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Archive for the ‘Winter’ 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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A trip to infinity

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Sacred mountains

I’ve come to the mountains to escape the idea of the last day. In the ancient mountains there are no last days, as the mountains go on forever. As we drive up, the giant spruce tower over us on either side of the road like attendants at the portal to this land of infinity. Their size should make them initimidating in the rapidly darkening skies, but it doesn’t. Their white coats of snow make them look like sad angels, overgrown children tasked with standing together and greeting newcomers at this entrance to the land that never ends.

From my cottage window I can see the sacred mountain. It gets in the way of progress, they say, because no one is allowed to build on it, over it or around it. One becomes quite ill climbing up this mountain, and one wonders why since, like most of the Swedish mountains, its altitude is not remarkable. Perhaps that is because its very being clashes with our need for speed; our inclination to divide life into the old and the new. On the mountain, old and new dwell together; they are a part of the same whole and change is constant.

In the nearby village it’s the time of peak business; time for excitement, hustle and bustle. Yet, the manner of speaking of our local hosts, the townspeople, remains constant. While happy to see us, the shop attendants find our ecstatic lowland approach to New Year’s puzzling. They’ve put out the fireworks for sale for our petty amusement, but the mountains will continue at the midnight chiming of the clocks and time will go on.

Out on the cross-country tracks, which are themselves an endless white, it occurs to me why it is that I long to escape finality and the ideas of old and new this year. It isn’t as simple as ageing. The challenges that we face today seem so final that opposites don’t matter any more. Young, old, this, that matter decreasingly as we begin to wake up to the fact that we’ve used up the earth. In this dark thought I come to an even space, as even as the land that stretches between the low, undulating Swedish mountains: when finality becomes great enough, contradictions and opposites seem to collapse. Old and new become time, time and infinity become the universe and, most importantly, you and me become we. My skis keep moving me forward in space and time through the white, but I hold onto this thought which seems so deeply entrenched in the spirit of the mountains.

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Learn more about Julie Lindahl’s books and other projects at www.julielindahl.com and www.storiesforsociety.com.

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As good as it gets

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Image by Rachel Stenback

Santa Claus walked down the road holding his young daughter’s hand. They both wore the same red Christmas robes with hoods that had a white fur trimming; and thick boots that kept their feet warm when, in just one day, they would soar overhead in their sled around the world in the cool skies. For now, they trudged down the road in the snow away from me, each one holding a lantern in their free hand that illuminated this special winter’s afternoon two days before Christmas.

I wondered where they were going: perhaps to check on the reindeer, which were bunkering up before the long journey by nibbling on the wintergreen lichen growing on the trees? Santa and his daughter are always so busy preparing at this time of year. Fancy them making their preparations right here in my neighborhood in Drottningholm, Sweden?

I walked home and felt the Christmas spirit coming on. Seeing all of the stuff in the stores hadn’t done it for me. In fact, I was beginning to find the whole concept of Christmas shopping one of alienation and terror. How could we, when we know what all of this superfluous stuff is doing to our planet? Future generations would consider us criminals. The peace of this deep winter’s afternoon, with the snow covering the palace rooftops despite valiant efforts to clear them this week, calmed me and I felt the urge to share the feeling. Perhaps I could light a couple of lanterns and put them out there in the snow in front of my house for passersby to enjoy. I hoped they’d understand that my lanterns were for them – particularly people I didn’t know – so that they might contribute in some small way to that one thing that makes Christmas indispensable: the rise of our common feeling of humanity.

An hour later there was a light knock on the door. It sounded like the small fist of a child. I opened the door and found it was Santa’s daughter with the lantern in her hand. She blinked twice and smiled gently without saying a word. Behind her, gathered in a small crowd of light, were many Santas, women and men, girls and boys. Someone had understood my lanterns, I thought. They launched into one of the most beautiful Swedish Christmas songs I know which starts with, “Light, light, wonderful light…” and two others followed. Santa’s daughter sang with all her might, hitting some curious and, as yet, undiscovered notes.

