“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” is a tired but oh-so-true saying that expresses the reality of living near an ocean in a mountainous area of the world.
It rings true for so many situations! If you only go outside when the temperature is above a certain point … or the sun is shining … or there isn’t a chance of getting wet … or when weather conditions are perfect for your own comfort, whatever that may be! … well, you’d never go out!
I’ve written before about being fogged in, and my last post from a week ago was the last time we saw any real sunshine for more than a quick glimpse through the clouds. I do like the cloud and fog patterns, and I enjoy walking in the rain, but as the shorter days continue their march towards December 21st the constant clouds and rain of the past week have washed all traces of snow away a long time ago, and have brought a dreariness to the short days that even candles aren’t helping to eliminate. (And let’s face it, although wine *would* probably help, I can’t go through winter half-blitzed!)
But life has to continue, even if it’s dark … so, for example, if you’re a construction worker, you keep building. When I open the sliding door to let MacKenzie out I can hear the sounds of hammers and saws drifting up from the new house being constructed just down the hill from us. Today during my wet and windy walk I thought to take a photo of the workers, merrily building during the short, dark, and rainy days!
There are two workers in their bright orange rain suits; one is working on the roof, but the other one is behind the construction.
As much as I enjoy walking in the rain, I can’t imagine being outside working in it. I sure respect this country and their work ethic!
Yesterday was one of those “fog smoke” days that totally capture my attention and imagination – and make it almost impossible to work from home! I kept peeking out our front sliding doors with my camera to try and capture the changing scenery. The fjord and the air temperatures create such interesting “landscapes” in the sky – at 100 meters up, sometimes they’re above us, sometimes below us, and often all around us.
I posted photos and descriptions of this before when we lived on the side of Løvstakken and overlooked the southern Bergen valley and Nordåsvatnet. Sometimes it was a complete cloud cover below us; sometimes it was just a thinner type of mist advancing up the mountain and then receding. There’s also one post about being walled in by fog all day here in our little bit of heaven overlooking Lysøen. It’s spooky yet peaceful, claustrophobic yet beautiful, and tiring yet exhilarating – all at the same time.
But back to yesterday: my husband was up early; he said that the sky was blue when the sun began rising. When I got up about 8:30 we were almost totally fogged in – we could see a little blue behind our house/over the mountain to the east of us as the sun was burning off the fog. That “burn off” thinning continued for a bit, then the fog fought back and settled in again … and that battle went on all day.
It was gorgeous – especially the views to our left/the west, out over the islands towards the North Sea. Some of the fog patterns such as these make me feel as if I’m peering out of an airplane window flying above the clouds … but without the airplane engine noises from the other side of the window!
I “digitally stitched” a few shots together to try and capture the panoramic view (click each one for the larger image).
(I’ve also put images from the day in their own slideshow. I enjoy watching them scroll by!)
Oh – here’s one other photo: the view to the back of our house, looking out my home office window. The fall colors provide their own distraction!
My photos really do the experience no justice, and my words are completely inadequate … but if you use your imagination, maybe you can visualize it too?
Fellow expats: what are some of your favorite (or maybe “not-so-favorite”) nature moments from your new country?
Although early spring seemed promising, and we have had a few nice days over the last few months, for the most part it’s been a cold and rainy late spring/summer in the Bergen area.
You never know what the coastal climate and mountains will create. I do enjoy the energy I have in cool weather, the feel of drizzle on my face, and the sound of rain dripping outside my window while I’m sleeping – but enough is enough! I’m ready for some extensive warm weather and sunshine.
This was the forecast a couple weeks ago:
This was my view out my home office window all day today:
This has been my view out front across the fjord all day today:
Sigh. We’re in our own little fog-shrouded cocoon – I loved it when that happened to our townhouse on the side of Løvstakken, but it would pass fairly quickly. Today has been constant!
Please understand, I’m not really complaining … while watching the tour boats on the fjord sailing past Ole Bull’s villa, I’ve made the comment to friends and family that tourists spend a lot of money to travel to this part of the world to take in the sites and experiences that I have available if I sit on my bench just outside my sliding front door.
