Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Different angles

Although the Nordfjord is wearing a rather chilly name, it is neither very nordic, compared to the rest of the Viking map, nor is it particularly chilly. Just the opposite: The first impression when you get to Olden, our destination for the day, is that of a mild, lush, fertile place.
And indeed, the whole province on Stryn is very frugal in Norwegian standards, forest culture, agriculture and livestock breeding are big here.
It only takes a closer look at the landscape to understand why that is: It is the lack of steepness, the gentle angle of the slopes that prevail, so no avalanche can ruin the crop, destroy the houses and kill the cattle. Moreover, the ground can retain the soil, accumulate and thrive. All that is missing in steep places like Geiranger where you have a hard time finding enough footing for a goat. It's all about the angle.

A totally different angle is offered for the participants of the exclusive helicopter glacier adventure. Flight conditions are just fine, so the lucky bunch takes off just after lunchtime and is rewarded with stunning and incomparable views of the Fjordlands below. For many it is the first time in a helicopter, so it's quite a breathtaking endeavor.
More down to Earth is the Olden Panorama Tour that leads high above the valleys for a gorgeous look-down on a small ship and tiny people.

Even closer to things at hand is a stroll in town. For some it is a welcome shopping opportunity after the 1st of May, but a walk in the even, gentle valley brings you back to a quieter pace after the excitements of yesterday. Especially the two churches are pretty, both entirely made of wood. The older one features paintings from the 14th century that look as if they just have been left behind, just like the indicator panel for the psalms. The feel of abandon seems to tell us about time and the momentariness of life. 
Time on a different scale is the subject of the Briksdal Glacier Hike. The bus ride leads along the emerald-green Olden Lake and up the valley to Briksdal, departure point for the walk. But whereas the glacier at Bondhus was positively receding and displayed a one-way process of nature, we see here wooden signs indicating the glacier front over the centuries. And to our surprise we see, that the movement of the glacier is quite heterogeneous, it has moved back and forth. Clearly, it is receding at the moment, fractured like a set of giant ice cubes, but after what we've learned here we do expect it to regrow again. When? Who knows...Time flows on many different scales - it's just a question of angle.
The last new angle of today is certainly the one from inside the water...while FRAM is at the pier, our safety officer trains the seamen in how to salvage persons who went over board. The specially equipped MOB-boats are fast, do not have a blade propulsion and are extremely maneuverable. So the recovery of the "victim" is a fast thing. Still, seeing the ship from inside the fjord, imagining a real emergency situation, makes you think. And suddenly the many, many exercises, which the crew absolves regularly, make perfect sense.
Sometimes it just takes a fresh angle...