Norwegian Wood

By: Sarah Fuchs

It is a cold winter morning in Amsterdam, and I find myself nostalgic for warmer summer days. Days when a bright sun and warm July winds made it easier to deal with the stillness of everyday life during the pandemic. Amsterdam is my home, but Oslo is the place I grew up. It is the place I return to every summer season so that I can fill up on fresh mountain air and days that never turn to night.

Nature has been of particular importance for me this year as the pandemic has ensured I have more free time than I would have ever granted myself. Like so many others, the new year forced me to slow down and sit with myself more. I had to reflect on what it was that I had been running towards before. Was I doing everything for the right reasons?

During spring, when the virus was on the rise, I was living in Seoul, South Korea. The mountains of Seoul became my refuge then, as the city closed its doors for visitors. Here in Amsterdam, I walk the city parks and alongside the picturesque canals. But neither Seoul nor Amsterdam can compare to the Oslo woods. And oh, how I miss those woods.

Norway is famous for its nature. Whenever I travel, I hear people voice their dreams of seeing our fjords, our northern lights. By law, we have the freedom to roam (yes, this is actual law). The law allows anyone to access both public and private land, lakes, and rivers for recreational use. You can hang up your hammock or put up your tent for the night as long as you show consideration to the people, plants, and animals around you.

The Norwegian nature is raw, it is its own master, and when you walk its paths, you are its guest. Even in the woods closest to Oslo, the country’s biggest city, I often walk for hours without meeting a single person. I remember this one time I had a friend visiting from Los Angeles, and in true Norwegian spirit, I took him for a Sunday hike in the forest. To his surprise, we walked in silence, and those we passed walked in silence too. For many Norwegians, walking in the woods is something almost spiritual, like medicine. It is an integral part of our lives.

On this cold winter day, these images I shot during summer in Oslo are bringing me back to my beloved Norwegian woods. I hope that today, you might find some comfort in them too. And that one day soon, on a bright summer day, we will walk them together, in silence.

Sarah Fuchs is a freelance travel and documentary photographer based in Amsterdam. While traveling, she shoots almost exclusively on film, which allows her to slow down and connect with her surroundings in an otherwise busy daily life. Check out her work on Instagram @Sarah.Fuchs and her website: sarah-fuchs.com.

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