The hillsides were decorated like a laced veil. The tiniest of flowers had come out to play under the trees in white and blue. I looked at them more closely and changed my mind. This wasn’t just a frolic. Each one was stalwart and true, a giant on the small piece of ground that it occupied, despite the towering trees overhead. Everything about the spring was like this: playful at a distance and startling powerful in its every part.
It was still quiet in the park, which was on the cusp of being filled with visitors. Ellie the dog and I were queens of the empty pathways. She massaged her sides against the old stone of the palace and subsequently against the stylized hedges that had been intended as an imitation of the gardens at Versailles. I’d never thought of the King’s palace as a dog spa, but to Ellie it was plain as day.
It was one of those Sundays in Stockholm when people get out of their seats and go neighbor-watching. As I gardened in the front yard, I realized Ellie knew quite a few more of the neighbors than I did. One after the other peered over the front gate to greet her, summarily ignoring her owner. To tempt some of these people to greet me too, I hung out my “honey for sale, 50 kr:-” sign and organized a few jars from last year’s harvest on a table behind the gate with an empty jar for money. A few came and purchased, but no one wanted to talk to me. The little black furry number with the tail that wagged automatic friendship had outclassed me in cuteness.
Urged on by the new research concerning the undeniable link between sitting and shortened life span, I dug, hacked and hauled until my body ached. How many Swedes wait for the spring to get fit in the garden and then wreck their bodies? I used to wonder how people could be so foolish. Now I know. The winter is long, and encourages our tendency to huddle in warm corners. As soon as the ground frost as yielded, we’re digging spades into it at insane angles without bending our knees. Our doctors shake their heads and wonder how silly people can be. Yet, we all do it, including our doctors, just because the spring in this part of the world is so irresistable.
A friend of mine has to leave Stockholm in June. How could any employer be so inconsiderate? Leaving Sweden in June is blasphemy, against nature, twisted. There is no where else that I have lived (and that is quite a few places) where the thought of packing up in the spring and early summer hurts. It isn’t just that the warmth and light returns, but among the tiniest of flowers rising from the once frozen forest floor, one’s heart sings and everything is possible.
Learn more about Julie Lindahl’s prize-winning new book, “Rose in the Sand,” a memoir of a decade lived on a Swedish island. Order it now from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk , Author House, authorhouse.co.uk and many other online bookstores, including major Swedish online bookstores such as bokia.se and adlibris.se. Learn more about Julie’s other books and activities at www.julielindahl.com.