgelig dårligt forsynet, da det kom til vintertøj. Siden har jeg samlet en rigtig god vintergarderobe, og nu kan jeg være udenfor i temperaturer, der ligger under frysepunktet, og være dejlig varm hele tiden. Blandt de grundlæggende artikler, jeg har investeret i, er vinterstøvler (pelsforede og vandtæt), dun-fyldte jakker (knælange), uldne hatte (hovedet skal dækkes hele tiden, til trods for hattehår), uldne undertrøjer (der ikke klør), uldne trøjer (lange nok til at dække bagdelen) og uldne handsker (med fleece foring).

Garden with pigeonSå effektiv er min vintergarderobe, at det er lykkedes mig at være udenfor i mange timer i temperaturer, der ligger på cirka minus 10 grader uden at fryse. Det har været dejligt at være ude med mit kamera, og jeg har taget billeder af, tja, næsten alting faktisk! Jeg kan ikke beskrive henrykkelsen, jeg føler, lige så snart temperaturen falder, og snevejret kommer, så i stedet for vil jeg efterlade dig med billeder af mit nuværende vinter-eventyrland nirvana…

Tree

Greenhouses

Cycle path

Crossroads

Fa la la la laaaa, la la la laaaa!

21 Dec

Garden
On 1st December snow came to Denmark. I woke my poor husband that morning with shrieks of, “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” and have remained in a state of high excitement ever since.

Mushrooms cropWinter is by far my favourite season, especially when it snows. The freezing weather transforms everything from ordinary to extraordinary and renews potential for a lot of outdoor activity. We began by building the obligatory snowman, but since I was aided in it’s construction by my husband’s two boys ours ended up with certain feminine attributes (which for the sake of decency are not immediately apparent in the picture) and some harpy-esque wings. Still, I think she looks quite jolly…

Snow harpy crop

A while back I had seen on Facebook some photos of coloured balls of ice which I was dying to make as soon as the temperature dropped. They are made very simply by filling balloons with water dyed with food colouring, then set outside to freeze. I think the end results are quite lovely, especially when the sun shines through them.

Blue ball

At this time of year a lot of Christmas markets start to appear in Odense and there’s nothing like a wander among the stalls on a snowy day to top up the Christmas cheer.

SantasWe went to the HC Andersen Julemarked which is like stepping back in time, with lots of olden days products and events to tempt the senses.

Spejpolse

Poul

After all that cold winter air it goes without saying that a warming glass of gløgg (mulled wine) is required.

Gløgg

But you can’t have gløgg without æbleskiver

Æbleskiver crop

Æbleskiver are similar to pancakes but cooked in a spherical form. They’re dipped into jam and then icing sugar and are a perfect accompaniment to gløgg.

I love all the old-fashioned Christmas decorations which are so popular in Denmark, such as these very traditional goats made of straw:

Goats

There is a lot of hygge at Christmas time in Denmark, and making your own julepynt (Christmas decorations) is high on the agenda.

Window decoration2 In our family it is customary to make your own adventskrans (Advent wreath) and kalenderlys (Advent candle), so armed with various bits of greenery from the garden, pine cones collected from the local petrol station(!) and some festive baubles I set to work…

Calender candle

And while I was at it I made a little something for the front door…

Door decoration

However, there is one Christmas decoration trend in this country which perturbs me – the upside-down star:

Upside down star

This seems as wrong as hanging a horseshoe upside down (which they also do in Denmark!) – all the luck runs out, besides which it disturbs my sense of order. And there’s another thing I don’t get about Christmas in Denmark – they don’t decorate the Christmas tree until two or three days before Christmas! It seems like such a waste when the tree is just sitting outside anyway until then.

Træ

In any case, top of the list of significant events in the lead up to Christmas day has to be the local Nativity play.

Nativity groupThis year I caught the one at Thomas Kingos Kirke in Odense and was very impressed with the children’s singing, they were giving it laldy. The tunes were rather groovy and catchy, altogether a more modern kind of Nativity than I remember from my youth. I always longed to be an angel (it was the irresistible lure of all that silver tinsel) but alas I was destined to be a lowly shepherd which meant I had to wear a dishcloth on my head. I shouldn’t complain though, because as I got older I was promoted to being a wise man and this instead provided the opportunity for wearing shiny curtains in various lurid colours.

Wise menNot so for these guys, their costumes were fabulous – although I was slightly doubtful about the wisdom of giving small boys big sticks and letting them loose in a church, but the teachers did at least have the foresight to remove their shoes, thereby  impeding their possible escape.

