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Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

The eye of spring

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

The eye of the spring

The eye of spring peered through the frosted reeds. The thought of this delicate time of year, with its fragile flowers and pastel colors, often seems so far away in mid-winter;  but on this January morning at the water’s edge, the power of its steely light held all winter in a trance. Winter attempted to flex its muscles with -7 Celsius, demonstrating that it could still force us to wear warm clothes and thick-soled boots. Yet, like a child’s laugh which brings the world to a standstill, the yellow light broke through the cold mist that rose from the water’s surface and magically turned it warm.

I’ve waited so long for this morning to come. Since the waning light hours of October, I’ve thought of this January morning with Ellie the dog in the park when we would witness the magnificence of nature turning. It has been worth the wait; indeed, without it, this moment would not at all be the same. Everything to its time.

As my husband and I have both grown a year older this January, I have been thinking about time. During the first thirty years, one cannot hope for it to move quickly enough, releasing the reins on it like a thoroughbred on a race track. Thereafter, there is a short peace with time until one begins to hold the reins increasingly tightly. Life becomes more like dressage, with a greater respect for the dignity of restraint. Then there is a zone somewhere beyond 80, which I still haven’t quite understood, where the horse has been put back into its stall and where the whole business of release and restraint is a memory of the struggle. One goes more deeply into the beautiful simplicity of the child’s laugh and the effortlessness of the light that penetrates the mist in mid-January.

The snow in the back yard is marked by the shape of a sunken heart. In the evening it burned with many candles as the society of sauna brothers (a very exclusive club in our neighborhood that meets weekly to sweat and philosophize together) sang a Swedish Happy Birthday a capella from behind the fence. The sound of a male choir, with men and voices of different ages, is robust and full of musty vitality. There is a confidence in it that we will ride out the years with spirit.

Despite the rising years, I am alert once again these early mornings in January. As soon as my eyes open, I catch that glimmer of spring that breaks the coal black mornings of Scandinavian winter. The eyes that wanted to close again as soon as they opened when the light hours were on the decrease, are now open wide to milk the early mornings of their increasing light. The urge to get up and greet the day has returned and, like the bear, I leave my hibernation.

The bare branches of the fruit trees on the hill chirp. The silence of winter has been broken by the birds who know. The bulbs underground have been broken by small shoots. All of creation knows what we do not yet see. There is a revolution brewing under the surface. The birds fly into the blue sky and perch on a television antenna where the light warms their wings. On this static creation of man they can watch nature unfold.

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For more about Julie Lindahl’s books and other projects, please visit www.julielindahl.com, www.storiesforsociety.com and www.nordicwellbeing.com.

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The answer is in the seed bag

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Everyone should have to make one grow

“The birch leaves are bigger than mouse ears,” I commented as we drove out into the countryside. This fact distressed me a little: I hadn’t yet got the potatoes into the ground. The size and color of the birch leaves has always been a measure of time for farmers in these parts, but mostly just as a marker, a sign that one had completed the needed tasks on time. For all of the part-time farmers of Sweden, and that is a very large number of us, the transformation of the birch leaf has become something of a stresser. Farming in the North is the art of precision. A week or two’s delay here or there may land you with crops that aren’t ready before the first frost. Everything in nature gets to work quickly, is terribly industrious throughout the light season, and then closes down promptly, albeit somewhat unwillingly.

The seed bags lie unopened on the counter of my island kitchen. They are a reflection of modern life. So much will to creativity, but such a small portion gets done. Or perhaps it is that a very great deal gets done and that our lists have just got too long. No one can be satisfied with just three tasks or five tasks. The list has to be long. Or perhaps it is that so much of life, and increasing portions of it, takes place in digital worlds. In other words, we are no longer living in one world, rather in several at the same time, keeping our heads constantly turning from one world to the other, wondering which world is most important to prioritize just now.

