Hunting the Morning Light

I get out of bed and find something to wear. It is half past four in the morning, perhaps I had a nightmare. Some places sky is clear; I know I won’t sleep so I heat some water for tea. My two cats are asking for food, I find some more clothes. Tea is ready; I take a banana and yoghurt. Cold car, but it will be warmer. It will take some time before the best light appears. I find a spot for my first try.

Tromsøpalme

Tromsøpalme – Heracleum tromsoensis

There is a house which I plan to photograph. Perhaps morning light will be the right time? I turn the car to find out. The day is burrowing along the way. I try to capture it. A moose take a walk on the road, but disappears before I can take a photo.

Reflections

Reflections and crispy blue

A Sami camp made for tourists is nicely placed. I make an experiment with the camera, reduce shutter speed.

Sami Camp 1

Sami Camp

When I arrive at the farm with the old house, the magic light has gone. But I learn new things about the house, the light and how it pass through the day.

I love these mornings driving around while light arrives and nightmare disappears. Now it is time for breakfast at home.

Et stille lys om morgenen

Morgenstillhet. Alle i huset sover. Jeg har bråvåknet av noe, en drøm kanskje. Min kjære puster rolig ved siden av. Jeg kjenner den tvingende bevegelsen i kroppen – opp – opp. Det er bare å følge den, til badet, til kjøkkenet, kikke ut av vinduet. Lyset lurer over fjellkanten, dette kommer til å bli vakkert.
Vannkokeren piper, en kopp fra skapet og en tepose. Med minus 14 grader ute må man ikke tenke for mye. En muffins på kjøkkenbenken havner i hånda så er det ut i bilen. Kroppen stivner i kulda, det er bare å holde ut, bilen kommer til å bli varm.
Jeg kjører innover fjorden hvor jeg har kjørt så mange ganger. Så kjent, men likevel også ukjent. Her er sjøen skåret inn mellom bratte fjell, det er så vidt den har plass. Der jeg kommer fra er utsynet vidt og havet stort. Men jeg har lært at man kan finne skjønnheten i nye landskap gang på gang. I starten føltes det trangt, nærmest litt skremmende med fjellene som stanget deg i panna fra du løftet hodet av puta. Etter hvert lærte jeg å se de små lommene, pusterommene der stedet kunne folde seg ut – for meg.

Lyngsalpene

Soria Moria

Innerst i Kåfjord er det et slikt sted, Birtavarre. Der snur man seg og ser utover fjorden. Ute i fjordmunningen skimter man Lyngsalpene, sola har allerede lagt et skjær av rosa på dem.

Veien innover dalen går til fjellet. Gjennom Indre Kåfjorddal, en liten landsby i en fjellgryte. Innerst løper bakkene mot Goulasjavri, det store vannet som ble utbygd med denne anleggsveien. Halti, Finnlands høyeste fjell ligger både på norsk og finsk side. Vil man over Finnmarksvidda legger man turen nord for storfjellet. Jeg skal ikke dit i dag. Det står folk og gjør klar skuterne på parkeringsplassen innerst i dalen. Nysnøen har bidratt til kjørelyst, selv på en tidlig søndags morgen.

Kåfjord

En fjord mot verden

Jeg liker å kjøre denne dalen. Den minner meg på nomadisk liv, reindriftssamer som har kommet hver vår med flokkene sine. De bofaste som tar imot, ønsker velkommen. Reisen om høsten, fisket i fjorden, men også lengre ut, reiser til fiskerier sørover og nordover. Pulsen, ferdselen, møtene, adskillelsen.

På tur ut igjen har sola krøpet videre over toppene, jeg tenker på fjordisen som er brukket opp og ligger langs fjæra. Jeg sikter meg inn, ser hvor sola har ankommet. Lyset er gull og sølv. Kalde fingre nå, snart frokost. Dagen har begynt.

sjøis

Hvordan var nå det eventyret om isdronningen?

Me and the Holy Mountain

In an area where the amount of mountains is overwhelming it can’t be a surprise that they play an important role in our lives. The city of Tromsø is surrounded by mountains, and one of them plays a particular role. It is called Tromsdalstinden. Tind means peak, and it is one of the biggest with its 1238 meters above sea, lying near the center of the city.

tromsdalstind høst

Early autumn. Every time I cross the bridge I look right at the mountain.