But Norwegian-Sea-fogged-in days like today do get to me after a while.
To end with a *little* sunshine … on July 6th Jan and I did get to enjoy a delayed 4th of July American Independence Day “let’s grill outside” celebration:
And this is our expected weekend weather:
Warm sunshine! Yay!
A busy few months of organizing and a frantic few weeks of packing … and tomorrow the movers come.
We’re moving from our home of not-quite five years – to a beautiful and modern place about half an hour away; downsizing a bit, eager for the next phase of life.
We’ve loved the views, location, neighbors, and way our combined furniture has “fit” this townhouse on the side of Løvstakken, but our friend we’ve been renting from needs to sell, and we can’t live with stairs anymore. Ah, the reality of post-surgery bodies. :/
I thought I’d share a few of my favorite views from our windows overlooking the southern Bergen valley and Nordåsvatnet. Such changing patterns in the sky, caused by mountains and water! Rainbows (the ones I caught on camera are here – most of them double) and the moon (here – there are a LOT; I sure like the moon!) have been shared … but I have a few other captured “OMG” moments that need to be posted.
Words really couldn’t express a physical response to the views; they need to be experienced and lived. I remember my Dad standing in our living room windows staring at the winter landscape almost every day of his month-long visit in December 2009/January 2010. I knew exactly what he was experiencing. I’ve felt it often too.
December 21, 2009 – 10:08 am
December 25, 2009 – 3:58 pm
December 21, 2010 – 11:50 am
The early winter moon, with fog-smoke hugging Nordåsvatnet. A different camera zoom with the second image produced two completely different views, one looking as if there was no light in the sky – but they were only 23 minutes apart. (The fog had started to rise by the time the second image was taken; soon it would overtake our community on the side of the mountain, and we couldn’t even see the houses across the street – an event that happens often.)
I was answering an email from my Mom in Iowa last night. She mentioned that the leaves there are past their fall beauty and that many are already on the ground.
That got me thinking about my area of the world, and that I needed to capture in words my impressions of this, my first Autumn season of change and color here in “my mountains” of the Mo Valley while it is still new to me.
When we came home from Italy on September 20th I was amazed at how quickly the fall colors had arrived and changed my landscape. The three weeks away had brought out the colors in the tree leaves, and I thought that, since I live so much further north now, it would be over quickly. But in my walks and drives in the valley and to my Norwegian classes an hour away, I can still see the colors of the season.
This morning, over a month after my first observation of Norway’s Fall season, Jan and I sat drinking our coffee while looking out the window. My email conversation with my Mom was on my mind, and I realized that there are really TWO seasons visible in the small space framed by my bedroom window. We’ve had wind and rain that have stripped many of the trees of their leaves, but there are still a few vivid yellows to be seen. Yes we are also past our peak overall, but living on the side of a mountain is much different compared to living in a more flat landscape. From our bedroom window I can see that about 100 yards up the mountain from those vivid yellows the trees are bare and they look lonely. And, in other higher mountains surrounding our valley, further up above the tree line the Autumn colors of September are gone, and it is early Winter.
This past Saturday – again while drinking coffee and looking at the mountains, our favorite time of the day together – Jan and I could see that snow was falling at the tops of the higher mountains. And so we did what any normal crazy people would do – we drove up to see that new dusting of snow at 1200 meters (about 3/4 of a very steep and twisting mile). (Edit – after reading this, Jan made the comment that normal crazy Norwegians would certainly not DRIVE up there, they’d go hiking …) By the time we went it was a little above freezing up there, so any new snow and the snow from a few days earlier was starting to disappear. The fog was moving in …
… and it was beautiful in a lonely way – many muted AND vivid shades of gray, tan, brown, and green.
There were icicles that were melting and falling. They were cold and crystal clear – you can drink the water in the mountains, it is so pure. MacKenzie was very curious about the melted water slithering underneath the ice, and enjoyed crunching on those that had fallen onto the gravel road. It was so silent and still, the sounds of her chewing were unnaturally loud and seemed an intrusion. The melting water under the icicles, on the other hand, was soothing and peaceful. Some of the icicles were on the mountain rocks, and some were over green moss – the effect was sparkling, even with the fog and no sunshine.