Yet the seed bags are still on the counter, closed, and that bothers me. My garden is a school of learning unsurpassed in content and quality by any educational institution I have attended. I’ve learned more there about the intricate connections between everything – the reason that answering the question of “why” is never simple – than in any other setting I can think of. Following the directions on the pack won’t do in a garden. One must observe, switch on all of the senses and come to a deeper understanding of all of the forces that will affect the sprouting of the seed and the growth of the plant. It is a true lesson in “sustainable growth,” a riddle that seems otherwise still unsolved. If we wanted to address the world’s most pressing problems, everyone, particularly the world’s leaders, should be asked to make a seed grow where they live. The learning and discussion that would follow this great global act would be of greater value than anything we have heard so far. The thought may seem idealistic, but having myself been involved in the construction of complex strategies to solve global problems, I think the results could catalyze considerable shifts.

I inspect the grounds of my summer island. The impossible rose garden which we created on an island of sand is well. The emptying of the septic tank on Good Friday certainly has worked wonders. I give myself credit for at least observing this important date in the calendar. Appropriately, the awful task of Good Friday leads to a stunning rebirth. As Christ ascends to heaven this weekend, the work of cutting back and removing those admirable fighters we call weeds, begins. A cold May wind steals through the sunlit air to ensure that no one rests in the hammock just yet. No time for resting. The seed bags have been opened.

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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. If you live in Sweden visit www.julielindahl.com to take advantage of a special offer currently available for Lindahl’s books. Learn more about her other books and activities at www.julielindahl.com.

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Spring at the water

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Everything in its highest form

Early Sunday morning and the lake was all fog. One struggled to see a solid object, but the lake was a white haze. The facing island had vanished, and out on the water it seemed that there was nothing. Many people found this nothingness to be haunting, disorienting, something one hoped would lift and go away. During all of the years in this place, I had learned that this blankness was a friend, because it gave the possibility for the mind to rest and become fertile for own new thoughts.

An hour later, a motor boat headed out for the islands broke the silence and the evenness. Nothing had become something and had started to lift here and there. A pair of Canada geese flew low over the water, the tips of their wings skimming the surface to awaken the sleeping giant. The weeping birch branches swayed over the water as the dance of the day proper began.

Now the lake was patterns in the mid-morning sun. The birds in the trees chirped with excitement in a thousand voices. One heard the motor boats in the distance, darting between the islands, transporting and preparing for the life of summer. The garden furniture at the dock was still inhabited by the ghost of winter – empty, unarranged and quiet. Yet, soon, it too would join the carnival at the water.

It is wonderful to see a receptive mind discover the water for the first time. Ellie the dog cocked her floppy ears as the waves reached out to her at the shore. “Here we are, come and meet us, little pup,” they whispered. Ellie barked, since dogs don’t whisper, then crouched down and lapped mischievously at the incoming tide with her tongue, inviting the water to play. There was something about the water that was magical, frightening, alluring and original to us, all at the same time. We’d come from it, consisted mostly of it, and could never get enough of its shimmering surface.

I sat on a tree stump and shut my eyes. Ellie crept into my lap, exhausted from playing with the waves, which never seemed to give up. Her small pup’s body was soft and warm in the sun, which had consumed the fog and revealed the lake. Then I wished I could sit here forever, in the company of evenness and truth. Here there was no need to be strategic, make progress or achieve. Everything by its very nature, was already in its highest form. Yet, it took silence, fog and nothing to know and appreciate the essence of things. I wished more of it for more of us.

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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.

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Ecological Easter

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Colt's foot emerges from the cold April ground

The waves push out the last of the thin morning ice that accumulates like a thin wafer during the April nights. The sun melts down the morning chill and wills the greenness to rise from the flowerbeds. The shapes of the tender leaves rising from the soil remind me of the plants that will be there, tall, mature and colorful with flowers, during the summer. The birds take off and land, delighting in the new fluidity of nature. There is motion and color after stillness and white.  The balance of aesthetics between the seasons is perfect. There is nothing we can create that likens it. All we can do to experience it is to be a part of it. This thought is so obvious that we easily forget it as we observe nature, conserve nature and try to ensure its sustainability.

