Tag Archives: Spring

Depth of Vision

Sunrise/sunset: 02:20/23:14 Daylength: 20hr54min

There’s only a week and a day to go until we have 24 hour daylight again. I just counted the number of weeks between Polar Night and Midnight Sun and it was only seventeen weeks. No wonder life here is a whirlwind of changing light patterns. The snow is in serious melting mode. There’s a lot of mud now, and puddles, rushing streams and brown, brown grass. The trees are still bare and, until a couple of days ago, it looked as if everything was dead. But in those couple of days, there has been a subtle change. Wherever you look, if the snow has been gone for a few days, there are signs that the regrowth has begun. The coltsfoot flowers at the top of the page are first to arrive, but as well as their yellow, there are tufts of green grassy plants and patches of ruby red. It will still take a bit more time to get going, but by the beginning of June, everything will be growing rampantly. Sadly, this will include mosquitoes that grow to the size of elephants, but you can’t have everything!

I got in touch with a dear friend of mine from Scotland this week and was terribly saddened to hear that she is going through something unimaginably tough right now. I could feel her pain and I so much wish that I could be closer. If you are reading, my friend, you have been in my thoughts all the time since we spoke. It did give me a sense of perspective however, over my own problems and yet my wonderful friend still found the time to say how frustrated she had felt on my behalf in recent weeks. I have made some amazing friends over the years and I its at times like this that I most wish I was back in the UK.

It’s been generally a good week at work, though I had a day and a half off on Monday and Tuesday as my left eyelid suddenly swelled up and turned red and hot. Norwegian doctors are rightly reluctant to hand out antibiotics, but I rolled up at the surgery mid-morning on Monday (as I had started to feel more generally unwell) and I was given topical antibiotics in the form of chloramphenicol eye ointment. I had half expected to be told to try paracetamol (given that physiotherapy – Norwegian doctors’ other staple – probably doesn’t apply here). The ointment does seem to have helped, though my eyelid looks a bit red again this morning. Hopefully it will do the trick, though having smeary gunk all round my left eye for half the day isn’t the best look.

Anyway, back to the rest of the week, I was delighted to be working alongside my new colleague Ingrid. Ingrid has taken over my old job in Finnsnes and will be spending some of her time at the abattoir and some of her time out in the field with Thomas. I hope she’s enjoyed her week with us as much as I enjoyed having her there. Obviously working in an abattoir isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we try our best to be friendly and welcoming and I am doing my utmost to ensure she gets plenty of help and guidance. Starting a new job can be incredibly tough if you don’t get enough support. She wasn’t originally planning to come back next week, but I invited her to come a couple of days to work with Konstantin and she has agreed, so we must have done something right!

I had one of those 24 hour blood pressure tests done from Thursday to Friday. Surprisingly, having my arm squeezed every half hour didn’t disrupt my sleep too much. I confess that I took a sneak peak at the results and I’m fairly sure the doctor is going to tell me I have to do something about my blood pressure as it’s a bit higher than it ought to be. I hope he will give me practical advice and help me lose weight, get de-stressed and exercise more, rather than going straight for drugs, but I guess it will depend on how bad it actually is. I’ve been comfort eating more than I should in the past months and have been virtually hibernating through the snowy winter, so it’s not that surprising, but working out how to tackle it, while theoretically easy, will be mentally difficult. Still, if anyone needs an incentive to lose weight and get moving, it’s me. I know that if I do, I will feel better. Get the whip out and give me a hand please!

It’s only a couple of weeks now, until I’m going on another holiday to the UK. I am visiting Mum and Dad in Yorkshire, so hopefully we will spend a relaxing week exploring castles and trying not to eat too many fish and chips. April and May have so many bank holidays in Norway that they usually seem to fly by. This coming week, we have Wednesday and Thursday off. Wednesday is 17th May, which is Norway’s national day and Thursday is Ascension Day, which is quite a random day to have off, but no complaints from me. It’s supposed to get up to 19 degrees this week, so hopefully we have had the last of the snow for this winter. I will need to go and get the summer tyres put on my car, and other celebratory summer things!

Have a lovely week all!

Darling Buds of May

Sunrise/sunset: 02:11/ 23:24. Daylength: 21hr13min

There are signs that spring is finally arriving here in the far north. Last week, I took this picture from the window of my apartment. It was snowing heavily and wetly enough that even Triar didn’t want to go out and play.

Snow falling over the bridge to Senja

Compare and contrast with this picture from yesterday, where the sun is out, the snow is gone from the roofs, and Gisundet sound is so calm that there’s an almost perfect reflection of the island on the waterline.

