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Spring, or Winter, or Both

Or maybe we should call it “sprinter”?

Anyway, most of the winter has been quite mild, with a few cold spells in between. Lately we have had some nice weather with clear skies, frost, and some gorgeous evening skies.

sunset

Last week I took a look in our garden, and was very surprised when I saw these popping up everywhere:

crocus      I cannot remember the crocuses being so early before, – the sun had not even returned to our house and garden after the winter months when this photo was taken.

When driving to visit family this week, we also came across lots of these beside the road:

tussilagoColtsfoot (Tussilago) is a sure sign of spring.

On returning home in late afternoon, we had time to stop and take some photos as the sun was setting.

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tree

boatsThere were thin crusts of ice floating about on the surface of this fjord.

A bit later we came across this frozen lake:

hornelen

I went out of the car for a better view. It was our last evening of this spell of cold, nice weather. No wind, and all was quiet….

skating… except for a faint sound of a single pair of steel blades on ice, the occasional booming sound of the ice settling into the colder evening temperatures, and also peals of laughter ringing across the lake from the far shore where a group of people had fun on the ice.

skating2I was just able to glimpse some figures moving over there, – one is sitting on a kicksled, and the others skating along.

Now it is raining again, and the ice is probably gone.

🙂

Eldrid

Lagre

Lagre

Lagre

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The Four Seasons Embroidered Frieze

This summer Kaffe Fassett’s exhibition “50 Years of Colour” has been on show at Hadeland Glassverk here in Norway. I finally got to see it during its last week, and it was indeed glorious. But I also got to see a lot more.

Since we had travelled a long way for this, and stayed a couple of nights, we also decided to visit the nearby Blaafarveverket in Modum, as we had heard they usually have some good exhibitions there during summer.

blaafarveverket

On arrival we were presented with the options of buying discounted tickets for any two of three sites, or all three. We thought that we had time for only two, and when hearing that one of them had some embroidery on show, we decided on that one, in addition to the main site, – which showed paintings in blue colours and also lots of blue glass and china, linked to the former production of cobalt mined in this area.

nyfossumbarn

The second site, Nyfossum, used to be the director’s dwelling. The old house and gardens are being restored to former glory, while the log barn in the photo above has been turned into a gallery to house the annual summer exhibitions.

What a surprise to step into the barn and discover that the embroidery on show was actually THE Four Seasons Frieze, also called the Life Frieze, made by Torvald Moseid during the years 1961-1977. I had read about it in some magazine many, many years ago, and I think I also may have glimpsed it on tv at some time, but had never seen it in “person”.

Impressive is an understatement. It is 62 meters long and 58 centimeters tall, and all in one long piece of linen fabric, embroidered all over, mostly using the couching stitch with yarn spun from wool from the double coated Norwegian tail-less breed Spelsau.

The whole piece was hung around the walls in three separate rooms and a hallway. It was not possible to see all of it at once, – you had to move from room to room.

 

Below are more photos showing details from the frieze. I have put them into four groups, one for each season.

For every season there was also a small text explaining some of the scenes. As they were only in Norwegian I have tried to write up an English version, but I fear the poetry of the texts got lost in translation.

springtext

Spring
Early spring starts with naked trees and dead leaves.

The break through is like a powerful gust of wind. Flocks of migratory birds are carried by the wind. They fly with their heads stretched out towards the spring, and the wind is playing in groves and thickets.

The woods turn green, and flowers spring. The tree of spring spreads its glory like an open fan.

Flowers and plants are grown and tended to. Two who are enthralled with each other stand in the middle of them, as if they are part of the flowers’ beauty and vitality.

 

 

summertextSummer

Summer starts with the big wedding feast. Flutes are played, and in the flowering fields there are undulating rows of dancers.

The summer bride has got her finery on. She has a classic profile, she is pale, and a myrtle garland is tied around her brow. The summer breeze is playing with her long hair. A knot of glorious summer flowers is tied behind her neck, and the wind blows her bridal veil into the wedding feast.

The wedding feast is like a flaming bonfire which turns into cascades of colourful midsummer plants.  The midsummer sun shines in bright red and yellow.