Mountains can be the main reference point we relate to in our daily orientation. How is the weather, can we see the mountain today? It can contribute to create our living space both physically and mentally. Each year between 3000 to 5000 people write their names in a book on the top of this mountain. Several people have a goal to reach the peak’s top once a year. Tromsdalstinden is also a main subject for photography, laying there behind the city above all the houses. They echo each other, the city, the famous church and the mountain. Winter or summer, aurora, moonlight or midnight sun – this mountain is often situated in the photos. One photographer from the area one year took photos of the mountain every day and made an exhibition and a book afterwards, his name is Arvid Sveen .

For several years ago, people in Tromsø wanted to apply for the winter Olympics. In the program they would place the competition of the downhill slopes at Tromsdalstind. A story of Tromsdalstind as a Sami holy mountain appeared after a while. In Sami the name is Sálašoaivi, some of it means head, perhaps the main head in the area. The mountain had been a central part of the traditional Sami religion with offerings when passing by. It was a huge debate, but in Norway Sami stories is a valuable part of cultural heritage, even the intangible one. The downhill slope had to be moved. For many other reasons it never came to an application for the Olympics. But everyone now knows about the holy mountain.

tromsdalstind blå

Tromsdalstinden in December light

From my kitchen I see right at Tromsdalstinden. Every morning I look out and in some way say hallo. The world is the same, the mountains stand where they used to, my day can start and my life can continue as planned. I will not say this is the same for everyone, but nearly everybody relates to the mountains around us, talking about them, walking on them and looking at how the sun enter them. Many of us have our favorite ones. For now mine is Sálašoaivi.

Explore the Arctic Coast

I love these small houses along the coastline, often red or with traces of red. The oldest ones have no paint at all. And they are not all the same. Some places in Norway there is sort of a common style and architecture, but not in northern Norway. The main reason can be the Second World War. When the Germans withdrew from northern part of Troms and the County of Finnmark, they burned nearly everything, all houses, barns and boathouses disappeared. After the people was poor and they used what they could get, and just started to build the houses they needed.

naust Kvænangen

A small boathouse built after the Second World War

I try to find new angles when I take photos, but standing there it’s like they look right into my eyes, and they often happen to be placed right in the center of the photo. Slowly I try to move around them, perhaps there are new things to see?

In Norway it is not allowed to build huts or houses near the shore, the rule is to avoid the 100 meters closest to the sea. The red boathouses are popular to use as huts, standing so close to sea as possible. You can see some of them have got new facilities, their owners trying to avoid the rules.

morgenlys naust

Boathouse in early morning light

These boathouses are traces and echos of a long lasting culture of fisheries which made it possible to survive under these harsh conditions. Every man and some places also women fished for food and income. They took their boat out every day, rowed to the fishing area, fished and then rowed home again. The fish fed the people, in wintertime even their animals. You can see it as an underlying main pulse of these areas. Boats, boathouses, fish, rowing and sailing forth and back. Perhaps you can think of that when you see those boathouses lying there along the shore.

An ordinary Day in January

The weather has been as beautiful as it can be in the first month of the year up in the north. It is cold, from minus 10 to minus 20 degrees Celsius and clear sky. I try to catch it with my camera. There are so many moments through the day. The special morning light before the sun arrives, at sunrise of course and when the sun starts the sunset. It does not end there, evening light can be really special and for the clever ones, the northern light. I look outside all the time and try to plan where and when I will take photos because I can’t stay out all the time. I get exhausted and need to rest.

morninglight 1

Some days the colors are spectacular

Today I will go for the early morning light. Yesterday it was spectacular. I leave the warm bed, looking outside; take a decision – grab yoghurt and a cup of tea to go. North or south? In the south, there are some clouds, perhaps the red colors will arrive.

reindeer

Reindeer besides the road

I drive to one of my favorite places and when I arrive a reindeer shows up. I stop the car and suddenly several reindeers come out of the forest. They group themselves beside the road. I try to take photos without scaring them away. Not exceptionally photos, but nice to be there. After a while they return to the forest and I take a stroll to the sea.

But I realize that the red colors will not show up. Try some shots anyway, perhaps some photos are ok. My fingers are cold and I pack up and return home.

Later this day I’m going to pick up our friends little boy after school. I show up a bit early, going to the shore to take some quick photos. I get a glimpse of an animal in the sea, it is an otter. He disappears, but when I’m standing there he returns. I realize he’s hunting fish. The little animal comes and goes through the water, jumps up and down. I try to catch him for about five minutes; luckily I get some good shoots. A bit out of air I go for the boy and we drive home.