These days this sort of thing doesn’t tend to happen unless someone is out collecting for a good cause. I asked the question and then felt ashamed when the gathered crowd laughed and said, “Wish we’d thought of it.” It was then that I was reminded that one lantern attracts another, and that the purpose of their being there together is quite simply to make their common light grow, because that is as good as it gets. “Thank you,” I said to them in the most heartfelt manner I could muster. “Merry Christmas,! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!” they shouted, as they passed by my lanterns and walked out the gate back onto the street carrying their own light onwards.

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Wishing all of my readers and friends a wonderful and heartfelt holiday season.

As always, for more about my books visit www.julielindahl.com.

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Wolf Winter

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Wolf Winter

-14 but the weather woman says it feels more like -17. Dawn lifts the heavy darkness of winter enough to see the silver landscape. My glove sticks to the gate as I open the latch, and I gently peel it off again. The snow is so dry it sounds like styrofoam under my boots. My face feels the grip of winter on it; the skin feels stretched and ageing temporarily halts. The rest of me continues ageing under many layers. At least it is a warm sort of process.

The candelabras of Swedish Christmas have been dutifully placed in every window. They glimmer with familiarity: “Here we are again; the year has gone round.” Our windows are no exception. The children have grown and there is more time to do things on time. A pine wreath with a casually-tied red ribbon hangs on the front door. It is a gift made by a friend and symbolizes the essence of the season. The roof is covered with snow, disguising the need for a paint job. The house looks perfect in this wolf winter.

On Dog Island in the park, I spot what I think looks like a glimmering light on the park bench. Perhaps it is just the morning light hitting a metal hinge? No, it is a small candle, protected in a glass jar, that has been lit and left there by someone in the small hours. Was it the little bit of joy experienced by a homeless person who had found an unused candle at the dump, and used one of his last matches to light it? There are no marks in the snow on the bench. No one had sat there next to the candle. Was it the park attendant out early to surprise his beloved dog walkers? On a morning this cold? There was a spot of magic around this lit candle on the bench. Somewhere in the cold air was the thought that someone who needed it would find it in this wolf winter.

Home in the back yard, a cat’s tail swirls over the snow scanning for mice. Under the white insulation in small caves under the wilted garden brush, mice struggle to survive.  The cat crouches in the colors of a tiger waiting for the right moment. The wolf winter is cold and unforgiving, and warm and generous. Where there is contradiction, there is fascination, and so we go on with our celebration of light towards the darkest day.

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Order Rose in the Sand, Julie Lindahl’s prize-winning book about a decade lived on a Swedish island. Learn more about her non-profit for story-telling and the new initiative, Beyond Tolerance, at www.storiesforsociety.com.

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Morning on the ICE

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Morning on the ICE in Sweden

It’s a Sunday morning on the ICE. Were I in Sweden, it might have been possible to physically be on the ice, but here in northern Germany global warming has seen to it that there is no ice in early December. Instead the Inter City Express train shoots us through the flat, culturally-conditioned landscape. In Sweden we are still used to wildernesses. Here there are none. Still, there are mini-forests occupying small patches and straight lines dividing the fields, where man considers they should be.

In this land, the wind mills rise high above the earth in great clusters. Use of wind power is not a debate, it is a fact here, where the winds blow strong and unhindered across the flat landscape, and where people have recognized that it’s smart to go to the skies for power. In Sweden, people have debated about where to put the wind parks. Won’t they destroy our landscape? For myself, I think they are beautiful. Unfortunately, my back yard at home isn’t big enough for one. Perhaps this could be a suggestion for the king who lives across the road from me and has a bit more space in his back yard at Drottningholm.

At the train station I sat waiting for the ICE in front of a gigantic H&M billboard. Strangely, the models sporting the best of affordable Swedish clothing design looked Asian. I had expected that they would look more northern German, but it seems that we have come into a time when appearance frequently has nothing to do with nationality. Standing in a German train station where once the swastikas would have hung where the billboards are today, this feels like some of the most important progress we could be making as a species.

