Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Small Tortoiseshell/Nældens Takvinge

Aglais urticae

Small Tortoiseshell, here from a church yard in Himmerland

Small tortoise shell is one of the first butterflies we see each spring . It is Denmark's National butterfly, and it is wellknown and common all over the country. The frequency  changes from year to year dependent on migrations.

Small tortoiseshell, Underside

Small tortoiseshell (wing span 46-53 mm)  is easy to recognize with its clear colours and the white spot on the front wing. The variation is modest, but the three black spots on the front wing might be small or miss completely in very rare cases. Some rare specimen have white-yellowish colours instead of the usual clear brick red. The flying period is from last June until October in one or two generations and again in March-June after overwintering.Its habitat is everywhere, where nettle grows, especially at buildings - and the larvae's fodder-plant is nettle. (Urtica).

Small tortoiseshell and a bumble bee
The butterfly roams about and is seen everywhere. It overwinters as a grown-up butterfly in hollow trees, caves, cellars and not at least in un-heated rooms in houses. The flight is quick and whirring, and the  mating couple are often seen flying close together high up in a spirale flight. The males are territorial, since thy from their resting places fly up against all disturbing insects or other passing animals. Both sexes seek to various flowers, not at least to Hemp agrimony, Thistle and Field scabious or to Asters, Buddleias and flowering herbs in gardens. The tortoiseshell is also attracted to fermenting windfalls.

Flying tortoiseshell  and Buddleia
photo: grethe bachmann 

Spring Equinox/ Forårsjævndøgn

After spring equinox we are closer to the light period of the year and the lovely light summer nights. The days grow longer and on the 7. May begin the light summer nights - which last all too short.  The longest day is already on 21 June, when it is summer solstice. Some wise men say that our division of the day and night goes back to the old Babylonians who lived in the present Iraque about 4000 years ago.
Spring equinox in various places: 
The March equinox marks the first day of various calendars including the Iranian calendar. The ancient Iranian new year's festival of Nowruz can be celebrated March 20 or March 21. According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people. It is also a holiday for Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, Zanzibar, Albania and various countries of Central Asia as well as among the Kurds. 
Sham el Nessim  was an ancient Egyptian holiday, which can be traced back as far as 2700 B.C. It is still one of the public holidays in Egypt. Sometime during Egypt's Christian period (c. 200-639) the date moved to Easter Monday, but before then it coincided with the vernal equinox. In many Arab countries, Mother's Day is celebrated on the March equinox.
The Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (7 times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon.The Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is March 21; however, as the Eastern Orthodox churches use older Julian calendar, while the Western Churches use the Gregorian calendar,both of which designate March 21 as the equinox, the actual date of Easter differs. The earliest possible Easter date in any year is therefore March 22 on each calendar. The latest possible Easter date in any year is April 25.

Modern culture:  World Storytelling Day is a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling, celebrated every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere.In Annapolis, Maryland in the United States boatyard employees and sailboat owners celebrate the spring equinox with the Burning Of The Socks festival. Traditionally, the boating community wears socks only during the winter. These are burned at the approach of warmer weather, which brings more customers and work to the area. Officially, nobody then wears socks until the next equinox. Earth day was initially celebrated on March 21, 1970, the equinox day. It is currently celebrated in various countries on April 22.

photo: grethe bachmann

Spring and Easter Dishes

Danish Caviar and Filthy Eggs
Nine Cabbage
lumpsucker caviar on blinis
It is not real spring until the first serving of lump-sucker eggs arrives at the kitchen table with a scent from the fresh salten sea. The fish which delivers this special popular spring dish is  ugly  - and it is incredible that it is able to bring that good tastiness to a dish. The meat of the fish is clotted, but the eggs are delicious. The lumpsucker eggs, Denmark's Pink Caviar and Easter go well together. The egg is one of the Easter's strong symbols. 

Lumpsucker caviar is often served upon freshly baked blinis and mixed with creme fraiche and red onion. The fine pink caviar can also be served in a cut avocado, decorated with creme fraiche and chervil. To serve the caviar  together with meat is a refined contrast between sea and land. Green asparagus with lumpsucker caviar is another fine Easter dish.