Midsummer blooming has a boundless lavishness of shapes and colours. Large flower bowls are opening up, and children are playing with pollen stamens.

 autumntextAutumn

The birds bring the first signs of autumn. They pull golden threads across the earth. The threads turn into light, golden veils which are pulled over the woods.

Nature closes down towards the winter time. Colours and shapes change the trees and plants. Large, brown, knotty plants with filled seed pods are contrasting with the blue.

 

wintertext

Winter

The winter opens with the stormy wind hitting the trees, and dead leaves in brown, yellow, and red are blown into the air.

Through winter cold and frost the death rider on his wild horse charges into the night. Nature is desolate and silent.

The wind plays with light snowflakes, and they are dancing around like pearl embroidered suns.

In the darkness of the winter night a flaming ice rose shines like the fiery northern lights, filled with hope.

 

Needless to say I was above impressed when walking along the frieze, trying to take it all in, – and even more so now, when working with the photos for this blog post, and I really got to study the details.

One cannot help but wonder about the drive and stamina that the artist would need to finish a piece like this. And even so, when comparing the beginning and the end, one can almost get the impression that he did not want it to end, as the sheer masses and density of the stitches are ever increasing towards the end.

Still, the artist has produced two similar works of art after this one. His second frieze, the 50 meters long Orfeus and Euridike (1978 – 1985), was also displayed at Nyfossum in the neighbouring rooms, and was almost as impressive as this one, although a bit different.  I took lots of photos here as well.

His third and last work of this scale, is the 70 meters long frieze based on Draumkvedet, a Norwegian medieval ballad often compared to Dante’s Divina Commedia.  This was finished in 1993. I should like to see that one as well, – maybe I will be so lucky some time in the future.

🙂

Eldrid

ps

“The Four Seasons” and “Orfeus and Euridike” will hang at Nyfossum till the middle of September this year. There are still two more weeks to get to see them.

It’s Cold

The weather has been cold and clear lately, – perfect for the growing of ice crystals.  The pictures below are a small part of the result of two ten minute photo safaris in our garden area, – one yesterday, and one today.  Choosing which pictures to show out of the two hundred or so, took much longer than shooting them.

iskrystallar1

The crystals have grown quite big, – they are almost like small plants with leaf rosettes, and they are everywhere on grassy areas.

iskrystallar1a

On the tree stump, a bit higher off the ground, they are not quite so big.

iskrystallar1b

The small heather plants are nearly covered by ice crystal “plants”.

iskrystallar1c

iskrystallar1d

They tend to “grow” in clumps.

iskrystallar2

As happened with the star crystals last week, I am reluctant to step on any of these wonders.

iskrystallar3

But it is impossible to move without doing so.

iskrystallar4

When stepping on to the grass, you can hear a faint sound, as if millions of miniature glasses fall and break.

iskrystallar5

… or like you are wading through heaps of tiny, tiny glass shards.

Below are some more photos, – I couldn’t stop myself  …   😉

iskrystallar6

iskrystallar7

iskrystallar8

iskrystallar9

iskrystallar10

iskrystallar11

iskrystallar15

iskrystallar14

iskrystallar16

On some of the photos I have tweaked the contrast quite a bit to better show off the fabulous patterns.

The last photo below, I also turned to gray scale. Some of the crystals are very, very thin and transparent.

iskrystallar-svkv

I hope all of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the winter time.

🙂

Eldrid

Falling Stars

The weather has been very good lately, – what snow there was around Christmas rained away, and this last week the weather has been cold and clear, with no snow on the ground.

As we drove home early this afternoon, the skies were gray, and we noticed a few tiny white specs falling through the air.

Walking from the garage to the house, I suddenly stopped short, exclaiming: There are stars on the ground!

stjerne8

I immediately put my bag down and got my camera out.

Please don’t step on any of them before I have taken some photos, I asked my husband.

stjerne5

Then I had to laugh at the impossibility of my own request; –  the stars were everywhere, and we could not move without stepping on several at a time.

stjerne2

There was more than enough both to photograph and to walk on.

stjerne1b

They were all over the wooden steps…

stjerne4

… and on the grass…

stjerne3

stjerne7

… and on the cold stones.

stjerne6

We do not often see snow crystals like this here, – most often the snow comes down in big flurries, – not tiny stars like these.

stjerne

We were lucky to spot them when we did. A few minutes later it was raining.

stjerne9

Just a few tiny drops, however, – and then we got a little bit more snow. But not stars this time.