Out in the shopping mall next to the train platforms a young man outside The Body Shop entices women to try the latest body butter. It is interesting the way that global brands make you feel at home wherever you are. Whatever the challenges to local industry created by globalization, it is reassuring to know that humans can at times agree about tastes and smells. The globalization of this zone of life, tastes and smells, doesn’t seem to have reduced diversity either. Bratwurst, like smörrebröd or sill has simply been lifted out of its German, Danish or Swedish box into a globally accessible range of ideas about food. I like the thought.

As the ICE heads south, ice becomes ever less likely. Once we reach our destination, we’ll be somewhere at the Black Forest, just across from the French border. There I’ll be able to disembark and sniff at the air, hopefully to notice the smell of crepes from the cafes across the border.
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Wondering what to give a friend or loved one for Christmas? 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. Other books by Julie Lindahl available are: Letters from the Island (listen also to Julie’s podcasts from this site) and On My Swedish Island: Discovering the Secrets of Scandinavian Well-being.

Julie Lindahl is chairperson at Stories for Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to learning and communication through storytelling.

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Crisp thoughts in minus thirteen

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Time for thinking, not talking

The snow crunched that dry cold crunch under my boot soles as the morning sun hit the east facing side of the palace. It was one of those winter mornings that no sane mind would trade in for a day on the beach in Thailand. Lucy tip-toed on the freezing ground at first but then got into her stride as she too was taken by the pure gloriousness of this morning in our mutual playground, Drottningholm Park.

Out on dog island, an enclosure where dogs can socialize, doggie masters and mistresses urged their pets to get on with their morning ablutions so that they could return to the warmth of their blazing fireplaces. Lucy and I prefer not to go there (alright, I prefer not to go there) as it means that I have to talk and therefore cannot use these invaluable early hours to toss around thoughts and consider the connections. I don’t know whether it is just the effect of a decade lived on an isolated island of my own (read more about this in the page about this blog), but I often think that  people talk too much and reflect too little. Meetings, meetings, blaa, blaa, but where is the possibility to work out what it all means and to process it?

This morning my thoughts were definitely with the group of children I’d recently been working with at school. This and other projects I’ve been working on during the past year through my NGO (check www.berattelser.se  which will shortly be available in English language) have drawn my attention to how we handle integration; how we handle kids who come from war-torn countries and whose learning capacity as well as capacity for concentration has been affected by events that most of us cannot even begin to imagine; how we talk to their parents who want to participate in their children’s schooling but don’t know how to begin to do that in a society that seems to have tight systems for everything; how we get all children in Sweden to be curious about cultures that they are not familiar with rather than scared of them.

As the day went on I found myself watching  what is possibly Sweden’s most remarkable St. Lucia concert at the Ericsson Globe. 1000 candles are literally lit by countless youngsters from some of Sweden’s most prestigious music schools who sing Swedish songs of the season. I’ve been to this concert before and remember it as an experience that made me believe in this world again. While I thought it was superb again this year, something new struck me. Among the large number of children performing, almost all of the faces were white. This is not a criticism, simply an observation that hit hard after months of working in schools and increasing my awareness of the real Swedish student body. Where were they: the different colors that increasingly represent the place that Sweden is today? I couldn’t find them although I searched the performing crowd meticulously.

At day’s end I watched a bit of the endless media analysis of the terrible event in Stockholm on Saturday evening. You can read more about it elsewhere on this site. A senior journalist interviewed a panel of experts, asking them what could be done in the future to prevent such acts happening again. Most could only come with answers such as “keep a cool head”, “don’t over-react”, etc. The imam on the panel was in fact the only person who came up with anything close to what is needed: organized discussion among young people – an opportunity to vent frustrations and views that are based on anger and fear.

For myself, I had so many answers based on my experiences in schools, that I found myself shouting at the television. So, I guess I have some thoughts to sort out tomorrow morning in the park in the glistening winter sun. You got the uncut version (feel free to take whatever you like, WikiLeaks).

