Tag Archives: Light

Recovery

Sunrise/sunset: 05:20/ 20:11. Daylength: 14hr51min

And so it’s September and already autumnal here in the far north. Though I enjoyed the summer, it had a frenetic feel to it. I had heard, before I moved here, that many people found twenty four hour daylight more troublesome than the darkness of winter and I can understand why. Even with blackout blinds and curtains, it’s disconcerting to wake at four in the morning to see bright sunlight around the edges. Too easy to lose track of time and unexpectedly difficult to go back to sleep when your brain is telling you it’s morning and time to get up.

It’s also interesting to note, as I check timeanddate.com, that it still isn’t fully dark. At the moment, during the darkest part of the night, we are still in something called “astronomical twilight”. It’s a bit of a technicality, related to where the sun is in relation to the horizon, but we won’t experience full darkness for another week and a half. Either way, it’s reassuring to see it getting dark outside the window in the evening, though odd to have to get used to putting lights on again. The rapidity of the change is taking some getting used to.

Not much has happened this week and I don’t have so many photographs. I worked for about an hour on Monday (at home) and attended a meeting on Teams about half an hour in. Though I was there in spirit, my woolly brain was having trouble following what people were saying. Hilde was there too and asked how I was. I explained I was still tired (at that stage, I was still waking at least once through the night to cough for an hour) and proposed working limited hours each day and taking time off using some of the hours I’ve accrued. But she told me if I was still sick, I should use my last day of self-reported sick leave and perhaps get a doctor’s note.

Obviously being ill hasn’t been pleasant, but it has been instructive. The standard legal requirement in Norway is that employers must allow you three days of self-reported sick leave before you have to get signed off by a doctor. You can take up to three days, four times a year. I had assumed that was my entitlement, but Hilde told me that Mattilsynet have signed up to a better agreement (recommended by the state, but not enforced) that we can take eight days sick leave before we have to see the doctor and have up to twenty four days in a year. I was glad to hear it, having already taken two of the four lots of three days. I hope I won’t have to take any more this year, but with Covid on the rise, nothing is guaranteed.

I am signed up to get updates on the Covid situation from Folke Helse Instituttet, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Covid is rising rapidly in Norway at the moment and the children are now back at school, so it is likely to escalate. Yesterday I received two messages from them regarding the figures. It seems that, like the UK before them, Norway have decided that, as the most vulnerable people have now been fully vaccinated, they are going to let Covid run its course. I knew this was going to happen at some point. There has to be an end to lockdowns. And of course, more general measures to slow down the spread, like working from home and keeping your distance from others are still in place. But I do still have an edgy feeling when I think about how the next few months might be. A bit like teetering on the brink of a properly scary roller-coaster. I wonder what the world is going to look like on the other side of all this.

Speaking of vaccinations, I had my second on Wednesday. Having researched the reasons for not getting it when unwell, I reckoned that I was recovered enough to get it done. It would also mean that if I had any side effects, I would be at home already. I was sitting in the queue when my phone went twice. Ann was trying to call. I didn’t answer, but a few minutes later I got a message from John to say that he’d been in an accident at the abattoir and had hurt his hand. He was coming over to get an x-ray at the emergency doctors’ clinic here in Finnsnes. It’s very well equipped because of the distance to the nearest hospital.

And so after my vaccination, I went to collect him. Fortunately, his wrist was not broken, but he too was signed off for the rest of the week. As Anna was now unwell, it didn’t seem a good idea for him to stay with us, and so I took him shopping, we ate lunch in the car, and then I drove him home. I am used to driving when tired and sick (in the small, rural practices I worked at in Scotland, unless you were bed-ridden or actively vomiting, you were expected to be at work) but I did have to stop for a rest break on the way home. There has been a lot of weather this week: sun and rain and dramatic skies. The photo at the top of the page was where I stopped and below is a rainbow that appeared while we were eating lunch.

Other than that, I’ve not been out and about much. I’ve been hanging around at home, cuddling the dog, eating jelly and looking out of the window which, fortunately for me, is a view well worth looking at. And so I will leave you with a pictorial summary of the last few days and hope for more variation next week, when I will be fully back at work.

Changes

Sunrise/sunset: 07:38/ 17:29. Daylength: 9hr 50min.

I have been adding the changing daylength at the top of each post for a while now. Those who have noticed might have calculated that over the course of each week, we are losing an hour of light and gaining an hour of darkness. The rate of change is not exactly disconcerting, but it is a little disorienting. I look at the clock expecting it to be late evening and find it is only seven o’clock.

Sometime last week, I noticed two of the trees beside the little pond in the town centre had been decorated with lights. In the UK and in the more southerly part of Norway where I used to live, there were tasteful lights draped in the branches of the trees around Christmas, but this was something different. The whole tree, trunk and branches, seemed to be swathed in lights, and it seemed odd that there were only two. I drove home yesterday and to my delight, saw that now there were lots more trees lit up. I don’t know whether they are finished, or whether there are more to come, but Andrew, Triar and I went for a wander around the pond and it was beautiful.

As well as the changing daylength, there has been another change this week. John has started to do seasonal work at the abattoir. He is working with the sheep shearing squad. There is a technique, of course, to sheep shearing. He tells me it’s important to remove the wool in a smooth manner, ensuring that the length doesn’t get disrupted. If they don’t get it right first time, they are encouraged not to take another cut as the shortness of those segments would degrade the quality and mean the price would be lower. For my part, I’m glad that the wool is used. I remember being told at university that wool was considered so worthless that it was often thrown away. If we breed animals for food, I can’t help feeling that we should do what we can to use every one of the products that creates. Anyway, for now, John has moved out and is living in a house with other members of the team and seems to be enjoying it, which is wonderful.

Andrew has also been away this week, visiting his dad and the orthodontist. He flew back yesterday evening, and as the airport is near to where I was working, I decided I would find something to do there instead of coming home and having to drive back. Rather than leaving Triar at home all day on his own, he came with me in the car. The airport is at Bardufoss, and as Foss is Norwegian for waterfall, I decided to go and look for it. It didn’t take too long to find. I’m sure it was beautiful once… but it was now empty. Norway is famous for its renewable energy. 98% of electricity production comes from renewable sources, and though the number of wind farms is increasing year on year, the majority still comes from hydroelectric.

But of course, where there are mountains, you are never too far from a waterfall. As I was driving, I noticed signs for Målselvfossen and so I followed them. It was well worth the effort. As Triar and I walked down into the valley, sunlight stippled the hills in the distance.

Down beside the river, the roar filled our ears. There was a salmon ladder, currently closed, but well worth a revisit next year as the summer comes round again. We’ll definitely be coming back!