Returning to my summer island in the spring brings me back to being a part of it. There is something about living in or near the city that makes one an observer of nature rather than a participant. Nature is in museums and zoos. Out on the pavement there are only cement and cigarette butts. Just the other evening, while visiting friends in the center of town, I struggled to find a tuft of grass for Ellie the dog to pee on. We wandered block after block in the supposedly green city of Stockholm, but failed to find anything but a small patch of brown. This happened to be the new neighborhood plantings (although this was not obvious to the naked eye), and neighborhood watch soon screamed out her window that we were tramping on the neighborhood farm. Sometimes I find that the city makes people get angry about green. It is an unfortunate fact that humankind becomes militant when resources are lacking. Ellie and I walked away from the patch of brown quietly. We hadn’t noticed a single shoot. Only cigarette butts. More power to the people who want to green our cities.

Out here in the boondocks, we’ve been very ecological this Easter. Septic tanks need taking care of and roses need fertilizing. Roses are beautiful things with a vile appetite for stuff that smells bad and has a consistency that doesn’t make most people feel well. In fact, most things that grow have this sort of vile appetite and preference for the mushy. Our modern visions of ecological lifestyles – brown paper labels in clean ‘green’ shops – put a smooth veneer on what ecological living actually is. Ellie runs into the kitchen from the garden, snout and paws covered in dirt, and jumps up on my trousers to catch my attention. Now I have brown paw marks on my trousers. Nothing to bother about. This is the very essence of ecological living.

Today it is Easter Sunday. I wasn’t raised in any particular religion, although with many of them around me. Despite this, Easter Sunday on this island is special to me. It is the day when I find the time to notice the power of the shoots and the sap rising in the birch trees. The green Buddha on my window sill strikes me as the perfect symbol of what I experience here: the perfect balance of everything that simply is.

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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. Learn more about Julie’s other books and activities at www.julielindahl.com.

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One hour more or less

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A garden in Lapland

The birdsong was all-encompassing at 5.00 a.m. with the impending sunrise and the disturbing noise of civilization still parked in garages. Had a neighbor been awake and looked out the window, he/she would have noticed a woman dressed in a knee-length white night-gown and Wellington boots squinting to see as to whether her puppy had taken a pee. Without her glasses on, it was impossible to know whether the little black mite had done its business, and so she turned her back on the dawn and went back to bed with the puppy lying at the foot of her bed.

Up and awake again: every clock in the house claimed it was 8.00 but out in the world it was actually 9.00. That topsy turvy experience of daylight saving had come again. With just one hour less, this day of the year seemed over before it had begun. There was so much to fit in, in so much less time. Or, was there more time because the days were longer? She could never get her head around the labyrinth of thinking that time change entailed. This day seemed one for physicists who could rationalize such things. It never made any sense to a philosopher of the humanities like herself.

Before she knew it, it was three in the afternoon and the kids were out playing a curious game with two white cabbage heads. For someone who knew how difficult it was to grow a cabbage, it hurt to watch them batting them around the garden like baseballs. As the bits of cabbage flew, the little black puppy seemed to be the only one who appreciated the good food that was being wasted. Under the plum tree that was still bare, it sat and chewed on the huge leaves that were beautiful, like the palm of a hand. The woman tried to explain to the children that this was good food that people in poor places she had been to would treasure, but they couldn’t understand. It was out of the realm of their experience.

The turning of the clocks meant that garden life had started again. Last year’s growth, now brown and brittle, had to be removed so that the garden could flourish again. The cut branches of the currant bushes yielded the tart distinctive smell of the fruit still to be borne in plenty. Her senses opened to the new season and she began to relax into the thought of one hour less…or one hour more.