Does walking on stars mean good luck?

I hope so.

🙂

Eldrid

Autumn by the Roadside

Both the calendar, the colours, the temperature, and the shorter days tell us that summer is definitely over, and autumn has arrived.

The strawberries we feasted on this summer are finished, but the plants are still a feast for the eyes each time I walk past.

Last week we had some very nice weather, so I brought my camera along as I went for a walk.

At this time of year, we are almost sure to have frost during the night as soon as the skies are clear.

It usually melts when the sun comes out, – at least in places where there are no shadows.

I like the look of the frosty-edged leaves.

It gives each leaf a definition we do not usually see.

These are almost like bird feathers.

The grass in this roadside ditch would not normally catch my eye. But on this day the frost is about to melt when I am passing, and the sun makes everything glitter and shine.

At the top, the ice has turned to water, but further down it is still partly ice.

Looks like something is growing inside the drops, but it is just the reflection of the grass below.

The three photos above are all details picked from the photo below:

Moving the camera closer into the ditch, it reveals treasure upon treasure.

Strings of pearls everywhere.

Further along, there are more interesting plants, like this moss….

.. and a mushroom in permanent shadow, where the ice has not melted since the first frosty night.

More glittering grass….

… and frosted ferns.

Inevitably, we got some more rain, and the beauties above are almost all gone.

This week I have been admiring the birch tree outside the window by my sewing space. Each day the leaves have turned a little more yellow.

We will probably have to cut it down soon, as, when it sowed itself many years ago,  it decided to grow too close to the house.

I kind of like the light filtering through the leaves, but I would not want it to come in through the windows on a stormy day.

🙂

Eldrid

Spring Report

Every year I take photos and post a report on the progress of spring on or around May 1st. This year we were travelling on May 1st, so the photos on that exact day shows the spring progress on Iceland, which varied a lot even within quite short distances.

The photo above was taken at Jökulsàrlon, a lagoon created by a retracting glacier. Icebergs break off the glacier and float round and round in the lagoon till they melt, as the opening is too narrow for them to float out into the ocean. They are quite a sight.

A few miles from the iceberg lagoon, we stopped to look at this old church, – the last one to be built in the old Icelandic manner with turf covered walls and roof. The dandelions were blooming on the roof, sheep and lambs were out and about nearby, so this was infinitely more spring like than the icebergs.

This primrose was blooming on one of the turfed walls of the olde houses in the photo below.

And this low bush similar to pussy willows was also in bloom:

I am not sure what the correct name of this bush would be.

As for the home scene, I will have to make do with before and after photos this year.

The two photos above were taken on April 26th before we left.

And here are the after photos of the same views….

… taken on May 6th.

We seem to have moved backwards into winter instead of forward to spring.

Eldrid

Hexagons Everywhere

On the last day of a record cold November month, I took my camera along as I walked the couple hundred metres to collect the mail.

The last weeks’ frost has almost covered the small river next to our house with thick ice. As long as there are a few small holes left, we can hear the water underneath making hollow, clucking sounds. When hearing the clucking through the walls, it sometimes sounds like there are people talking outside the house.

When the holes disappear, the river will be silent.

Hoar frost has been forming where there is a bit of humidity. It starts very small.

Then it grows outwards, and it looks like the grass straws have grown needles.

Looking closely at the tips of the “needles” one can see the hexagonal shapes that are beginning to grow, – and they are branching out.

In this part of the field the ice crystals have grown quite large, – it looks like the grass is covered in a layer of thin, white, butterfly wings.

A closer look reveals the hexagonal shapes, – layers and layers of them.

Lots and lots of variations and repetitions of the same form.

They are very thin and brittle….

… and reflect the light wonderfully.

When the full moon was shining last week, it glittered and sparkled everywhere when I was out walking in the late afternoons and early evenings.

But it is difficult to catch such glittering beauty on camera, – it is one of those things that are best when experienced “live”.

However, the details shown above, are hard to see without the help of a camera. 🙂

Eldrid