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Learn more about my work at schools at www.berattelser.se and stay tuned for the English language version. You can also learn more about my writing projects at www.julielindahl.com.

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In the peace of the snow

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Winter whispers in November

Sunday began with a walk in the snow-covered park. Lucy the dog gulped mouthfuls of fresh snow as she galloped through the sea of unexpected white. Her small soft ears fluttered behind her like two cashmere handkerchiefs. Wish I had something like those covering my ears today. It feels as though we are in February but it is only November. Is the coldest winter in a thousand years already here? The rumor had been circulating and I ignored it until the last three nights of ten degrees below zero (Celsius) in November.

On Friday afternoon, after a long week’s work, we trudged out to our summer island certain that the winter had beat us to the water pipes. Mounds of virgin white covered the paths, making it difficult to reach the house. To the left, a large indentation in the snow indicated that a moose had lain there less than an hour ago. I closed my eyes and  let my senses rest in the quiet. I remembered the many years of living here year-round. There was nothing like the peace of the snow and today I missed it in my busy, people-centered life.

My husband flicked up the lever of one of the taps and miraculously the water still ran. Had a little angel blown warm air over our pipes while we ran our frenetic lives in the city? We had been lucky and now drained the pipes so that the coldest winter in a thousand years would not ruin our plumbing.

I removed the many containers full of red currants that we had picked and frozen during the summer from the freezer. Inside these containers were an almost unbelievable memory of heat, dryness and the unrelenting buzzing of insects. Now the insects had fallen onto the window sills with the cold. My hands froze as I packed the containers into an IKEA bag to drag back to the city with me. Ridiculous to have a freezer going in this freezing house, I thought, and flicked the switch to ‘off’.

As I pulled the sled full of red currants through the forest toward the car, I remembered what it was like to stare into pitch darkness. If you look hard enough at it, you will always find a glimmer of light on the horizon. It’s one of those things that few people know since we live in cities of eternal light.

The lake was already closing up with islands of ice beginning to connect to one another and form large continents. Winter whispers everywhere and it is only November. Back in town I unpacked the candelabras that are customary in every window in Sweden starting on the first of Advent. The children long for the time to Christmas to rush and ask eagerly when we will be making the saffron buns, the gingerbread house and so forth. All of these things signify that we are moving one step closer to the moment of opening gifts. For myself, after another tiring week full of many impressions, I long to rest in the peace of the snow.

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Learn more about my writing and other projects at www.julielindahl.com. Join me at Facebook and/or Twitter.

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The Snow Community

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Heaven or hell?

Being snowed in can lead to a great deal of learning about the human condition. “It’s beautiful but I’ve had enough,” is the usual sentiment expressed by forlorn commuters upon finding that the subway stations are closed. We long for beauty but forget that it can be inconvenient and even require us to think again about how to do things. Even if the status quo gets us into a rut, it works and it’s the devil we know. Bring back the slush and the grey – at least it is functional!

Being snowed in can also show up humanity at its most resourceful. Early on a Sunday morning I drove my son to badminton so that my little cherub wouldn’t have to weather even five minutes of the chilly air. “Mamma – can’t you drive in there?” he pleaded with bassett hound eyes staring at the narrow road that constituted the last few meters to the sports hall entrance. With my son now deposited, I realized that I would have to back out of this narrow path flanked by great snow mountains on either side. Within less than a minute my Spanish-made front-wheel-drive vehicle had crashed into one of them and there I was a sitting duck in the beautiful winter.

Living closer to civilization these days has made me less responsible for my own fate. I hop into vehicles without gloves, a hat or even a snow shovel, expecting to move from one warm indoor environment to another with total efficiency. As I was kicking hopelessly at the snow caressing my back tire, a diminutive elderly woman with bright eyes stopped to look. “You’re not going to get very far that way,” she commented with the voice of experience. Her heavy Dalarna accent suggested that she’d been in a snow pile-up or two. “Come with me – my house is nearby and we can get you a snow shovel and – good lord, my dear, don’t you wear gloves?”