Gisundet and Senja on a sunny day when spring is approaching

The trees in the photo above still look lifeless, but there are signs everywhere that the earth is stirring after the long freeze.

That little flower breaking through the icy snow is amazing. Life on the edge!

Another compare and contrast. Remember the ice bridge?

Ice bridge over the Malselva river at Karlstad

Nobody is going to be driving across it any time soon!

Malselva river with dirt road disappearing into the water

A few weeks back, Triar lost his favourite ball over the edge of the garden. The snow was so hard packed at that point that it rolled over the edge, bounded across the pathway and on down the hill. I let him run down to try to find it, but he returned empty mouthed and sad. Yesterday the path down the hill was finally passable, and to Triar’s joy (picture at the top of the page) we found his ball at the foot of the steep slope!

In my ongoing campaign to challenge myself at work, I have volunteered to go to Tromsø next week. Someone is coming up from head office on Thursday and Friday and is to be taken out on some welfare visits. Fortunately for me, Line is coming out with us on Friday, but on Thursday, I’m shall be out on my own (with the esteemed visitor) to do the postponed traceability inspection at a hobby goat establishment. Bear in mind that the animal health law still hasn’t been updated on the computer system, that I have never done a traceability visit without Thomas or Birgit, and that all such visits have to be chosen based on risk (we’re supposed to select those we assess as having a higher risk of law breaches) and it seems like the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge and competence! What could possibly go wrong?

John is out on a farm lambing at the moment. He seems to be enjoying it, and I’m very happy for him and also proud. When he left home a few years ago, I imagined he would spend his life working in an office, but he is embracing the world of farming more and more. I don’t suppose he has any conscious memory of coming out on farm calls in his baby car seat, though perhaps he remembers being allowed to drive a tractor as a small boy. Either way, it’s wonderful to see. I’ve always been drawn to that world, even though as a Mattilsynet vet, I’m peripheral to it at best. Andrew and I are going out to visit later today.

I was also out at a farm earlier this week and saw a stoat. Apologies for the poor quality of the images, but this tiny creature was dragging a rat it had killed across a patch of grass. The rat was definitely more bulky than the stoat itself. What an amazing animal!

Anyway, I think that’s all for this week! Hopefully after today there will be lamb pictures and Tuesday is 17th of May, when Norway will be decked out in red, white and blue to celebrate their national day. Seven hour working days and 24 hour daylight! Tune in shortly for the next exciting update! Have a good week all.

Small Things

Sunrise/sunset: 01:52/ 23:45. Daylength: 21hr 52mins

Only another three days and we will reach the point where the sun officially doesn’t drop below the horizon until 24th July. I know now that there will be a delay due to the height of the surrounding mountains. For a few days, it will continue to sink behind them, but after that, on sunny days, we should be able to see the midnight sun.

John told me yesterday about a conversation with a friend. John was trying to express how it felt to see the sun again after the polar night. Although it never reached the point of being dark 24/7 there was an ethereal quality to the light and for a month and a half, there were no shadows, even when the sky was clear. The return of the sun felt like a catharsis. John tells me his friend commented that you have to appreciate the small things, but up here, it didn’t feel small at all.

I feel a bit the same now we are waiting for spring. It’s a long time coming. I’m not sure what I was expecting. After all, I lived in a more southern part of Norway for ten years and spring didn’t arrive until May even there, but with the long daylight hours, it feels strange that things are not further forward. I find myself searching for signs and they are appearing.

All around I hear water running where in winter there was frozen silence. Where there is a rise in the forest floor or a slope that faces the sun, there is a noticeable green tinge. Yellow flowers that look like a cross between daisies and dandelions are pushing through the dirt that has been deposited on the roadsides from five months of snow clearing.

Two days ago, one of the small trees behind the house sprung new leaf buds. I trust that the others will not be far behind. There are a lot of deciduous trees here. The lower slopes of the mountains are swathed in forests and many of them still look black. Surely the change must come soon. I find myself hoping that the lower slopes will be green while the upper slopes are still swathed in snow.

Elsewhere, it seems like winter still has a hold, albeit one that is weakening. Lakes are still frozen, the forests are still filled with snow.

I remember John commenting in August last year that winter never really leaves here. Instead it retreats up into the shadowy corners of the mountains. But that will do for me. Tomorrow is May 17th, which is Norway’s national day. We will be going down into the centre of town to see the children march. As is traditional here, we will be feasting on Norway’s national dish: hot dogs. I hope the sun will be shining for us all.