The Sunday Nature Call, uke 33
One new bird this week. There’s no disappointment from last week’s bounty. I expected this week would be lean. I did spot a raptor soaring over the neighborhood but I couldn’t make a positive ID, there’s always next week.
Kvitkinngås (Branta leucopis)
I think I’ll remember well seeing Kvitkinngåsene because I was in the company of my family during a little boat tour of the Oslo Harbor. Side note, Oslo Fjord isn’t a real fjord; the shock! It wasn’t created by a glacier but rather a splitting of the earth – think rift valley. I will be a good sport and not write any letters suggesting a geographical correction. That would be the kind of deviance that could get me kicked out of the country faster than waving a Swedish flag!
Berry picking is a really big deal in Norway. My evidence is that it’s one of the first things I learned about when we got here. This time of year berries are on sale everywhere – like sweet corn in Iowa. Meghan and I agreed that we finally got to taste what strawberries are really supposed to taste like: soft and very sweet. I knew there were great expectations for berries. Ryal has a long-standing interest in berries based on a book he has read, re-read, asked a million questions about and read again. Plus he’s oh-so-hungry. Owen just likes to eat, but especially fresh produce.
“Ocian in view. O! the joy,” Excited words from William Clark on November 8, 1805 as his party finally reached their destination. I really like that quote but our joy wasn’t first tempered by trials and tribulations of crossing an uncharted continent. We finally went to the woods like proper Norwegians on Saturday. I was eager to hit the woods because I see it as another checkmark on the Oslo experience, and I hoped to score some new birds (not to be). The boys were “dancing with visions of blueberries dancing in their heads.”
The faithful #32 Bus drove us up the mountain. The end of the line was our goal. Seriously, just when you think Oslo can’t get prettier, drive up the hills. “Voksen Skog,” everybody off. Everybody was just us. All the real Norwegian were already there. Where in the hell are you from? Who goes to the forest at two in the afternoon?
For Nordmarka being such a big deal this enterance was underwhelming, classicaly Scandinavian I suppose. Why brag? A short walk on a gravel trail took us to Strømsdammen, a little lake set against a painfully steep talus slope. Families were scattered around the lake enjoying the day, naked little kids, senior citizens in sunning chairs and parents who hand toted incredible amounts of gear. Well, we found our little piece of shoreline and convinced the twins to take a dip.
Well, we convinced them to strip to their underwear and wade. Owen bravely plunged and immediatlely retreated – COLD! Typical, Ryal held back to see how others faired. Ha, he thought he had it figured out. Cautiously he wadded in, and then splash he slipped and was immerssed. God laughed.
After a birthday suit sun-dry, we headed further into the forest. All the while, Ryal was talking about berries. I did my best to downplay finding them because I didn’t want him to be too disappointed. “Hey, here’s one,” said Meghan. OMG, we actually found blueberries. And find them we did. Ryal did his best ursine impression by ignoring all formal berry picking conventions and just plopping down amongst the bushes and doing what the good Lord designed kids to do: eat.
Left to their own devices, the boys would have stayed there. I wanted to move. We pressed on, stopping here and there to pick. We reached the alpine hills with the snowmakers and turned around. All the while the trail was busy with young parents blazing down hills on bikes towing trailers with children, elderly hikers with poles, and everyone in between. My kind of scene.
Imagine a generous slice of the Boundary Waters abutting Minneapolis. At 166 square miles, the Nordmarka is 2.5 times larger than Fort McCoy. Everyone deserves such a refuge in their town – vote!
The week ahead promises more pleasant weather, more Solidago, and less daylight. Are new birds in the offing? Early migrators are afoot.
Looking ahead, looking up, and keeping my pencil sharp. -jlh