A hot cup of coffee on the bench and a garden magazine was the best thing she knew at this time of year. Life in the garden must be so much less stressful here than for the Lapland gardener in the article she read. “I try to preach about the unique possibilities offered here in the North and to encourage my colleagues,” the Lapland gardener was quoted as saying. Perhaps it was just all about how one took things, and, of course, knowledge which is an under-estimated stress combatant.

Night had finally fallen and she stood out on the lawn, once again unable to see as to whether her little black fluffball puppy had done its ablutions. In two short months there would be no darkness at night. Then she’d think about the gardener in Lapland relishing in the joy of her 8-week garden. One hour less or one hour more didn’t really matter any more. It was really all about how one used each of them.

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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. Learn more about Julie’s other books and activities at www.julielindahl.com.

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What are we thinking?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The delicate flowers of spring

Lucy the dog and I have gone off the beaten path. We tread through the soft green wisps that have cropped up everywhere on the forest floor like a silk carpet. The lilac, yellow and white flowers that flourish in the shade of the trees in May tickle my ankles to catch my attention. We can marvel at the big peonies and roses of the summer, but these delicate flowers of spring are more graceful and more moving because of their determination to rise up despite all of the odds: the iron nights of spring, the mud of April and May, and people with their dogs who long to trample upon the greenery as soon as it emerges.

Lucy digs furiously at the base of a tree where obviously some poor unsuspecting creature has made its home. While I fully expect that someday something angry is going to bite her nose off, on this occasion I let her take her fate into her own hands – or should I say paws? Amid the delicate flowers and the blades of young grass, my eye strikes a large-sized coffee cup from Pressbyrån (the local kiosk), which someone obviously decided they were done with. A little further on, an empty plastic water bottle lies forelorn on the ground with some used white tissues scattered here and there.

I try to reconstruct the story: A woman walking through the park on a sunny May day sipping a cappuccino receives a call from her fiancée who says he has decided to break off their engagement. She drops her cup on the ground in shock and begins to weep, unconsciously throwing her tissues onto the ground, one after the other. In order to calm herself down, she takes out the plastic water bottle from her hand bag, sits on the bench next to the statue and sips water, unable to organize her thoughts and emotions.

I like to construct these types of stories around garbage I see scattered on the ground in public areas, since I want to believe that my fellow person cares but has simply experienced a momentary lapse of responsibility. I want to believe that there are good reasons as to why people leave garbage scattered amid the delicate flowers. In my heart of hearts I am always hoping.

During the summers I sometimes walk around my island with a black garbage bag picking up the debris that visiting sailboats have left at our shores. I remember sitting on a rock with a black garbage bag that was somewhere between full to brimming, and thinking about what this says about developments in our society. Can people be blamed for feeling that the land isn’t theirs, and that the forests and wild shores aren’t really a part of their reality? People live mostly in big cities which create a considerable degree of separation from the earth and its cycles. We have divided the land between us so that we don’t feel a collective responsibility for it. Here in Scandinavia this attitude is somewhat mitigated by customary laws allowing common access to the land and the seas, but signs of lack of common responsibility are nevertheless everywhere to be seen.

I pick up the debris on the ground so that the forest floor is once again a place where people can dream. Our systems have no doubt helped more of us to survive, but they have also weakened our will to take own responsibility. How we encourage that attitude is probably the greatest challenge to cleaning up our planet.

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My new book, Rose in the Sand, a memoir of a decade lived in the Swedish wilderness, will be out shortly. Watch out for it at www.julielindahl.com and join me at Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about my non-profit, Stories for Society, which brings story-telling as a tool for learning and communication into schools. Enjoy my e-magazine at www.nordicwellbeing.com.

