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  • Writer's pictureRichard Mark Dobson

Autumnal Cycles - Part 1

As we cycle towards Oslo's welcoming embrace, metaphorically entering the autumnal stages of this remarkable journey, it has been a joy to witness the Baltic and Nordic landscapes shifting in hue and mood, from the vibrancy of summer to the contemplative shades of autumn. This transformation unfolds in real time, given the leisurely pace of our progress; on bicycles, we cover distances in weeks that a car would devour in a few days.

Subtle shifting hues, a gradual transformation from summery green and olive to shades of purple, mauve, orange, and red. Autumn quietly envelops us as we pedal onward.

Touches of orange, dot the high mountain ridge that lines the western flank of route 3 to Tynset.

Now, in the autumnal phase of our adventure, gradually making our way towards Oslo during Norway's own autumnal season, it's a time for reflection and an appraisal of Ajmal Samuel and his team's accomplishments. Each passing day paints the Norwegian landscape with a deeper golden hue, mirroring our recollections of what we've witnessed and achieved. While the world around us takes on a ruddy appearance, our inner musings about this remarkable journey acquire a rosy resonance. An inner warmth radiates from the fulfillment of wild dreams and achieved goals.

Amidst the tranquil landscapes, secluded cottages and barns adopt an autumnal identity, mirroring the rich hues that envelop them. As autumn draws near, they gracefully meld into their surroundings, exuding an air of dignified harmony.

Before delving deeper into the introspective pull that autumn landscapes evoke, let's first explore the symbolism of autumn and its diverse cultural celebrations around the world.

Autumn holds a special place in the hearts of people across Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, each with its unique cultural, spiritual, and psychological significance.

The silver birch undergoes a radiant transformation, casting a striking contrast against its pine tree companions. Its golden splendor erupts amidst the evergreen forest like a fiery explosion.

In Lithuania, autumn signifies the end of the harvest season and is celebrated with various rural festivals, emphasizing the gratitude for nature's bounty. Latvians view this season as a time of reflection and preparation for the long winter ahead. Estonia, on the other hand, embraces the "Kadripäev" celebration, where women named Kadi are honored, showcasing the importance of personal names and identity.

A fire in the sky. The trees along the road to Tynset ablaze with burnt umber and hot orange hues.

Finns cherish the "ruska" season, marked by the vibrant colors of autumn foliage. This time provides an opportunity for Finns to connect with nature, often spent hiking or foraging for berries and mushrooms. Swedes celebrate the onset of autumn with "Mårten Gås," a tradition involving roast goose dinners and lantern-lit processions to brighten the darkening evenings.

In Norway, autumn signifies the culmination of the sheep farming season, marked by the annual "sheep returning" event, where sheep are brought down from the mountains. This time serves as a reminder of the hard work and resilience needed to endure the approaching winter.

In the last days of our trip, and moving gradually towards Oslo, I the author continue to seek autumnal images for this essay, as each day the Norwegian landscape takes on a richer golden hue. But it’s not just the inanimate objects that glow rust red and orange. The animate too. Amber hued Wild horses for example. Or sheep in black or white set against a hyper-flash of yellow ochre.

Ajmal Samuel and his Chinese wife Carol, living in Hong Kong, consider the contrasts of autumn celebrations in Northern Europe to how China observes the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival.

Ajmal, Mark and Rimintas take a break from a chilly, hilly ride to Tynset, while Ajmal's wife Carol Cheung, is out of frame, for she's taking a long deserved rest in the warm comforts of the Proace support vehicle.

Back home, this beloved tradition falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. The Mid-Autumn Festival is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, symbolizing unity, family reunion, and the harvest season. Families come together to enjoy delicious mooncakes, which come in various flavors and intricate designs. People also light colorful lanterns and gather for moon-watching parties, often reciting poems and folklore related to the moon's mystical allure. The festival embodies a sense of togetherness, reinforcing the importance of family bonds and cherishing the abundance of the season.

A fiery Chinese Phoenix? The phoenix in Chinese mythology represents an enduring symbol of beauty, virtue, and renewal, reflecting the profound influence of ancient Chinese beliefs and traditions on the culture's art, customs and symbolism.

TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: 2,271.76Km (4th October 2023)

Day 43 -Rest Day. Åkrestrømmen Rendalen

Day 42 -Tynset to Åkrestrømmen Rendalen 74.66km

Day 41-Berkak to Tynset 93.06km

Day 40 -Trondheim to Berkak 72.58km

Day 39 -Rest Day. Trondheim

Day 38 -Sticklestad to Trondheim 95.50km

Day 37 -Kvam to Sticklestad 56.46km

Day 36 -Harran to Steinkjer 71.98km

Day 35 -Namsskogen to Harran 61.60km

Day 34 -Mosjoen to Namsskogen (Car)

Day 33 -Rest day Mosjoen

Day 32 -Nensa to Mosjoen 70km

Day 31 -Mo I Rana to Nensa 66.45Km

Day 30 -Rest day Mo I Rana

Day 29 -Meravan to Mo I Rana 98.01km

Day 28 -Slussfors to Hermavan 85.17km

Day 27 -Storuman to Slussfors. 62.00km

Day 26 -Lycksele to Storuman 102.9km

Day 25 -Vindeln to Lycksele 75.75 km

Day 24 -Holmsund to Vindeln 75.7km

Day 23 -Vaasa to Holmsund (Ferry Ride)

Day 22 -Rest day Vaasa

Day 21- Rest day Vaasa

Day 20 -Narpes to Vaasa 79.8km

Day 19- Merikarvia to Närpes 93.76 km

Day 18 -Pori to Merikarvia 52.8km

Day 17- Rauma to Pori 57.9km

Day 16 -Uusikaupunki to Rauma 47.4km

Day 15 -Turku to Uusikaupunki 73.5km

Day 14 -Helsinki to Turku (Car)

Day 13 -Tallin to Helsinki (Ferry ride)

Day 12- Tallin Rest & Recharge

Day 11- Märjamaa to Tallin 72.17

Day 10 -Pärnu linn to Märjamaa 64.1km

Day 9- Pärnu Rest & Recharge

Day 8 - Salacgriva to Pärnu 75km

Day 7 - Riga to Salacgriva 104.4km

Day 6 - Riga Rest and Recharge

Day 5 - Plieņciema kāpa to Riga 60.14Km

Day 4 - Kuldiga to Plieņciema kāpa 108.59Km

Day 3 - Liepāja to Kuldīga 97.34Km

Day 2 - Sventājato Liepāja 62.11Km

Day 1 - Klaipeda to Sventāja 42.89Km

Join the expedition, follow updates, and tag along on this inspiring adventure."

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