Summer vacation

It’s been a while since I’ve seen my mom. Mom’s scheduled flight to visit me back in April was canceled because of the COVID-19 situation and I myself have travelled nowhere since March. Then came the day when restrictions were lifted, air companies started flying in Norway almost like before the pandemic (way more expensive though)

… and masks are a must wear.

Curious fact: It’s the first time in my life I’m wearing such a mask. They make you sweat around your mouth. But it’s alright, when it grants passage to a much needed vacation.

Some years back my mom moved to the coast of Norway. Since I haven’t lived here myself, coming to visit her almost feels like a vacation abroad. The weather is not at all like I’m used to in Norway. It’s actually HOT. The nature is lush and flowering. Staying at your mom’s as an adult, is kind of like living at a hotel with all inclusive servises, free coaching and an amazing view.

Mom’s home is really a pearl, as we say in Norwegian, overlooking the fjord, with a garden full of roses, peonies, lilies and even strawberries, which we have to compete for with the many birds who live in this area and happen to love red fruit for breakfast.

It’s a bit hard to explain how all this is a balm for my spirit without going into details about the difficulties of the spring. I’m focusing on the moment though. The sun is shining, the birds are singing even though I picked up this day’s harvest of strawberries first, bees are making love to the blooming roses and life feels quite wonderful. It’s summer and vacation time.

I wish you, my reader, wonderful moments wherever you are!

Hooray, the sun is back to stay

We’re in the season of sunny nights. The snow is still lingering around many places, but when the sun is shining 24/7 and the thermometer is showing two digit numbers, I think we are seeing the last of it.

People can now meet up in groups since Norway has lifted many of the corona restrictions. After many weeks of social distancing and self isolation, I guess we just needed an occasion to get social and celebrate the fact that we can.

Then came a birthday. Hooray!

 

birthday party, liza 2020
#sunnytimes

In May It May

This is probably the toughest time to live in the north. It feels like the spring will never arrive. We’re in May. My feeds on social media are filled with green grass, bare toes and balcony beers that belong to people living outside the Arctic Circle.

Meanwhile up north:

May in Kirkenes
I quickly realized this was a bad day to wear sneakers.

 

Last Friday I woke up to a white world. On the previous day, I was wearing sneakers, for the first time in six-seven months, celebrating the winter finally being over. Hah!

Looking at the bright side: The sun is back. Next photo was shot at 11 PM.

lizA-NOV02244
Kirkenes in midnight sun.

 

This weekend we finally got to see two digit numbers on the thermometer – Saturday was 16 °C. People were actually walking around in t-shirts and I have a strong feeling that we will see the trees covered with green leafs very soon.

Spring, leafs, buds
24/5 – The trees have buds, a sure sign of spring!

 

This entry ended up being all about weather…

We talk a lot about the weather around here and during one of these regular daily conversations, only that this one happened with a foreigner at the scene and therefore in English, I was told this joke: “You know why they call it May. Because it may, you know. It may snow, it may rain, blizzards may be, may be sunny, it may May”.

 

May 17th in Kirkenes

As you can see in the head image above, there wasn’t a lot of people out in the streets. Even though Norway is lifting many of the restrictions related to the corona outbreak, we still can not gather more than 50 people in one place. Which is why Norways biggest national event didn’t become crowded celebration it usually is. Most people participated from the safe distance of their balcony.

May 17th in Kirkenes, 2020

I consider myself to be very lucky to be working on this occasion. I was following the band for the whole day, all around town, enjoying the music and the uplifting speeches. Most activities, such as children’s parade, school cafe and champagne breakfast, were cancelled this year, but not the bands. I don’t think there could ever be any 17th of May celebration without the bands and patriotic songs  they play, like “Yes, we love this country” and “This is Norway in red, white and blue”. This year I discovered a new marching tune, “Telemark bataljon” – curious souls can listen to it here.

Kirkenes - May 17th 2020

One of the things that made a huge impression yesterday, was a visit to the elderly center. I interviewed three ladies in their 90s. They had dressed up in beautiful dresses, put on flag pins and pearls, and were really looking forward for the band to arrive and play outside their windows. Although they were a bit sad because the children’s parade got canceled because of COVID-19, the mood was cheerful and expectant. This is such a joyful day, one of them told me, seemingly happy and excited about being interviewed. The flag pins on our jackets were exactly the same. I asked her to tell about a May 17th which she remembered especially well. Her smile fell immediately. I have some trouble remembering, she said quietly and suggested I ask someone else. Her face, when she felt she couldn’t fulfill my – and her own expectations, and the feeling that awoke in my own chest, will probably stay with me for a long while. Everything is temporary. All we can do is go with the flow and treasure every moment.

17. mai 2020, Kirkenes

Another interesting experience was checking in on the drive-in church service. The preach was about our society buing built on trust and it was quite inspiring. The confidence we have in each other, the fantastical feeling of being trusted and the faith in equality – Norway a beautiful country to live in. We need to cherish this. I caught the priest on camera just as he was changing into his cassock (I had to google that word) in his trunk-wardrobe. 

Drive-in church in Kirkenes 1705.2020

Have a good day everyone!

If you want to know more about May 17th, check this post >>>

A special May 17th coming up

Tomorrow is the Norwegian Constitution Day, the biggest national celebration in Norway. People dress up in traditional suits (bunad) or clothes in red, white and blue (the colors of the Norwegian flag). Everyone say “Happy Birthday!” to each other. It’s a day for many dear traditions, such as marching in parades and eating as many ice creams as you can.

This year’s celebration will be different. The reason doesn’t really need further explanation with the whole world being affected by the pandemic.

Then again, no May 17ths have ever been the same…

Are you ready for a walk down the memory lane with me?

17.05.2011
The first, or maybe second, 17th of May after moving to Oslo.

Last year

I was the proud co-host of an amazing champagne breakfast. This is probably the May 17th when I managed to uphold most of the traditions that go with this celebration. I got a champagne headache before leaving the breakfast table, but still walked in the parades and ate an ice cream, despite the weather being rather chilly. Looking at the photos from last year, I realize there is actually way more snow lying around right now.

Breakfast table - 17.05.2019
Everyone brought champagne and something for the table.

The very first photo

I was ten years old. My mom handed me kodak camera and here is the result. I don’t really remember much of this day, only that it was kind of uncomfortable. I think it had something to do with the competitions that had been arranged in the school yard; jumping around with a sack around the legs, carrying a potato with a spoon in the mouth – that kind of activities. But the ice creams I ate, made it all a lot better.

May 17th
A day I vaguely remember thanks to the photos.

 

Karl Johans gate

If there is one place you definitely should experience on this day, it’s Karl Johans gate – the main street of the city of Oslo. Here you can watch parades, orchestras and bunads from all parts of Norway, and it’s a long-standing tradition that the royal family of Norway waves from a balcony of the royal palace, the yellow building which you see at the end of the street in the photo. The king usually gives a beautiful and unifying speech about what we actually celebrate on May 17th, our including and free society ❤

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Gratulerer med dagen!