Lili – August 7, 2017

I’m pleased to report that this summer is turning out to be a little less hectic than usual. With Olivia and Anna away at camp, Brad and I have enjoyed some quality time alone…if you can call binge watching our favorite Netflix shows quality time! But sometimes, on nice evenings, we watch the “show” of the setting sun in the summer skies.

I’m still volunteering with the other descendants of The Danish Home founders, but after a wildly successful Tivoli Gardens event in June, I’ve had a little time before our next event this Thursday, August 10. The Danish Home’s “Cuisine and Spirits” event will host Danish Chef Stig Hansen, who is flying in from Denmark to whip up some of his finest Scandinavian dishes. Select beer and wine will be paired with his award-winning creations, too.

World-renowned Danish chef Stig Hansen will create some of his finest Scandinavian dishes for The Danish Home's "Cuisine and Spirits" event this Saturday, August 10.

World-renowned Danish Chef Stig Hansen will create some of his finest Scandinavian dishes for The Danish Home’s “Cuisine and Spirits” event this Thursday, August 10.

The weather has been so beautiful that some days I just want to be outside, so I’ve taken to stopping by The Danish Home and visiting with some of the residents after supper. It’s in the center of a residential area in Norwood Park, so the home has a lovely garden with many spots to sit and enjoy the early evening sun as it begins to fade.

My favorite place to sit is by the four-tiered fountain below the wrought iron balconies. I’ll chat with whomever happens to be around, and you never quite know whom you’ll meet or what the conversation will be.

I first met Britta a few weeks ago. She told me she had been a resident for six months and in that time had gotten quite a reputation as a pianist in the lounge. Turns out as that a student in Denmark, she attended the esteemed Royal Danish Academy of Music.

“Did you see that?” she asked suddenly, interrupting herself. I looked up at the darkening skies and saw nothing.

“What?”

“There, a light! It’s gone out now. But look, there’s another…what on earth is it?” Then I realized what Britta had seen.

“They’re fireflies,” I said. “Otherwise known as lighting bugs. They come out just after sunset at this time of year. They’re beautiful.”

To be honest, I was surprised she hadn’t seen them before.

“I’m not normally out so late,” she explained. “But I’m having so much fun chatting with you. We don’t have anything quite like fireflies back in the homeland, although as a girl I do remember seeing the Black Sun, which is another pretty unusual phenomenon.”

“I’ve heard of a blue moon, but never a black sun!” I replied.

In Denmark, hundreds of starlings gather at dusk, creating a pattern in the sky known as the "black sun."

In Denmark, hundreds of starlings gather at dusk, creating a pattern in the sky known as the “Black Sun.”

“We used to visit a national park every year; I can’t quite remember the name of it now, but I think it was in South Jutland,” Britta said.

“At dusk hundreds of starlings would gather, making incredible patterns in the sky. I might not recall the name of the park, but those birds, well, no one could forget them. They didn’t light up, of course,” she laughed. “But it was just as magical.”

Britta explained that after marrying an American GI, they moved to the heart of downtown Chicago where any evening lights came from car headlights or billboards, for the most part.

“I was used to the cold so the weather never bothered me,” she said. “But the warmer summers are a definite bonus. I never realized how much I missed the countryside. As a child in Denmark there were so many insects. My favorites were the dragonflies that hovered over the pond in our backyard every summer. I also liked letting lady bugs crawl from one finger to another. We called them mariehøns.”

By now it was almost dark; time to go. I pulled on my cardigan as I headed towards the car.

“Talking about insects, the color of your sweater reminds me of the stunning damselflies,” said Britta. “A beautiful teal blue.”

On my journey home, I wondered if insects stayed in one country, or moved across the world like Britta had. Turns out a record number of new insects have been discovered by Danish researchers with climate change labelled as the reason.

I also wondered, with hope, whether the skies on August 10 will be as twinkling with summer critters for “Cuisine and Spirits” as they were this evening with my new friend, Britta.