The Sunday Nature Call, uke 34
Twice I’ve seen a hawk this week but the views were too fleeting to make positive identifications. Patience and persistence will win the day, plus a dollop of luck never hurts. Sunday was generous, I made my new bird score today as well as a surprise.
Spettmeis (Sitta europaea)
This guy was easy to identify, he was acting like a nuthatch. Maybe I’ll get my hawk this week.
Where are all the squirrels? It’s been several weeks without a sighting – so odd. I was tempted to offer a doubloon to whomever could spot one for me – they were becoming my white whales. But today, the sun shined on not one but three different squirrels in different parts of the forest. They (Sciurus vulgaris) had lovely chestnut coats with a light underbelly. Sighting one didn’t give me the feeling of inflamed attention like Captain Ahab, my reaction was more in-line with Clark Griswold.
Another inferential sighting was made: Moose! Here they (Acles acles) are called Elg, it can be confusing. Elk are called Hjort. Back to the moose, er Elg. We were on a trip to “the beach” at Bogstad lake. On the walk to the lake, there they laid, on the middle of the trail, big poop. My first thought was a dog, but uff, that would be one scary big dog. We weren’t sure at the time and I didn’t bring the camera, but after consulting the wisdom of the internet I’m confident. Now I can have a new obsession.
The focus of this week’s Sunday Nature Call is less about the wildlife than on how people here seem to interact with it. We have noticed differences on several fronts. One front is the time children spent out-of-doors. Two, there’s a bias for making the most of the weather you have. And three, the structure of society makes accessing the out-of-doors more convenient.
Kids spend a lot of time outside. The other day was gorgeous and Meghan noticed the nearby daycare was in the park the whole day: they played, they rested, they sang songs, they ate, they played…all day outside. I suspect they peed outside if the urge called.
They boys’ school lets out at 1 Pm, typical. Then there is “Activity School,” pronounced “Aks, (like Ox) and according to everyone, “everybody does it.” You have to pay though…tell me something new about Norway, but I digress. The first 90 minutes or so they are outside – just having chaos as is totally normalized here. My boys are getting killed. They just aren’t used to spending hours outside without structure. Probably suggests a bigger problem (mine).
My dad has a favorite phrase, “Make hay when the sun shines.” I bet there’s an expression here that goes something like, “Spiller når solen skinner.” It’s probably so obvious they don’t but they should, trademark John Hanson 2015. In my post about Halden I noted the reveling in the outside lunch (but really, who wouldn’t?). On Wednesday we did something I feel like the Norwegians would do: we took advantage of glorious day.
I had found out that there was a new beach/swimming area constructed in the harbor and that it was pretty neat. My first thought was “that’s nice, but I’ll wait.” Once I told Meghan, we were packing. Sørenga was a happening scene. Very cool on a hot afternoon. Bodies were strewn about the decking, soaking in the rays, while many others were swimming gayly. Well, when in Rome.
Owen and I hauled ourselves to the top of the diving platform. I jumped – OMG it was cold. I yelled back at Owen it was great. He jumped, and then nearly jumped back out of the water onto the deck. We were refreshed. Ryal took some cajoling but he jumped too. His reaction was priceless. I felt like I was getting away with a little bit of child abuse that we could all laugh about later. Meghan took the plunge, once. The thing was, I got used to the water pretty quickly. And in the water, but under that broiling sun, it was actually pretty nice.
And maybe that’s the one of the big mental shifts. Who cares if the water is cold, you get in and enjoy. I read a report, empirical research, that people in northern Norway feel better about the winter (there it’s total darkness), than do people in the south of Norway (who actually get some sunshine). In other words, life is short – get out there.
The last point it is the most abstract, potentially stereotyping, but key feature. In this Constitutional democracy, Norwegians have voted to make health and the outdoors a priority. For example, we have come across two outdoor “gymnasium” parks without trying. High taxes on alcohol and chocolate are others – living longer and better does sound like a nice exchange.
Here you are essentially guaranteed some vacation. You own it, not your employer. The standard of living and labor laws are such that running between multiple jobs or juggling will-call employment are unusual. Most people have employment conditions that give them enough certainty and knowledge of one’s schedule that leisure time is possible to be a planned and consistent experience. They voted for that, why haven’t we?
My challenge for you is to take stock of your relationship with fresh air. One, do something pointless in nature despite the weather. If you regret it, I will send you a personal apology through the post. Two, think about how little it would take for you to get yourself and family/friends/dogs…outside – unplugged – and unfettered. Just think about it.
I’ll be keeping a look out for hawks carefully this week. Also, I be keeping a good attitude about the weather. We’ve had an exceptional run of stellar weather that is forecast to end. I will do my best to choose joy.
Looking ahead, looking up, and keeping my pencil sharp. -jlh