18 November 2010

Norway Is Big Sky Country

Before coming to Norway, when I thought of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen, I would think of three or four that stuck in memory. But now, being amazed by breathtaking sunsets and generally amazing skies (even at night) is so common to me that I have lost count.

During a recent conversation with a Tromsø local, I was discussing how incredible it was to have such amazing sunsets as a normal, common occurrence. To my amazement, it was explained to me that these are not just common, but predictable by season. Apparently, during the late summer months, when the sunsets start happening again, they paint the sky with bright pinks and magenta. Fall brings warm, golden sunsets like fire and the winter brings pale pastel pinks as a soft backdrop to the bright white snow. And it is true! I have been in Norway from August to the end of November and I certainly have seen the sunsets change with the season. When I first arrived, the sun was not setting until around 3am--which was really more of a twilight than a full on sunset.

But within a few days, we were getting much more sunset-like sunsets. Of course, I still had to wait till around ten o'clock pm for the sun to set, but it sure was worth it. I am so fascinated by how certain clouds are colored and others are not.

As the days went on, the sunsets got earlier, and also more intense. These were the sunsets the blew my mind. 

This particular sunset lasted about an hour. I was mesmerized. I took picture after picture, just trying to capture the sheer intensity of the colors. But no matter how many settings I tried, I just could not get the picture to look like the scene before my eyes.

The reflected colors on the water drove me wild! As a trained artist, I look at scenes like the one below and I try to imagine how I would create these colors. How I could blend the bluer water by the shore to the soft fuchsia in the center? Or is it even possible to recreate that pure glowing fire just along the mountain ridge?

The entire sky turned a deep magenta and fiery orange!! These sunsets took my breath away.

As summer turns to fall, the sunsets become a gold so bright it is like pure fire. The other amazing thing about being so far north is that the old adage of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west doesn't really apply here. During the summer, the sun moves across the sky in a slanted, oblong pattern, never setting, but slowly creeping closer to the mountains. In autumn, the sun drops behind them during the night, progressively moving farther below the mountains until it completely disappears by December, keeping the sky dark until February.

My parent's windows face directly west, and if you can note, the sunsets in the first pictures are so far to the right that it could be considered almost north. As you progress through the pictures, the sunsets have progressively moved left, or south. Now the sunsets are so far to to the south, that I have to open the window and lean out to the left to capture it on camera.

We got our first snow cover in October, and I was still able to get some great, fiery sunsets. The one above was taken from our kitchen window. But the one below was on a drive we took to a nearby island. This 'fire in sky' is just stunning--but do you see how it is more pastel? No more intense fuchsia.

Now that we are in the full swing of winter, the pastel sunsets are just lovely. The delicate pink and blue hues seem to be the perfect complement to the snow covered terrain.

Now this is "Big Sky Country." Amazing Norway!

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