Friday, April 17, 2009

Back in Santa Monica

It's good to walk the Santa Monica beach again, but the beach of nothern Sjaelland near Odde is still in my mind.
I watch pelicans circle, then plunge into the water, black against the orange sunset sky.
I look at all the seaweed washed up by recent storms.
The waves here are larger than those in Denmark--this ocean stretches to Asia. This sandy beach stretches flat and wide, while so many beaches in the world have only a foot or two of sand.
I can't see Orion at sunset any more because it's low in the sky when the sun goes down. After dark I look up and the Big Dipper is in the right place, no longer overhead. The North Star lies far to the north again, not close to vertical as it was near latitude 60.
This world: so much beauty and mystery.
What a privilege to travel around it, observe the variety of its wonders.
O YHWH, our maker, how majestic is your name in all the earth! -- Psalm 8:1
Herre, vor Herre! Hvor herligt er dit navn over hele jorden.

Friday, April 10, 2009

On the Beach in Sjaelland

We took a ferry from Aarhus to Odde in Sjaelland on a long narrow peninula and stopped the car to walk on the northern beach of a sea called Kattegat.

It was a warm, sunny day there--but brisk and windy later in Copenhagen.

On that beach were many large chunks of glassy flintstone in black and reddish brown. Material for axes and the tips of spears, I realized, and picked up several stones.

Later in the day we visited the National Museum of Denmark, where the prehistoric exhibit showed many flint tools and said the flint was found on northern beaches of Sjaelland.

Never have I seen knife-sharp flint on any other beach.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Under the North Star

This week I've been walking Danish beaches in Roskild (former capital of Denmark, originally a Viking town), Copenhagen (no beaches, just ports and canals), and Aalborg (near another old Viking town with the largest number of Viking gravestones).

After rain yesterday, the sky cleared last night and I looked up at the stars but couldn't find anything familiar.

"It's because of the full moon," I concluded, wondering what the snake-shaped stars above my head were.

Not finding Orion or anything familiar in the south, where the moon was rising, I turned to the north and saw two pairs of bright stars I didn't recognize.

Now really puzzled, I looked for the Big Dipper--and realized the snake above my head was its handle pointing directly south.

Then locating the North Star, I realized it was almost directly overhead--strange place for it to be.

I'm far north of my usual location in Los Angeles and southern Colorado--but far enough north for that star to be almost overhead? I forgot to bring a sky map with me, so I can't really get my bearings at night.

In our hotel on Aalborg's outskirts, the second floor rooms have no windows except two sky lights. At 1 am the moon shone directly in on my bed.

There was no way to close the window, so I lay there until it passed, wondering at the night sky here.