Skidne Æg with Mustard Sauce
Mother Hen and Easter chickens

Another traditional old Danish Easter dish is Skidne Æg (actually meaning Filthy Eggs!); they are boiled eggs served in a mustard sauce (fish mustard), decorated with cress, a simple and good dish on the Easter brunch table. Skidne æg tastes especially good together with smoked ham and a good porse-snaps.That's a real spring and Easter dish.

Nine Cabbage:

Easter food was marked by eggs and by the healthy and green food. In old descriptions are told that you had to eat an apple on Easter Morning - on an empty stomach. And the apple might be followed by a snaps! The snaps-apple had to counteract illness like backache and alike in the year to come. 
Nine Cabbage. Among the traditional Easter dishes was the popular nine-cabbage, a cabbage soup made from nine various cabbages. This healthy soup was eaten on Maunday Thursday - also good for the health. If you eat "nine cabbage" it might heal different disabilities in the year to come like headache, stomach pain and back pain. If there was not enough cabbage to choose from, then it was okay to use other green food, like nettle-leaves etc.  
Porridge and Eggs. Rye flour-porridge is mentioned as a dish on Good Friday -and Skidne æg ( Filthy eggs) on Easter Sunday or Easter Saturday.  Easter Saturday was also named Skidtlørdag or Skiden lørdag (Filthy Saturday), because it was the washing day. Another name Stumpelørdag ( short Saturday) showed that the day was too short for all the things people had to do before the Easter Sunday. Today Skidne æg is a common course, and as a counterpart to the Christmas-traditions many families have an Easter-Lunch, where egg-dishes and roast lamb are commonly represented.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Certain Sign of Spring!

The very first sign of spring. The stork came to Denmark yesterday!

photo Borris, Jutland 2008: grethe bachmann

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Children Say.......

Japan Cherry

I heard about the earthquake in Japan this morning, and recently we have just witnessed the earthquake in Christchurch in New Zealand and read Joan's posts about it.  It seems that the tsunami from the Japan earthquake means a great danger to the coasts of the Pacific. I hope people can get into safety. 
It is like our blue planete is stressed. I  needed to stress off myself. Then I saw Teresa's post with a video clip of Monty Python, which was hilariously funny. A good idea.
There is storm and rain outside today. The waterstriped windows make it dark inside, and I have had light in all my lamps this afternoon. Tomorrow comes the sun.

Well, I found some funny little  remarks from children. 
(translated from Danish).    


What children say :

Grandma told that when she was little, the girls had to sit with their legs together. Today are people more relaxed, it doesn't matter if you wave a little with your abdomen.

My little brother once asked me what happens when we die. I told him that we'll be buried under a heap of earth, and that the worms will eat our bodies. I think I should have told him the truth. That most of us end up in Hell and burn forever, but I wouldn't make him sorry.

An Old Folks Home is a place, where you keep old people and threaten them to share a room with someone they don't like. They get medicines and hams and each Saturday the have a cake with raisins.
(Lena 5 years)

Eldercare is something the old people have to get used to whatever they like it or not.
(Anna 8 years)

The best thing I like about granddad is that he is himself and does not pretend to be some normal person.
(Per-Ole 6 years)

If the old people could get children that would not be so good. The Old Folks Homes are overloaded already, and imagine, if there were lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren there too. 
(Johannes  8 years)

God owns the sun. He turns it off in the night in order to save the power supply.
(Nicole 5 years)

Now there is an ozone hole in the sky. Then God's floor is no longer airtight, and this can be a problem.
(Mikkel 10 years)

If you dont want to be married anymore, because your husband maybe is more stupid than you thought, then you can be separated as friends.
(7 year old).

A mother-in-law is the punishment you'll have to take if you marry a person you don't know.
(Poul 7 years)

In the old days they thought that the stork came with the babies.Now they have changed into more modern methods.

In the old days were the sex roles not yet invented. The man did not know that the ladies were just as much worth. Today they are given their mother's milk with teaspoons.

When you get married, you give each other a promise of silence. If you do not keep it, you'll get divorced, and then you'll have to share the lamps and the knives, and usually you do not agree who will get the children. Then you'll have to go to a stock broker. He'll decide that one should have the children, the other will get an extra dinner table.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


God is not very courteous. When he had to give the woman her wrinkles, he might at least have placed them under the soles of her feet.

