I could smell smoke. Cigarettes, wood fires, weed. The music and rhythm of parties echoed up and down our street. A group of twenty young people gathered across the street. I leaned over the railing from my apartment balcony to see them. Smart phones twinkled in their hands. Their voices were animated, full of potential energy. Beers popped open. A boy tugged gently on the long, blond hair of a female companion. After a minute, they paired off and started snapping photos of themselves. I could imagine Facebook timelines refreshing all over the city, all over the world. Midsommers party-time!

Today, the sun rose at 3:54 a.m. Sunset won't come until 10:44 p.m. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. Here in Oslo, that adds up to 18 hours, 50 minutes, and 1 second of daylight. For the sake of comparison, my old hometown of Livermore will see a mere 14 hours, 51 minutes and 47 seconds of daylight today. This is one of the delights of living at the top of the world.

Last summer, Jonathan and I celebrated the solstice by hiking in the Oslomarka. We took the train out to Movatn station, an unmanned on the shores of a small lake. We disembarked at 10:15 p.m.; the train eased-then-flew off into the night. And we walked home.

(PHOTO: A nameless pond in the Oslomarka at 23:15 on 20 June 2012)

Our trail took us more than 22.5 km (14 mi) through the Norwegian forests.

p748480337-4.jpg p743547034-4.jpg

We followed the summer trail, mostly wide and graveled and easy to see, even in middle of the "night."




Well after midnight.


Will o' the wisp.

p968918079-4.jpg p587480083-4.jpg

Feeling pretty sleepy. A little cold. But very adventurous. We stopped briefly for breakfast--oatmeal and Swiss Miss.


I may have been halucinating due to sheer fatigue at this point, but I swear I could hear someone asking, "Is this Heaven?" And I could swear I heard Kevin Costner answer, "No. It's Iowa." I wanted to say, "No. It's Norway."


We ended our hike at Kjelsås Station, at the far south end of Maridalsvanet at 4:45 a.m., just in time to catch the first metro back into town.

"People think June 21 should be a seasonal-affected person's happiest day, but it's really joy mixed with trepidation. June 21 may be the beginning of summer, but each day will get a little shorter from then on." -- Pam Houston, A Little More About Me

This is how I feel about it, too. Trepid. If that's a word. And I feel it far more acutely now that I live in Norway. Now, I know just how dark it's gonna get.

But these summer days make it all worth it.