After 20+ years in the world, I've returned home. Denmark and I have both changed. I feel like a stranger in a strange land with no language to make sense to myself and others. Why Have I come back? Is there a Nordic essence? Can one fall in love with her native land again? Join me as I explore my Roots and find out.
Nordic Roots # 1
The first thing the strikes me is the winter landscape – naked trees, moist textures of fermentation and fading colors.
Nordic seasons are indomitable, marked by significant changes in light, nature and temperature. For 20 years, I have not experienced (survived) an entire fall and winter season. My eyes already hungry for light, my hips longing for the caress of summer, I'm astutely aware that my natural habitat of sensuality has gone amiss. My body does not know this. I watch fellow Danes go about their lives, in more layers, unfazed. Some throw themselves into the ice cold waters and reemerge, smiling.
Where is my Viking Blood when I need it?
My prior homes Kathmandu and San Francisco do not suffer such severe seasonal change. In winter a deep fog shrouds Kathmandu, but by midday it's burned off and the sun brings warmth back. San Francisco winters might greet you with wind, rain and grey skies, but only for so long, before your Californian sunlit dream returns. For 20 years I've counted on the light to not stray afar.
Nordic winter requires candles and kindling of your inner light
In San Francisco everything is wilder – the mountains, ocean, hills, the earth is rocky and hard and here and there, a grove of ancient redwoods or eucalyptus trees. In Nepal everything is more extreme – the desert lowlands drier then dust, the rocks, the rivers, the mud, the landslides, the green hills and rice paddy valleys slippery, and the high-arching backbone of the Himalayas, thankfully drawing you towards your true North.
The Danish landscape is softer, the hills gentler, the pastures more groomed. Everything is smaller. Forests, lakes, streams and fjords all around, touching the eyes of romantics and melancholics in equal measures. Of course, there's the rocky island of Bornholm commanding the Baltic sea and far west, the long sandy coast is taming the Nordic sea. The top of Denmark is wide open, flat, sandy, incessantly moved about by winds and gust, as if to prove the impermanence of it all, but it doesn't matter, because since dawn, the magnificent light there makes any artist heart swoon.
It's a Naked landscape
Winter brings a confrontational honesty. The seasonal cycle of birth, death and rebirth is visible, viscerally part of your Danish life. Here's no Californian beach to escape to, no mountain top to scale. You are left to deal with your own darkness as best as you can.
The naked winter scape meets my own nakedness. Having let go of most of my possessions, my Californian life, old loves and outdated dreams, I'm here at the roots, in the middle of my life, watching the past compost, fade, die. It's a seasonal thing.
Two things on my mind:
How do animals stay alive during winter hibernation?
Do we see better in the dark?