Ninon de Lenclos. (1620-1705)

Collage of Cattle and Horses for Jack!

Hello Jack! I've taken a collage from my post on the Denmark-blog for you as a comfort in your troubled hours with your bad left knee.  You love cattle and horses and you cannot be with your cattle and horses right now, so this is for you in your ranch and on Sage and Meadow!!

photo: grethe bachmann. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Hald Sø and Dollerup Bakker, Viborg, Mid Jutland

My dear brother Kai  took a photo of me at Hald in September 1999. See the tower in the background.

 The landscape at Hald Sø and Dollerup Bakker is one of the most lovely places I know. I have been there so often, also because it is not too far away for a day's tour out - and I have now collected some photos from both summer and autumn trips.

Hald sø is one of the deepest lakes in Denmark and there are 12 fish-species living in the lake. A special attraction for the sportsfisher is the sea trout. There is also a rich bird life, at the lake breed Great Crested Grebe, Grey Wagtail and King Fisher, and in the winter comes the Dipper. The Osprey visits the place during migrations and Common Merganser is resting here in winter. In the forests are among many other birds Black Woodpecker, Hawfinch and Mistle Trush.

plucking cowberry

The Raven

Along the slopes of the lake on the Inderø are 300 year old beeches. In the forest floor grows among others Wavy Hairgrass together with May Lily, Hairy Wood-rush and White Anemone. Here at Hald is also a beautiful  oak wood  (Hald Ege) with 200-300 year-old crooked oak trees. Many trees are hollow and they create a perfect home for hole-brooding birds. In the open places in Hald Ege grow blueberry, cowberry and heather. In the listed heath area in Dollerup Bakker are crowberry, heather and sparse juniper bushes. From the top of the top of the heather hills is a magnificent view across the landscape with the lake down below. A part of the heath is a rest of the old Jutland heath (Alheden). In order to keep the heath open trees are removed before they grow big. There are traces from the old  Army Road/Oxen road (Hærvejen)  at Mostgård bæk (brook) in the shape of an old sunken road where a stony ford lead across the water. The sunken roads often came into existence, where many horsemen and heavy wagons used the same wheel tracks down slopes to fords and bridges. The loose earth was then brought downwards with the rain, and the road grew gradually several meters deep. North of the brook is a ravine called Kapeldalen; the name refers to a chapel  which stood here in the Middle Ages by a sacred spring and a resting place along the Army road.

Five Manors at Hald sø.
From the early Middle Ages was a manor here at Hald sø. The present Hald is the fifth in a row. The first Hald lies now as a castle bank, Brattingsborg, from the 1300s. The second Hald was the famous Niels Bugge's fortificated castle, and it lies as a circular plan opposite Niels Bugge's Kro (Inn and Restaurant).  The third Hald was built by the powerful Viborg-bishop Jørgen Friis in the 1500s, it lies as a ruin with the rest of a tower on a land tongue in the lake. The fourth Hald was built on 1703. Here is now a park and only two white pavillons are the left-over from this manor. The present Hald was built in 1789. The name is Hald Hovedgård and it is today used as am writers-and translation-center. In the old barn is a museum with an exhibition  of the nature and history of the district. In a stable building is a Nature education center.

Dollerup Bæk is a small brook, but it is an important water supply for the lake and for the large sea trouts. the water is clear and here grows Water cress and  Water crowfoot. a small frail wooden bridge leads across the water. a flock of goats are grazing in the fine soft grass under the shadows of some beautiful trees. A Common Blue butterfly is seen. And a buzzard.

Some sweet horses stand by the road. they are curious and would like to talk. A little girl and her father on bikes are passers by. Maybe they would like to talk. the little girl is all joy. This horse is a friendly companion. She'll probably again pester her father when they come home. the only thing I want for my birthday is a horse....! just a guess, I don't know this little girl, but I'm sure it is a good guess! 

The  gravel road, which is also a passage for cars, although narrow, passes the horses and the brook up in a wonderful landscape at Testrupvej with green hills and another great view  down to Hald sø.  The weather is mild and sunny, and it has been a good day.    

photo Hald and Dollerup Summer and Autumn 1999/2006/2007/2008/2009: grethe bachmann. 
photo Hald Sø 1999: Kai Bachmann Møller