Excursions and Sightings

We leave Humlegaarden tomorrow. Farewell to Humlebaek and the Baltic Sea, the chaotic doctors and cancer cohorts, the blue herons and the bathrobe people*….  and i just was thinking… what kind of a tourist would I be if I didn’t make a post about some of the local sites before I leave here?  I suppose I could write about the radiology waiting room at the University Hospital in Odensa, or how to get from the dungeon to the penthouse in a single night at Riggshospitalet in Copenhagen. Right. Not exactly blog material.  OTOH, there are a few local tourist-y things I can share…

Every morning we walk down by the Baltic Sea, each day walking a bit further.  Last Sunday, we took an extra excursion and walked a bit further to the Louisiana Art Museum, which we had been hearing about.  The grounds are beautiful, and overlook the Baltic Sea, great picnic and “just hang out here in the sun” spaces (when there is sun!)  The art museum itself was nice – not being a big fan of Andy Warhol, the main exhibit, I was not overly enthused, but there were a couple of other nice exhibits.  My favorites: a series of photographs of missing monuments, photos of the places they used to be, with written descriptions by people who remembered them; and a photographic narrative in which the artist found an address book and recorded his experience contacting each person listed in the book in order to find out about the owner… that was interesting!   The only photo I have from the Louisiana excursion is the one to the left here….  happy rocks in the garden.
Carmelite Monastery
Helsingor is about 7 kilometers away from Humlebaek – an easy ride on the bicycle on a sunny day if you are feeling strong, or a quick 10 minute ride on the bus if its raining, and you’re not quite up to a bicycle.  The Carmelite Monastery and St Mary’s Church is a medieval monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Only the west wing of the monastery remains, and we were able to walk through the corridors and visit the chapel.  Beautiful – some photos here.

Kronborg CastleCastles are plentiful in Denmark, and I reckon I couldn’t leave without visiting at least one. The Kronborg Castle in Helsingor dates back to the 14th century, and besides being an actual castle, it is the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Located on the sea, and surrounded by moats, the grounds are beautiful.  The castle is large, and it takes longer than the time I had to wander through the entire thing, but I did get to see the royal chambers and palace ballroom, the chapel, and the (very dark and scary) casemates, otherwise known by me as the creepy, dark, dank dungeon.  You can see a few photos of the castle here, as well as a view of the sea from the grounds.

Speaking of the sea, and walks along it, I can’t end my (admittedly limited) tourist blog without mentioning the many sightings of a local species that we call *The Bathrobe People.  Yes, really.  They come to the sea, every morning, no matter how cold.  They arrive at the shore, every morning, in bathrobes. Red, yellow, blue, black, white.  Big, thick bathrobes.  They come in cars, on bicycles, by foot.  They carry a towel over one shoulder, and on their feet are sandals, or thongs, or sometime…. dress shoes.  It does not matter how cold, or how warm.  Every morning… rain, wind, sun.  They walk to the enBathrobe Peopled of a dock, disrobe (sometimes a bathing suit underneath, sometimes not) and jump into the sea. Just for a dip!  Rarely do they stay longer than a couple of minutes.  Some will swim, but mostly they are in, fully submerged, then out.  Dry off, don the bathrobe, and off they go (Presumably home for hot coffee!!)

Hardy folks, these Humlebaek Danes. I wonder if they do this all through the winter too?  Brrrr….. Don’t think I want to stay to find out.

So, we’re off.. Copenhagen to Paris tomorrow, where (so the weather report says) it is warmer and sunnier….


Circle of Stones

Circle of StonesThere is a small path that leads into the center of a magic forest, a patch of Guardiansancient trees next to the beach. In the center of the magic forest is a circle of stones.  The trees are guardians here, and I am certain they can pull up roots and walk around when no one is looking. If you look closely, you can also see spirits in the stones. The light is magical too, and there is a sort of glow that you can only really see if you look sideways.  The earth is warm and moist, and if you walk barefoot here after a long night of rain and thunderstorms, you might want to watch the ground for gooey brown slugs that blend into the earth.  Dunno if they are magic, but i am not fond of stepping my naked feet on one. Glow

You can see more photos if you click here.

A Guardian We all need a bit of magic in our lives…  to let fall away everything we think we know, and open to unlimited possibilities is to allow a bit of magic to transform us, and to really begin to see in new ways.

“When we have the certain belief that our view of the world is the way things really are, we give tacit permission to ourselves to stop investigating life.”  – Brandon Bays

I say… Investigate Life! Be Curious!  and Today, maybe for just a moment, suspend all your beliefs, and see what kind of magic the world offers up.  You never know, you may just find a sacred circle of stones in your own magic forest.  🙂

Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 11:07  Comments (3)  
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Bicycle Yoga

This morning the sea is dark gray and opaque, with rough white capping waves.  At the beach, the wind and the waves create a comforting white noise that those (theoretically relaxing) noise machines can never truly imitate.  The skies are gray, with random raindrops…. very unlike the bright blue skies and warm sun of yesterday.
Last afternoon, I borrowed a bicycle, and rode into Helsingor, a ride of about 8 kilometers.  It was a beautiful ride, along the coast, through tiny beach towns.  Many bicyclists, people walking dogs, sunbathing on the beach, swimming, picnicking, the deep blue water speckled with white sail boats, and closer to Helsingor, the ferries.  bicycle round-a-boutThis is a great place for bicycles….  not only are there pedestrian paths, but there are bicycle paths everywhere (even in the round-a-bouts!)  It is a very accepted and common mode of transportation here.