All of our senses come alive in such an environment!
From down in our valley, we could see the streaks of snow were gone by Sunday. And so I can see Winter arriving, then receding, all while I am experiencing Fall … and I keep observing and marveling.
As with most views and experiences in my new life, it is difficult to describe AND pictures don’t do it real justice. But the combination of “the sunny side of the mountain vs. the shady side” and “further up the mountain vs. down closer to the valley” creates an interesting topography of every aspect of the Autumn and Winter season, all at one time.
And it is another fascinating, surreal moment for this American girl who continues to fall in love with her new country.
I am really enjoying the location of our apartment here in Modalen. We have such privacy on the back side! Although we have other apartments on either side of us, their entrances are on the ends of our building. Our back entrance is the only door on that side of this long building-that-looks-like-a-home. It overlooks a wooded area leading up to the mountain.
It is very private – just our steps and the gravel driveway and a wire fence and the trees and the mountain.
I enjoy sitting on the back steps with Mac off and on throughout the day, especially when I am focused on my work for my company and can’t take the time to go for a real walk. Mac “does her business,” chases and brings back her ball for me to throw again, smells to see what animals have visited the night before, and sometimes lays down as if to say: “enough now; time for me to relax and sniff and listen and experience.”
That is usually my hint to do the same – well, at least just sit and listen and experience, I probably wouldn’t get much out of the sniffing part! – before heading back inside to continue my work.
But life isn’t just about sitting, and this pooch wouldn’t let me do that too often anyway! She and I head out for a walk most mornings. A day or two after moving in, I discovered a man-made gravel path that connects our community on the side of this mountain to a gravel/sand/rock pit located below us.
(Although Modalen is known for its hydroelectric capabilities now – they produce 10% of Bergen’s electricity, plus send power over the mountains to the eastern Norwegian area – since the 1920’s they have also been known for their excellent sand and rocks.)
Jan says it looks as if all the natural resources that can be safely excavated have been taken from this particular location, and now it seems to be an area that nature is slowly starting to reclaim.
It is the perfect playground for an active Labrador!
I throw the ball. Mac chases it down. But unlike the ball-action on the grass in the fields behind Patuxent Valley Middle School in Jessup, Maryland, USA or in other grassy areas here in Norway, this ball doesn’t go where expected. It hits a rock, or the side of the pit, and bounces in the other direction. And frequently, with my (lack of) aim, it ends up on top of the grassy area to the left of the pit. Or it bounces over the sand/gravel piles to the right and hides itself, waiting for her good nose to sniff it out.
Mac loves it! She seems to be in puppy heaven chasing that ball down, digging in the sand to bury and then find it again, splashing in the puddles that a recent rain left just for her, rolling in the clean sand/gravel, then dashing back to me to start the process all over again. Her tail wags often.
After she tires of ball chasing, a crystal clear creek that runs beside this pit grabs her attention. And although MacKenzie loves her ball, I think she has more fun with running into the creek and rearranging the natural dam of branches that have gotten lodged in a bend.
At first I told her it looked like they had probably been there all winter – or longer! – and to not get her hopes too high. But three weeks later, it looks like she might get them cleared, even if it takes all summer. Tugging, pulling, snorting … and tail REALLY wagging the entire time. I shouldn’t underestimate the power of an enthusiastic and very happy dog!
I just let her go at it, and stand and have my own personal moments of tail-wagging as I look up at the scenery around me, especially if it is a rainy day.
The beautiful, sunny days we have enjoyed have been such a delight, but our favorite times in this area seem to have been during the heavy spring mountain-rain moments. The creek is full, the puddles are inviting, and the sounds of the river and the waterfalls that surround us are better than a lot of the music I have ever played or heard. They might even rival a Tchaikovsky symphony, depending on my mood!
I cannot possibly soak it all in, but I let the rain drench me and come home soaking in another way.
We have never seen anyone in “our” pit since discovering it, except the one time we invited Jan to join us. I think of this as our own personal place – “Mac’s playground.”
But maybe I should also add “Cindi’s spot” too??