I let too much time go by and now I have an extra large update plus I'll be adding another short entry right after.
Starting with two weekends ago, I went with Unni, Finn Ove and Lill Nora to Ytre Hvaler Nasjonalpark, which is one of those Norwegian words I don't have to translate, right? "Ytre Hvaler" seems to translate to "Outer Whales". It's a cluster of islands that look like whales, and it's at the south end, or outer part of Norway. Most of the park is actually marine, with over 6,000 species and counting. On land, it's beautiful enough:
Those pines just grow right into and over the rocks. And:
See the little flag? Near and around the park they say there have been settlements since the Bronze Age. For Norway, that's between 1700 and 500 BCE...wow that's old! Thanks Wikipedia. And close up:
The coastline. I'm a big fan of little flowers and grasses growing out of rocks, and I got that in abundance here. I took a picture of every new plant I saw, especially the ones I could tell were related to the ones I knew back in Minnesota. Finn Ove asked me if I was going to take a picture of everything. Every plant, Finn, every plant. We swam at the beach:
And had dinner on a little charcoal grill. It was nice to be immersed in their Norwegian chatter and sometimes understand because of the context. My reading in Norwegian is still far above my listening comprehension because I still spend more time reading it than hearing it so far. But I'm studying and it's only a matter of time and commitment. While also keeping up with my primary studies. On this trip I learned a saying in Norwegian from Lill Nora: "Finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klar" which translates basically to "There is no bad weather, just bad preparation". Makes sense for Norway!
After dinner Lill Nora and I and their sweet sheltie Celine:
Went for a walk along the coast. As an aside, Celine is the best dog I've met in a while--she's super calm most of the time, but when you give her a plastic ball she kind of plays soccer with you. Unni calls her a guru or buddha dog because of her calm and very aware nature. She's also good at leaping from rock to rock--I think they told me her breed is from the coastal islands:
Other animals just like to pose on the rocks.
Humanae extensio I think they are called.
After a nice sunset we slept in a tent with 3 little rooms off of one big middle area. It was a nice tent and I slept pretty well. In the morning I went for a nice walk on the same coast, going farther in. There was some litter here and there, but I guess that's what happens to popular places. Actually, so far I'd say that compared to Minnesota, at least when it comes to State Parks and the like, I never saw litter like I do here. People will have a fire and leave debris, like cigarettes and plastic containers. I wish we could stop with the plastic, at least the vast proliferation thereof. All in all I had a great time camping, and I can say I went this summer unlike last year when I wasn't able to get people together or muster up the inspiration to go by myself. Thanks Unni. And Finn Ove for driving, and Lill Nora for the Norwegian lessons!
For my class we took a two day trip to Øystre Slidre, northwest of Oslo in the mountains. The purpose of the trip was to see a farming research center, hear about goat farming from one of the local farmers, and climb a mountain to see a receding glacier. Our class has focused on climate change and primarily how farmers deal with the changes, and how economic policies affect environmental changes. Our professor interviewed many farmers in this region for her dissertation, so she had us take a trip here. For free!! This good life can't possibly last, but I'm hoping for more field work like it.
For the goat farm part I didn't take pictures, which is strange when I think about it. I was and am such a fan of goats, and it's part of my cultural ancestry, but on this trip they were all milked by machines so that one farmer could handle 100 goats to milk twice daily. That was different from when I came here when I was seven and even the little girl younger than me could milk them by hand. It's changed a lot in just 20 years--they said only a few people milk by hand anymore. Even with the increased mechanization the most farmers in this area still have to have a side job in something else, often in tourism.
The next day we climbed a mountain--two hours up and a little less than two hours down. It got pretty steep on the way up, and we were in a cloud:
The didn't really warn us about how difficult it would be. But we all handled it well and took enough breaks to recover. At the top it was cloudy still:
But we had a brief moment of clarity:
Where you can see the glacier. It was hard for me to tell where it receded, but our prof. said there is a gray area around it where more ice used to be. I saw more strange animals, lemmings mostly, and some that like to pose in front of vistas:
The way down was easier, and the sun was out so it was much warmer.
It was difficult to watch my step and enjoy the view at the same time. So it is good that cameras were invented.
Nothing like a mountain to make you feel small:
I practiced my Norwegian with the Norwegian students (and some with the non-Norwegian students) on the way up and down. Simple stuff like "Jeg liker fjellklatring!" "I like mountain climbing!" Learning a language is much like climbing a mountain. It just takes longer.