And can I just say….. Granny bicycles rock!  Ok, you hard-core bicyclists out there may disagree, but I think the old “Granny style” bikes (which is what Sven, a patient here, called it, as I was picking out a bike that would fit me) are definitely the way to go.  You know the kind… picture the bicycle ridden by wicked old Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz, basket and all.

Ok, so it probably means I am a pleasure bicyclist and not a sport bicyclist, but I really like sitting upright: spine long, heart open, smile on my face. It’s gotta be better on the body than being all hunched over, intent on the destination, forgetting about the journey.

And that’s the joy of it – not only is the bicycle something to get me from point A to point B, but it is also something that allows me to enjoy the journey… To see the sea, to smell the air, to open to all sensations…  feeling the breath, completely in the moment, this too is yoga.

Yoga is not all about asanas, although I love asana practice. Asana practice, hatha yoga, is invaluable for learning how to be in the body, how to be in the moment, how to be present with breath, and to stay centered in the midst of stress and chaos.  When you learn the focus of hatha yoga, you begin to see yoga in all of your life….

like on a bicycle.  Of course any activity can be yoga, or not.  I can take that same ride, and be lost in thought… thinking about yesterday,  and wondering how to make things happen in the future, and not be present to the air, or the sea.  That would be good too, and it would be healthy for the body, and good exercise, but it’s not yoga.

My preference is to take that same ride, and feel the air on my skin, the breath in my body, smell the sea and ride right out of time…. letting it become a meditation, a grounding activity, connecting me back to source.   Life giving, life affirming yoga.

When I can do that, on a bicycle, in an asana, in a sitting meditation on the beach, with joy, then I can also remember to ground and center even in the chaos and stress and pain that life may bring.

A street in Helsingor

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 05:39  Comments (2)  
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Near the Baltic Sea

Sunday, August 8th, 1:30pm Denmark time ~

The rain came today.  Dark gray skies offer up a steady downpour, much like the rains in the Pacific Northwest. The past few days were beautiful, warm days, intermittently overcast with delicious breaks of sun.  The quality of light here is different…. perhaps because we are so far north? Or just different than what I am used to… I have been searching for a word to describe it, but have not been able to settle on one.  “Soft” is a word that comes to mind, and I realize that maybe the quality of light is more a feeling than a visual.  I did try to capture it in photos, to no avail.

The Baltic Sea is a 5 minute walk from the clinic here, and looking out The Baltic Seafrom the beach you can see Sweden, and the ferries and sailing boats that traverse the waters from here to there and in between.  The water is fairly warm; someone mentioned it was 18 or 19 degrees celsius (around 66 degrees F).  Many local people jump in for a swim early in the morning, and again in the evening. I haven’t been in yet, but it occurs to me a rainy day would be a good day to test it out.

Summer House with Thatched RoofThis morning, before the rain, we walked down a road that runs along the coast, lined with what must be summer cottages. They are so sweet, with windows that open wide to the sea air, and thatched roofs where birds peck around, presumably for morning insects.  Joggers and bicyclists passed by us, as we walked slowly and meditatively.

The days since we arrived here have been very full, and it is easy to lose track of the perspective of time. We’ve only been here 4 days, and already it feels much longer. There is a sense that time might pass too quickly here, and yet at the same time, the moments are so full that there can be no thought of the future, and what will happen next.  Those decisions will come when it is time…. my mantra since all of this began is ‘one day at a time’, and often I find myself shifting the focus to living even one moment, one breath at a time….

I want to write, to tell a story here.  Not Tanza’s story, for that is hers to tell, but a story of my experience here: what i am coming to know in the presence of this healing place, in the role of caregiver, in the connection to source and family and life…

The words, though, are not here yet. Perhaps I am still too close to the experience. I remember some writer somewhere, sometime, saying that you must have distance to write truly about a place, and maybe that is true for experience as well.

For now, I will keep it simple, share what there is to share in the moment.

I do know this – it is good to be in a nourishing and nurturing healing environment.  Imagine if hospitals routinely put more emphasis on treating the person rather than the disease: on helping a patient understand their treatments and meds, and giving them more personal responsibility for their own healing, on offering high quality food and conversation and connection, and allowing them to move and walk and participate in their own healing rather than confining them to a bed with wires and tubes and distracted personel who forget to take the time to listen.

Is it such a novel concept to care for the whole person?

It is a gift to be here, in so many ways, and I know without question that this is a healing space for Tanza, and for me, and for all who are connected to her, no matter what may come of it.  It is good to wake every morning, here, and alive.  It is good to feel the power and preciousness of life, and to take joy in the little things, and celebrate the beauty of each day…

Here is my wish for you, and for everyone: That you celebrate each moment, knowing that you yourself are a gift to this world. You (and that is every single “you”!) bring something to this world that no other person can bring…. celebrate that gift, whatever it is! Know your beauty, feel your connection to the earth, to this life, to our source, and remember, whatever you do….

Laugh, and feel the Joy!

That, my friends, is Real Yoga.


More Baltic Sea photos are here

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 12:54  Comments (1)  
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