Shepherds

Nevertheless, it all went extremely smoothly and I hope the teachers were proud.

Angels

Nu er det jul igen!

Den 1. december kom sneen til Danmark. Jeg vækkede min stakkels mand denne morgen ved at skrige “Det sner! Det sner!” Siden da har jeg befundet mig i en tilstand af glad spænding.

Efter min mening er vinteren den allerbedste årstid, især når det sner. Frostvejret forandrer alting fra almindeligt til ualmindeligt og skaber muligheder for en masse udendørs aktiviteter. Vi begyndte med at bygge den obligatoriske snemand, men fordi jeg blev hjulpet i opbygningen af min mands to drenge, endte vores med visse kvindelige attributer (der pga. anstændighed ikke er umiddelbart synlige på billedet) og nogle harpylignende vinger. Alligevel synes jeg, hun ser ret glad ud.

Snow harpyFor nogen tid siden, havde jeg på Facebook set nogle billeder af farvede iskugler, som jeg ikke kunne vente med at lave, lige så snart temperaturen faldt. De bliver lavet meget enkelt, ved at man fylder balloner med vand, der er farvet med frugtfarve og stillet udenfor for at fryse. Jeg synes, at slutresultatet blev ret flot, især når solen skinnede gennem dem.

Purple ice ball
På denne tid af året begynder en masse julemarkeder at dukke op i Odense, og der er ikke noget så godt som at vandre rundt blandt hytterne på en snefuld dag for at forøge julestemningen.

PiggiesVi tog til H.C. Andersen julemarkedet, der er lige som at gå tilbage i tiden med masser af gammeldags produkter og aktiviteter til at stimulere sanserne.

Sax playerEfter al den kolde vinterluft er det en selvfølgelighed, at man skal have et glas varm gløgg.

Gløgg steamMen man kan ikke have gløgg uden æbleskiver…

Æbleskiver cropJeg elsker al den gammeldags julepynt, som er så populært i Danmark såsom disse meget traditionelle bukke af strå:

GoatsDet findes masser af hygge ved juletid i Danmark, og at lave sin egen julepynt står højt på dagsordenen. I vores familie er det almindeligt at lave vores egen adventskrans og kalenderlys. Så forsynet med forskellige slags grønt fra haven, grankogler samlet hos den lokale benzintank (!) og nogle festlige glaskugler gik jeg i gang…

AdventskransOg mens jeg alligevel var i gang, lavede jeg lidt til hoveddøren.

Door decorationImidlertid er der en slags julepynt her i landet, der forstyrrer mig: den omvendte stjerne.

Upside down starDet forekommer mig at være lige så forkert som at hænge en hestesko op med åbningen nedad (som man også gør i Danmark!) – al heldet falder ud, og desuden forstyrrer det min ordenssans. Og der er en anden ting, jeg ikke forstår ved den danske jul: de pynter ikke juletræet før to eller tre dage før juleaften. Jeg synes, at det er sådan et spild, når træet alligevel bare står der indtil da.

TræØverst på listen over betydningsfulde begivenheder i optakten til jul er uden tvivl det lokale krybbespil. I år nåede jeg det i Thomas Kingos Kirke i Odense og blev meget imponeret af børnenes sang; de gav den fuld gas! Musikken var temmelig melodisk og genkendelig, alt i alt en mere moderne slags krybbespil, end jeg kan huske fra min egen ungdom. Jeg længtes altid efter at være en engel (det var den uimodståelige tiltrækning mod al det sølv-tingeltangel), men desværre blev det min skæbne at være en ydmyg hyrde, hvilket betød, at jeg skulle have et viskestykke på hovedet. Jeg skulle dog ikke brokke mig, fordi jeg, da jeg blev ældre, blev forfremmet til at være en af de vise mænd. I stedet for fik jeg muligheden for at bære skinnende gardiner i forskellige spraglede farver.

Nativity groupDet gælder ikke for disse born. Deres dragter var fantasktiske, skønt jeg var lidt tvivlende over for, hvor klogt det var at give små drenge store stokke og slippe dem løs i en kirke. Men lærerne havde i det mindste forudseendhed til at tage børnenes sko af for at forhindre deres mulige flugt.

ShepherdsIkke desto mindre gik det alt sammen yderst glat, og jeg håber, at lærerne var stolte.

Angels

%d bloggers like this: