Words & Photography by Gunn Kristin Monsen
Nothing clears my head as simplicity, beautiful flowers and the sound of the lake.
I have always been drawn to the lake. Growing up spending all my summers at my grandparents place where I could run to the lake and have a swim any time, has made it so natural. The feeling of heather scraping up my bare legs as I ran the few meters to our hidden place. The joy of the fresh water as I entered the lake to swim in the tiny bay with my friend and the amazing feeling of just existing in the moment. Luxury given by nature so generously and consumed and enjoyed totally natural as a child.
Living in Norway means for many Norwegians having the nature’s scenery as a backdrop to our daily life. The mountains, fjord woods, lakes and long coastline are our natural elements. We are so used to it and may forget sometimes the impact it has on our way of living and thinking. For me a hectic life with no stopping points to catch my breath and the growing feeling of losing the ability to be in the moment, led me to search for the feeling again of my childhood. The beautiful feeling of time just passing as the mind take a break. My surrounding were the same as in my childhood, after settling with my family in the house where I had my summer paradise. Still the nature had lost its effect on me. Being so consumed in the fast pace of my daily life I had no tools to recognize what was so close. My turning point was my first yoga class and starting to practice simple breathing techniques in my life. I discovered myself lying in bed, breathing and suddenly really hearing the sounds from the nature right outside my open bedroom window. The singing birds, the leaves rustling in the wind and the gentle sound of the lake so close to our house. It brought me back to my first winter in this house. My husband and I had just moved from the city to my childhood paradise after my grandparents. The winter was so cold, but still we kept the window in the bedroom slightly open for fresh air. My baby girl was in our bed getting breastfeed and then I heard it, the sound of the frozen lake, like a humming song. It was the ice moving and swaying and it all made a sound deep and wavy. So calming and relaxing. The most beautiful soundtrack to a precious moment. How could I have I had stopped listening to that?
Now summer is here and we have our windows wide open as often we can. Letting the sound of nature surround us, and be the soundtrack to our life. The water sounds different now with its merry sounds hitting the stones around the lake. We swim and take a trip in our old rowboat hunting for waterlilies, the most beautiful white flowers to be picked at just the right moment before it closes its crowns in the evening.
The stillness on the lake and the feeling of running you’re hand through the water as the boat slowly moves along. The seagulls watching us closely to protect their newly hatched babies. All so peaceful. At the house we move outside to live. We eat in the garden, and forget to check our watches in the light of long summer nights. This summer we have been blessed with endless warm sunny days, we feel these days in our bodies when the days of rain pouring down arrive. We are a strange people here in the north, spending so many days of the year inside waiting for these sometimes few, but precious summer days.
I must admit I still have a long way to go in letting myself really benefit from the amazing tool nature around me is as a calming source. I love my job and could do it all my awakening hours, but to do it well I need time to reflect, getting inspired and letting the stress go. I need time to be creative and to let myself be lost in the process. When the mind is filled with distracting thoughts this is really hard. So I slowly give myself more space and room to breathe, getting closer to nature again and letting the sound of the lake inspire me to a life with more presence in the moment. It’s not easy but I am blessed with the most beautiful surrounding to help me on my way.
My dream now is to build a studio in my garden. I have this image of the beautiful light from the lake streaming trough big windows in my studio, soft with a touch of blue tones from the water. Even closer to nature and its magic clearing my head time and again.
© all pictures Gunn Kristin Monsen
More of this essay in our NL2 magazine.