What should the moral be? I feel privileged. On regular daily trips I can see reindeer, moose, eagles, otters and a lot of birds, perhaps a little hare. It is really good to know these creatures are living besides us, showing up now and then. And it is not so easy to plan what to photograph. Neither the sun nor the animals do as I expect and that’s the best, all the surprises through a day. Tomorrow is another day and new possibilities to explore more.

 

The Norwegian Hike

When Sunday arrives many people find their way out in nature. So do we. Taking a walk and eating lunch outside is a Norwegian way of mindfulness. We love being outside. In the last twenty years it has also become normal to climb the highest mountains both summer and winter, especially in the north where there are a lot of mountains.

But a little hike can also do, happily with a little campfire to eat besides. This Sunday we did that. I texted a friend to ask if they were going anywhere. They were already on the go and we followed in their track. The day was winter clear; with the arctic light we are so fond of here in the north. A bit of snow covered the ground, after some rainy days it was hard, called “skare” – crust.ice

Following a path or walking along a small road is the easiest and most comfortable thing to do. Not to day. We found the way where our friends had parked and went along. A little stream flowed besides the road, and some ice had started to cover it. After a little while we had to leave the road, and walk over a frozen swamp. In my younger days I walked a lot in the mountains, young and strong we just went through any obstacle of vegetation or scree, which there are several places. Now it was long time since I left a road, and the crust wasn’t strong enough to carry us all the way. But I loved it. I went in the state of mind focusing to get through the area, all the other things in my head left. I can’t guarantee it, but I think this is one of the things with the Norwegian hike; we walk through our messy brains. When we arrive at our lunch stop, we also arrive at a place of greater silence.

mountain and the fjordAnd most central – we are very fond of the view. It is a well-known thing to everyone living in Norway. We seek higher places or places where we can see the ocean. Then we breathe a little easier.

It was nice meeting our friends. Minus 10 degrees Celsius made it a bit cold, and we missed our camp fire. We had too few matches, and our proudness got a break when we didn’t get the fire to burn. We decided to go home to eat some apple cake and drink another cup of coffee.

over the frozen swampThe dog ran around enjoying dog life, we strolled quietly back along our tracks. The sky was photogenic so I had to stop a lot.  It is difficult to capture the beauty of the sky, and the bit of sun that stroke over the mountain top.

I seldom use a tripod, even if my photographer in the house is telling me to do so. I love the easiness of just taking quick photos when passing along. This autumn I decided to buy a camera, just a tiny one called Cannon GSX. I am still trying to learn how to treat it. The camera on the phone is easier. But I will learn more. And in the dark period where the light is of most interest, it is necessary with this tripod. So I am going for it.a house by the sea

Muffins and Stuff

Blueberry muffin

Sometimes they get perfect

They are English, muffins. And I did really not grow up with them. They are not under my skin or learned by heart. They get too wet or too dry. It is easier to bake bread. We do that, at least some of us, in Norway, bake bread. I’m good at that, but muffins? And scones? Not so easy either.  I’m still trying. And my man, he has to eat them, him and his friends at work.  I like the blueberry muffin type best, and something named lunch muffins, salty ones with cheese ham and some vegetables. They were both a part of my “how to learn photography” project. I went to it like a former PhD- student.

Preparing a good meal is central for us and dinner is the highlight of the day. I and my man do not quite agree when the dinner should be, but I decide since I’m making it. We have grown up with some traditional Norwegian food, me and my companion. “Fish and potatoes” is a saying here. We still make dinner with cooked potatoes, and we like fish in several ways. One of them is cod, salted overnight. Slightly salted we call it, and we have bacon next to it and something we call “gulrotstuing”, carrot in white sauce (béchamel). But this kind of traditional normal food is not so photogenic, (not at all says my good friend from Finland), so I have no photos. We just eat. On the other side, when I invite friends, I make it more delicate. Tapas are a great thing, with focaccia.

Tapas

When my friends are visiting I try to dress up the food

Photographing food is a work of patience. After a while I understood that all the spectacular photos of food weren’t taken with a mobile camera.

Now, when Christmas is heading up, we eat this “lutefisk”. There is no English word, and we just love it. It is cod, treated with – lye – I think the English name is, and then washed in running water (sounds terrible, I know). We cook it in the oven and have a lot of stuff besides. The last years the dish has been very popular at restaurants in the town Tromsø. If you visit, you should give it a go, but perhaps be prepared to get used to it slowly.

Lutefisk

Norwegian delicacy, cod, potatoes, pea stew, carrot, bacon, mustard