Autumn

Sunrise/sunset: 05:42/19:45 Daylength: 14hr02min

I wrote, last week, of frost and autumn is following fast on the heels of the drop in temperature. Before moving to the north I would have said that spring was my favourite season, but it’s so brief here as to be almost non-existent. Winter, though I love it, is too long, but autumn is sweet and still and very beautiful.

Autumnal colours from the back garden

There’s a sense of battening down the hatches for the winter to come. We were driving home on Saturday last week when we saw a tractor at the side of the road in an area where wood was being crated up. We stopped and ordered two crates. As we were only a few hundred metres away, the farmer agreed to deliver, so later that day, this pile of wood was deposited in our driveway. It took some time to stack. It’s not obvious from the photo, but the stack is four layers deep. Seeing it all safely under cover, ready for the wood stove in the depths of the Arctic winter, brought a real sense of satisfaction.

It’s getting darker. We will shortly be at the Equinox and it struck me that the seasonal foods will soon begin arriving in the supermarket. No mince pies here (though our local Europris has started to stock a few Iceland products, so you never know) but rather there will be mørketids boller, which are doughnuts with vanilla cream, topped with darkish chocolate.

And as the Darkness closes in, I am often out walking with Triar in the twilight. As you can see from the picture below and the one at the top of the page, we live in a very beautiful place.

Evening walk with Triar

We still don’t have internet in our new home and that tends to mean I don’t follow the news very closely. It’s quite peaceful, not knowing so much about what’s going on in the wider world, other than things that are so significant that they come into conversation or crop up as a part of my job. This week there was a stark reminder of the ongoing war in Ukraine in the form of emergency readiness instructions from work. As someone performing a critical function in the food chain, I received information about what to do in the case of a radioactive incident with fallout spreading over Norway. Even if the government issues a general warning not to go outside, we will be expected to do so, and the guidance explained how to minimise the risks. I already have some iodine tablets in the cupboard for Andrew and John though, being over 50, I have no need to take them. Hopefully the tablets will gradually go out of date and will never be needed.

And I woke at 3am last night, as I often do these days, and glanced at my e-mails on my phone. There was a message from WordPress about a blog I follow, and the title of the blog was “The Death of the Queen”. Of course, I went to explore further and found that Queen Elisabeth II had indeed died on Thursday afternoon. While the news was not devastating, nor wholly unexpected, it does very much feel like the end of an era. I remember when growing up, learning a about the Queen and the Prime Minister, who at that time was Jim Callaghan. I recall assuming both were permanent fixtures and feeling shocked when Jim Callaghan was replaced. How long a year was when I was nine years old!

But the Queen has been a permanent feature as a backdrop to my life. I remember the street parties in 1977 for the silver jubilee, and going on a float in a parade. The eighties were punctuated with a pair of royal marriages, the nineties with their sad endings and the awful demise of Diana. Earlier this year, while recovering from Covid, I watched The Crown, and though I know it’s not entirely historically accurate, it gave me a broader overview of the long life and momentous events the Queen has lived through. As I watched the series, I experienced a degree of melancholy. I feel that the optimism and sense of cohesion that pervaded the UK when I was younger has gone and the Queen’s death feels like a link to that past has been removed. It will take some adjustment to having a king, though living over here, I will be one step removed. I won’t see new coins and notes with the head of King Charles (even that sounds wrong). I won’t hear the national anthem sung. Though the UK still feels like home in many ways, I am gradually becoming further and further from the realities of living there.

The Aurora visited last weekend, in spectacular style. I thought I’d share these with you, though my Facebook friends may have already seen them. Andrew called me outside close to midnight last Saturday. I had just gone to bed, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth getting up for.

And finally, another death. We lost our adopted guinea pig, Susie, this week. We’d had her for three years or so and she was three years old when we got her. She drove the length of Norway with John and I two years ago when we moved up here. We sadly had to get her put to sleep on Tuesday. It became quickly obvious that Brownie, who regular readers might recall we bought on arrival here in the north, was lonely and so we bought her a new friend. Meet Millie, the latest addition to the McGurk family,

Brownie meets Millie

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