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Clearing out

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Time to get your hands dirty

Out on the streets people are cleaning. The last of the snow has melted and trickled down the gutters. All attention has turned to the debris which is the only remaining evidence of the gargantuan winter gone by. You’d imagine that with the sun shining warmth on this pre-Easter weekend, everyone would be in their sunchairs basking in the newspaper. But no, here in do-it-yourself Sweden there is no time for that sort of thing until your hands are sore and swollen, you’ve got a few scratches on your bare legs and you’ve put your back out from the first manual work of the season.

I stand on a ladder cutting down the hedges with an electric saw. “I’ll take care of that,” my husband says, somewhat embarassed that the passers by see him on the ground with a mere rake while his wife is up in the trees wielding a heavy machine. Yet I insist on sticking to my task because I enjoy the expanding view as the crowns of the hedges fall away.

Suddenly I can see the woman who usually passes  laden with jewellry in the shiniest of black Jaguars. Usually I feel like a peasant when she passes. Today she is out with everyone else raking away the molten leaves  on the flower beds that line the streets. Her appearance is still elegant, and so the rest of us are all still peasants, but the leaves in her rake and the black garbage bag in the corner are the same as everyone else’s. Nature in the spring unites us on the streets and feels like an experience of true socialism without the politics.

As I cut down the corner hedge, the tennis court comes into view. The community’s tennis players are out in full force preparing their red earth courts for the matches of the summer. Children chase one another around the perimeter of the courts while their parents clear the leaves and restore the lines of play. At such an illustrious location as the courts at the royal palace one might expect the King’s white-gloved tennis court maintenance crew to appear, but here in DIY Sweden there is always the possibility that the King and Queen might turn up in their shorts, t-shirts and visors to help clear out.

A glance beyond the courts reveals an enormous pyre that is building up so that it can be burnt on Walpurgis Night or Valborg. People from around the community make pilgrimages with their garden waste to this rapidly growing pile of garden twigs. Here in two weeks a leader of the community will make  the customary protest speech before the first of May, International Worker’s Day (even if he isn’t on the left of the political spectrum). Everyone needs a good protest every once in a while. This will be smoothed over by the spring psalms of the local choir, which will give way to the flames that finally clear away the debris of the winter.

The hedge is even now and my husband is relieved that I haven’t lost a finger using the electric saw. I take one last look out onto the water that reaches out to the islands. The steam boat that transports eager visitors from the city hoots in advance of arriving to forewarn us that it is time to be done with our clearing out. In the gap between the distant islands there is a space beyond which I cannot see. It seems that there is nothing there except peace, silence and the promise of summer away from cars and the bustle of life. My spirit has already gone there as I suspect it has for everyone who has been clearing out with me on the streets today.

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Happy News! My new book, “Rose in the Sand,” which is a memoir of Swedish island life and the writing of which has generously been sponsored by a literary prize from www.gather.com will be out this April. Join me at Facebook and/or Twitter for notification about the release date and more information about how to order it at my web site. Learn more about my writing and other projects at www.julielindahl.com. I a manage a non-profit for bringing story-telling to schools as a new tool for learning and communicating. If you are a principal, teacher or other person interested in knowing more about this, please visit www.storiesforsociety.com and get in touch!

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Spring rebellion

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Little Rebel

A V-formation flew overhead. Lucy the dog and I watched it with necks craned back. The Canada geese had returned. My heart expanded with love of the season, wanting to break out and embrace every bud and creature that dared to speak despite the brisk temperatures. Each spring is like a rebellion in nature. That which lives will have its say, and like a ruthless dictator, the winter, which seemed impossible to depose just a few short weeks ago, begins to look increasingly toothless.

Over in the cropped linden trees the smaller birds are singing in an increasingly complex chorus. With each day that passes there are more voices. It’s beginning to sound like Mahler. Today a new diva in the branches catches Lucy’s attention. She sits with pricked ears and cocked head, and listens to this sound she has heard before but never tires of. Lucy is a retriever, in other words, a bird dog. Everything relating to birds fascinates her and now she has passed on her fascination to me. The thing about the birds in the trees is that it is often hard to spot where all of the sounds are coming from with the naked eye. I suspect that Lucy can smell the birds from her spot down on the ground. Without binoculars, I settle for the idea that trees sing. Not a bad thought.

