It has been a while since I have managed to organize an interview with someone. As you know I am trying to bring interesting content and interesting projects as often as possible for you to read. Due to limited budget it is not always possible to write about my trip experiences, sharing awesome pictures and videos. This time I found someone – more precisely someone’s book, with a very interesting story. Most of my plant literature, I acquire from Austria and rarely from an English speaking country, so unfortunately unless you speak Norwegian or German, you won’t be able to read this book, but do not feel down, because I will try to summaries the most important parts. Well actually, it won’t be me, but the author himself! Yes, Mr. Torbjørn Ekelund the author of Året i skogen book (Im Wald in German, In the woods in English).
Before we get to the interview, let me share my thoughts. If you ever wanted to visit the beautiful nature of Norway, well here is your chance. It is a journal so it is fairly easy to read, and there are very interesting parts for everyone, wether you like nature, plants or traveling. I am still in the process of reading it, since I have acquired it couple of weeks ago, and it is already fascinating me. It’s simplicity is what it makes so special. It is about nature. Nothing more and nothing less. How nature is changing around us and how beautiful it is. People who live in urban areas tend to forget what beauties nature can reveal to us, and this book tries to remind us, to go out and explore it. Usually when a book fascinates me, I try to find the author online and get in touch with him/her. I consider myself very lucky, because Mr. Ekelund was very helpful and he answered all of my questions in details. I will also share some pictures which I have received from Mr. Ekelund – if that won’t bring your mood to go to Norway then nothing will! 🙂
Without further delay, here is the interview:
1. Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I am 45 years old, I live in Oslo, the capital of Norway, with my wife and two children (9 and 7 years old). I have a ph.d. in intellectual history from the University of Oslo. I have worked as a journalist for many years, and also as an editor in several publishing houses. Three years ago I quit my job to start the web magazine Harvest with three friends. My ambition is to make Harvest my full time job, and to write books on the same subject – man and mans relation to nature. “Im Wald” is my first book. In June I leave on a 10 day hike in a small mountain area in southern Norway together with my 7 year old son, and from that trip I will write my text book, scheduled for release in Norwegian in the winter of 2017.
2. You spend a lot of time in nature, what was the most memorable moment and/or experience?
The most memorable experience I have from my time spent in nature is very difficult to pick out. There are so many, hikes to the top of big mountains, walks through dense forest, big trout caught on a small fly rod. I think I’ll have to say that in general, the best and most memorable moments is waking up in a tent. For me, that represents the ultimate lightness of mind, a fresh cup of coffee, the quiet of the woods, the feeling of being completely alone and having all the time in the world.
3. …and what was the most hardest/challenging moment?
I have never experienced a life threatening situation, maybe because I’m not particularly tough, I seldom take risks. But I have experienced getting lost in a forest, getting completely soaked during a rain storm with miles to go before I got home, freezing intensely through nights with temperatures below minus 20 degrees celsius and many other things. The experience i remember clearest was when I was paddling with a canoe on a big lake many years ago, it was in the middle of the night, half dark in the Norwegian summer, no wind, completely quiet, when suddenly the fog came. And I experienced that it was completely impossible to navigate. Everything was white, I could not separate up from down, I could not even see my own hand when I held it one inch from my nose. I had to sit there and wait in the canoe until the morning, because I knew that the sun would bring a small breeze that would break up the fog.
4. What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration behind my book “Im Wald” was the old, Norwegian nature writers, people that wrote about the small details in nature, not only about great achievements. Norway’s nature writing has for the past 30 years been dominated by the great polar explorers, and that is fine, but I wanted to explore a different kind of nature, the common nature, the places that everyone have visited, but maybe not really seen.
5. I think in your book there is a „not-so-hidden“ message about the relation of humanity with nature, who do you recommend it to read?
I would of course recommend everyone that spend time in nature to read my book. And I agree with you, there is a hidden message there about mans relation to nature. We live in a historical tradition of exploiting nature, we consider nature as a resource for us, something we can use to our advantage, to make profit. I believe that nature has a value that goes far beyond this, and only by knowing it will we be able to see that value, and respect it.
6. You are co-founder at an online magazine called Harvest. Can you tell more about it? Harvest is an online magazine about man and our relation to nature. I started it three years ago together with three friends, and it has become very popular in Norway. We publish articles, photos, videos and podcasts on many subjects concerning nature and the environment, so far it is only in Norwegian, but we are planning an english version in the fall of 2016. The Norwegian magazine can be found at www.harvest.as.
7. And finally, a bit more philosophical question. Did nature teach you/help you understand something?
A good and difficult question! The answer is yes, and I think I will illustrate it with a quote from the great american explorer John Muir. In his book “My firs summer in the Sierra” he writes about a poisonous plant. He writes:
„Like most other things not apparently useful to man, it has few friends, and the blind question, ‘Why was it made?’ goes on and on with never a guess that first of all it might have been made for itself.“
I hope you enjoyed reading it at least as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I would like to thank Mr. Torbjørn Ekelund once again for his time and openness for making this come true. I am looking forward to read more from him in the future and I wish the best with their online magazine project!