Travelling faster than human speed across time zones causes jetlag. That and a sore backside from sitting too long on a long-haul flight. But I musn’t complain: initially it took homo sapiens thousands of years to immigrate across the world, today we can do travel half-way across the globe in about 30 hours including ground travel and transfers. It is the 7 time zones between the one we left on the East coast of Australia, to the one in Northern Europe that is the killer, together with the dry, putrid air that comes from so many people stuck in a small space, the sore eyes and swelling legs that stay with you for a few days after you have again stepped foot on solid ground.
In this light, it is very hard to understand why traveling is equated with living, when all you want is to survive the situation you find yourself in to be back to where you came from. At best, it is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness, to be in this moment without longing for a future one.
The Mitchelton Pony Club in November. Photo: Mick. 2015.
It has been a week now. A whole week since we came home from Copenhagen. Home to our two gorgeous sons, our familiar house, our green garden, our neighbourhood in our suburb in Brisbane.
It was a good time to leave Copenhagen. October was mild and full of sunshine, blue skies, red ivy blazing on old brick buildings, brown chestnuts falling into the lakes and green treetops fading to yellow to brown. You would still see the odd person in shorts and singlet in the sunshine on Dronning Louises Bro. Granted, the sight was much rarer than in spring, when the Danes seemed to strip at the slightest ray of sunshine. But November was, well, rather Northern European November-like: Colder, wetter, grayer, windier, darker. Not quite cold enough for snow, not quite warm enough for comfort: just that miserable in-between. And our tenancy was up. Yes, it was time to leave.
Normally, the gap year is reserved for the young, fresh out of high school, ready to conquer the world. But like youth, the gap year really is wasted on the young.
For starters, at that age you have very limited means. This means you have to work a shitty job in a shitty café – or worse – to fund your fun year out. At 48, I have accumulated a certain amount of wealth from many years of working really hard and living quite frugally, as well as an amount of long service leave I could use sensibly for the purpose. I compare this with the time when I as a 16 year old also took a gap year to attend an English language course at Cardiff University for three months. I really had very limited means and no steady income. I am sure Cardiff would have been much more fun with dosh.
When the Danish summer is good, it really is very, very good. Many Danes go south for their summer holidays, to be sure to see the sun. This year July was cold and rainy, but just as people went back to work and school, August teased out the sun. We have had plenty of warm days with bright blue skies and lovely mild sunshine, perfect for a cycling trip.
Cycling in Copenhagen is not as much about fitness as it is about transport. Transport of almost anything. Photo: Mick. 2015.
As soon as the sun appears people gather to have a drink in the sun, not a licensed beer garden, but any public place. Photo: Mick. 2015.
When Danes complain they live in a nanny state, I often wonder what they mean. Compared to Australia, Danish governments are mere novices when it comes to make rules that take responsibility for our choices away from the individual.
Enough to scare the witches on their broomsticks. Photo: Mick. 2015.
When politicians talk about preservation of Danishness, I often wonder exactly what they mean. Perhaps Danishness is most clearly expressed through the traditional celebrations. The Danes do love a good celebration. At one point the calendar had so many holy days to celebrate that a whole host of them had to be combined into just one holiday, Store Bededag or Great Prayers Day. Far from all Danish celebrations are of the religious kind. Many, including those appropriated by Christendom, have their genesis in pre-Christian traditions and beliefs.
In spite of the rubbish, the cygnets are thriving on the Lakes. Photo: Mick. 2015.
Humans excel at figuring out ways to use the resources of Earth, to such a degree that some claim we are reaching peak availability of resources. Peak oil for example. As the human population continues to grow and as large populations in China, India and Brazil join the growing middle class, more and more pressure on the Earth’s resources will result. If everyone were to the live life of abundance like we do in the West, how long would Mother Earth be able to sustain us?
Six grey cygnets are out. One egg remains. Swans at the Lakes in Copenhagen. Photo: Lone. 2015.
The bird life on the Lakes in Copenhagen is surprisingly plentiful and diverse. Each time we walk around the lakes we notice new nests or – even better – new tiny baby birds in the coot’s nest, striped young ones on the back of great crested grebe or ducklings paddling with their mallard parents. If the weather is good, we stop to watch their funny antics and take photos. Today, mother swan was busy with six little grey cygnets, fussing to add feathers and other warm materials to the remaining grey-green egg. With spring comes new life, fresh and full of opportunities. It gives me moments of unbridled joy, following this happy addition to the abundant bird life in the middle of Copenhagen.
Actor Jens Albinus reads Paul Auster’s contribution to the ARK First Edition in the small rooms of the ARK Books shop a few streets from our apartment. Photo: Lone. 2015
I am grateful to my sister for introducing me to author Siri Hustvedt, and once I discovered this American author, there is no end to where I see her. Of Norwegian descent and speaking Norwegian as her first language, Hustvedt’s latest work, The Blazing World (2014), in a world first, was turned into a performance by Copenhagen theatre company, Mungo Park, currently performed at Avenue-T until June. Then, on Friday in my neighbourhood on Nørrebro, a small international bookshop, ARK Books, launched the Ark First Edition, a small, hand bound book, in only six copies, with two previously unpublished texts, one by Hustvedt and the other by her author husband Paul Auster. Like meeting old friends unexpectedly on the streets, really.
Liberation day celebrations on Rådhuspladsen, Copenhagen. 4 May 2015. Photo: Mick.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the Danish liberation from German occupation. The Germans capitulated on 4 May 1945 and Danes put candles in their normally blackened windows. All of Denmark? No, while the Germans left some days later, the Soviet troops came to the island of Bornholm, lying strategically in the Baltic sea below the southern tip of Sweden. It took nearly another year before Bornholm was liberated, but that is a different story.