Then down on the grass a crow caws condescendingly, provoking Lucy. There is something about crows that sends her blood pressure up. I hold her back and behold the raven creature. It looks at me with a regal air, as though I am nothing but a tiny spot. It is perhaps this attitude that gets Lucy all riled up. She’s a Swedish dog: she likes groups, lagom, consensus and togetherness; not a crow’s haughty tune.

We’ve gone to observe the small islands of tiny spring flowers breaking out on the sun-struck hills. Nature’s rebellion is dramatic. It has been going on under the snow for quite some time without anyone seeing it. Now as the snow retreats it is there for everyone to notice. There are purples, yellows, whites and all manner of shapes. The difference of form that life takes in this new free time is exciting and almost unbelievable after the montone rule of winter.

We’ve arrived back home and I urge Lucy to come in for breakfast. She cocks her head once again in such a way that says, “why?” Not even breakfast can tempt her out of the sun and the revolution of nature happening outside. She is a dog of the people and shuns creature comforts to be out there with them, witnessing the fall of winter. 

Out the back window I can see that she has instead run to greet Mrs. Bengtsson, an avid gardener well into her eighties. We have opened up our two gardens so that all of us can enjoy a bigger garden. Mrs. Bengtsson is one of those diehard spring rebels and finds a great deal in common with Lucy the light lover. She has already cut back all of her bushes in readiness for the greenery. My heart is there with her but I am still here at my keyboard putting my faith in the written word to inspire you to become a rebel too (if you are not one already, that is).

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Happy News! My new book, “Rose in the Sand,” which is a memoir of Swedish island life and the writing of which has generously been sponsored by a literary prize from www.gather.com will be out this April. Join me at Facebook and/or Twitter for notification about the release date and more information about how to order it at my web site. Learn more about my writing and other projects at www.julielindahl.com. I a manage a non-profit for bringing story-telling to schools as a new tool for learning and communicating. If you are a principal, teacher or other person interested in knowing more about this, please visit www.storiesforsociety.com and get in touch!

Remember to check my e-magazine, www.nordicwellbeing.com, the one and only for wellbeing with Nordic inspiration!

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For the love of a plebeian spade

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Most of us walk around with dreams. Some of them are worth having and others need more thinking through. As the weed bursts forth despite the cool spring, I dream of having one of the gardeners across the road at the palace work my little patch with all of their amazing machinery that turns gardening into a comfortable activity conducted from a golf cart. As I dream of this luxury, my reality is that I have managed to clear the infamous bishop’s goutweed from the beds behind my house using a spade that was produced in the dark days that preceded ergonomic science. I look to the ceramic Buddha’s head placed serenely in another corner of the garden and note that unless I get onto that patch within the next couple of days, the lord Buddha will be buried in a virile jungle of weed with notoriously deep and tangled roots.

Across the road, gardeners dressed in uniform whisk about the paths of the palace in white carts. A blower clears the pathways and a rake dragged on the back of one of the carts makes orderly patterns in the gravel. The tulips prepare to bloom in equidistant rows and the very sight of a weed fighting its way up in the soil in between results in its prompt extinguishment. The long rows of linden trees receive a shower of nutrients through a tube directed at the roots. The King’s recent order to distribute free compostible doggy-doo bags in the park has been promptly seen to by a machine that effortlessly hammers poles into the ground from which the new free offerings hang. No where is there a spade, old or new, to be seen. Spades are the instruments of the plebeians across the street.

As I walk through the park, green with jealousy as well as one of the King’s compostible doggy-doo bags wrapped in readiness over my hand, I notice that the birch leaves are the size of mouse ears. It is written in the lore of Swedish peasant farmers that when the birch have reached this revered state, the potatoes must be planted. Planting these most Nordic of all bulbs is one of those things that everyone should get a crack at. Having the chance to dig a spade into the earth is to experience the very essence of spring.