Following a twenty minute walk in which I learned that she and her husband were retired funeral entrepreneurs, diabetics and grandparents to three lovely grandchildren, we reached her home. I had met all of her neighbors whose dogs she walked from time to time in order to create interest during her daily walks. It is hard to look a funeral entrepreneur in the eye and not feel like potential business, but her husband was very kind and presented me with a wide selection of old gloves. The elderly lady insisted on walking back to my stranded vehicle with me and picked up “Cookie”, one of the local dogs, along the way.

I set about digging and Cookie barked. Another dog had turned up to observe with its owner, a robust middle-aged woman, who thought that she had a better snow shovel than I did. Five minutes later the two of us were shoveling, Cookie and “Meatball” were playing in the snow together, and the diminutive elderly woman had become our cheerleading squad. “Come on, ladies, you can do this without the men,” she cheered as though we were digging for all womankind. At that moment her kind husband pulled up in his car intending to haul us out with a chain attached to his trusty Volvo. Unlike his wife, I welcomed ‘mankind’ into our little snow community and hoped that his practical solution was better than ours.

With three women pushing at the boot of the car, our hero the funeral entrepreneur managed to drive my fragile Spanish car out of the snow heap. We jumped for joy, hugged one another and praised our trusty shovels. Without knowing one another’s names, we were friends – friends in the extraordinary community of humankind that snow and inconvenience creates.

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The Shifting of Swedish Space

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Space, the final frontier...

The birds are chirping and the snow on the ground is knee-deep.  The light has a softness in it that belongs more to the future than it does to the now when the earth is still hard and the branches bare.   These contrasts make the month of February an interesting and surprising time to be in Sweden and not at all the monotone freeze that this country has a reputation for being in until midsummer when the tourists begin to arrive.

Among the other contrasts that I notice this February are those that I see in the landscape of this country of supposedly charming rust-red houses trimmed with ‘carpenter’s delight’. A Sunday walk with my husband on the ice reveals a new and juxtaposing picture of architecture in Sweden and with this a shift in values taking place within a whole society. “This place is starting to look like America,” my husband comments as he notices the large waterfront houses that have shot up in no time.  My husband is old enough to remember Sweden in the 1950s so there is the possibility that he could be exaggerating. On the other hand, during the fourteen years that I have had the opportunity to observe Swedish coastlines from the ice, things have clearly changed.

The going gets tough as we hit a patch where the snow is so deep that it has insulated a layer of water between itself and the 40 cm-thick ice. We are forced to stop and look.  On the shore just up in front of us we behold three houses that tell a story of the rapid transformation of a cultural landscape that is happening without almost anyone commenting. To the right, at the bottom of a low hill nestled among the trees is a tiny house that looks like a DIY sports cabin.  It was obviously built to provide a simple base from which to enjoy the beautiful natural environment. To the left of this cabin is a slightly larger cabin with terrace and a small kitchen with running water. This place was also clearly built with life in the outdoors in mind. Even further to the left, perched up on the hill, is a great, grey house with no carpenter’s delight and a double garage.  It’s long row of front-facing windows demonstrates that it is clearly built for enjoying the outdoors from the indoors. Before us we have the story of late twentieth century and early twenty-first century Sweden. There is a shift happening from outdoors to indoors and from nature to convenience.

Sense tells me that it is important to resist a glorification of the past. In mid-winter indoor sanitary facilities are a great blessing. I know what it is like to weather a Swedish winter without running water (we’ll leave that story for my memoir of island life which is coming out later this year or another blog entry!). On the other hand, there is something about the rapid emergence of these big and rather unoriginal houses in a very short period of historical time that is disturbing. How do we actually create more space for ourselves in modern society? Bigger houses mean greater use of energy, more cleaning and less time in the greatest space we’ve got: nature.