One of the royals breaks the ground with a shiny new spade and hundreds of people clap. It’s time to “plant” another tree. I ask myself what life would be like if each time that I picked up a spade I had to do it without getting my hands or shoes dirty, and with a team of bodyguards ready to throw themselves on top of me. With my gardens tended by teams of specialists in golf carts, I’d never get the chance to know the joy of planting a potato and, yes, even uprooting the prolific goutweed. The answer is that I’d be dying for that moment of plebeian joy across the street.

I’m not a Republican so far but things are moving in that direction. It isn’t that I don’t like the royals, it’s just that wellbeing isn’t to be found in a perfectly manicured garden but in a life of experience dug with an ancient spade. No one should be denied that pleasure.

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Attention all tulip lovers! The park is full of them and in Stockholm you can now enjoy a special photographic exhibition of tulips. Visit www.nordicwellbeing.com and check Happening Now 2010 on the home page.

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The conversion of a speed tyrant

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Have you come to your senses yet?

As I’ve been walking around under a cloud of volcanic ash wondering, like many, when aircraft are going to restore that reliable sense of speed we have got used to in our lives, my dog Lucy has been concerned with developments on the ground. As the earth softens and emits the many smells of the life within it, Lucy is in sensory heaven. It has been a long, dull winter without the aromas of the earth and only endless amounts of white snow that, to her chagrin, leaves her fur sparkling clean. For a dog, not walking around with something ill-smelling in its fur is the height of unattractiveness.

So far I have managed to stick to my new regimen of a long early morning walk in Drottningholm Park. It is a wonderful new habit but I fear that Lucy and I have objectives that are at odds. While I am seeking to break into a sweat, burn energy and tone muscles by keeping up a goose-step pace strictly between 6.30 and 7.30 am (when I have to be home to ensure that the children get breakfast before I start work) Lucy is in a timeless search for the smell of all smells. Like a connoisseur, she slows down at each tree to appreciate the many great smells that a tree bears: the smell of birds, squirrels, deer chewing at the lichen on the bark and of course canine buddies who have previously baptized the tree. Like a speed tyrant, I drag her forward and reprimand her for inattention to our schedule.

On one of the back paths we run into Crown Princess Victoria looking athletic in black followed by two noisy lifeguards. “Hej”, she comments gently to Lucy who naturally captures the spotlight with her timeless sense of joy. Then it occurs to me that not even a rushed crown princess who most likely has no desire to greet more beings during her precious early morning hours can resist being drawn in by that affectionate space that a dog creates. Even if dogs physically live in our harried world, spiritually they preserve that original authenticity of joy in the moment that just then seems to have no limits.

Lucy is all done with her pal the Crown Princess and has now found a snail to focus her attentions upon. The snail is crossing the road at a pace which is painful to observe. There isn’t a great deal of traffic here but all it takes is the occasional vehicle to send the snail to purgatory. My urge is to lift up the poor little critter and move it to safety on the other side of the road, but something tells me that we should let nature take its course. Lucy and I watch the snail with ears pricked until finally its trail has left a shiny line across the road. We look up and find that a vehicle has been waiting for us to be done with snail hour.

Although she can be annoying I cherish my dog. How else would I learn to appreciate the delicate progress of a snail?

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For anyone contemplating purchasing a furry friend check Svenska Kennelklubben. If you are interested in a Lucy check Golden Retrieverklubben.

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02 September

America night (Blogweiser) »

" There was an event this weekend for the ‘Americans in Sweden’ Facebook group. I’m a member, and I brought my girls to the evening. The gathering was at a Boston-themed sportsbar in a mall. There were loads of screens, a bowling alley, a game room and a jumbotron. It was as good a place as any to..." READ »

 

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 
 
 
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