There is of course another trend and one I have reported about at my e-magazine. That is, the rapidly increasing popularity of hermit huts and tree houses. People with the resources are today prepared to pay a premium for the opportunity to live in a designer ‘box’ for a night because it gives them an opportunity to taste a form of freedom that is available on a path that society is slowly relinquishing.

Two days later my husband and I walked past a recreation of Lådan, a 20 m square functional-style house built during the early 1940s, by the famous Swedish architect Ralph Erskine and his wife. We peered into the windows of this house which has become a charming historical relic in our area. The double bed hung from the ceiling and could be lowered to the floor by a well-designed pulley. One of our friends remembers that the Erskines “hung their infant daughter in a small hammock outside” on the terrace when they had guests who came to visit them during the summers. Today most people cannot imagine choosing such a life – even if only for the summers. Yet we glorify structures created by people who have made a determined effort to enjoy ’space’ in other ways by showing off their homes as examples of fine architecture. I am quite certain that the new instant giants along the coasts of Sweden’s inner islands will never be revered in this way.

Obviously, we are confused about what it is that truly gives us a feeling of space and freedom in our society. There is a gap between what we want and the choices we make. The next time you are out walking, skating or skiing on the ice observe and think about it, and please do get back to me. I’m still trying to work out the most lagom (meaning just about right in Swedish) solution for meeting my need for space.

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For links to places and designers working with hermit hut and tree house projects in Sweden visit http://www.nordicwellbeing.com/web/design/more_design/Hermitic_Design.php.

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Sweden from the Ice

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
Sweden from the ice

Sweden from the ice

If you are trying to find a new perspective on things this January there are few better ways to do this than by looking at your usual surroundings from a different vantage point.

As the mercury crept up from minus twenty to a balmy minus five this Sunday I began pacing around the house so as to become irritating enough for other family members to pay attention. ”It’s time for us to go out,” I pleaded with my husband and children who were wrapped up in their cushy winter cocoons with their respective hot coffee and hot cocoas. No one showed the slightest enthusiasm, save Lucy the dog who sat at the front door with ears cocked watching my every move with her chestnut eyes.

Eventually everyone slipped on their snow gear in the hope that I would be less irritating when we returned. As we crossed the first bridge that connects Drottningholm Palace to the city of Stockholm, in the distance we noticed a wide path on the frozen waterway that had been created by the indentations of many boot soles in the snow. People were walking back and forth to and from Stockholm on the ice. A woman pushed a pram through the snow with difficulty. This brought back fond memories of pushing a twin pram.

A sign for hot waffles with cream and strawberry jam lured my family off the main road. The cafe was crowded and I suggested we build up an appetite for dinner instead. My husband tested the ice on the frozen waterway near the cafe. Even if you know the ice, it is always tricky being the first. In the distance we noticed someone driving a truck over the ice. This convinced us that it was safe enough to walk around Lovö, the island that we live on.

Walking around the islands of Stockholm like this is a walk into history. The water or the ice was the most logical way to travel in the past. Seeing my island from the ice was like seeing a lost perspective. I remembered the grand steps at Drottningholm Palace that led down to the water. They didn’t make any sense today except as decor. Yet they made perfect sense in days gone by when the most comfortable way to arrive at the Palace was from the water.

As we approached our neighborhood from the frozen waterway I barely recognized the houses. For most of the days of the year, I saw them from the other side. Now they looked different. Life looked different. It was incredibly invigorating. Better than a day at the spa (which I never get around to), I thought.

If this weather holds it looks like we are in for one of the best skating seasons I can remember. Check out the links below for a little information to help you with seeing Sweden from the ice.

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www.utsidan.se: general information about equipment and read interesting personal accounts of getting out on the ice.

friluftsfrämjandet.se: general information about equipment, safety and interesting destinations to visit with organized groups that anyone can join.

www.skridsko.net : everything you ever wanted to know about ice skating in Sweden.

http://www.smhi.se/Produkter-och-tjanster/professionella-tjanster/sjofart/istjanst-1.1706- Check the daily ice map from the Swedish Meteorological Institute’s Ice Service (Istjänst).

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Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options