In some parts of Sweden, the last month of 2010 was one of the coldest Decembers in more than a century.
But as temperatures have crept back up above freezing in parts of southern and central Sweden this week, Swedes were also bolstered by news that spring may nevertheless arrive early this year.
On the Baltic island of Gotland, local media are reporting that the year’s first snowdrop buds have emerged from the ground.
The snowdrop, a small white, six-petal flower, commonly blooms by mid-March and is considered by many Swedes to be one of the first signs of spring.
According to the local Gotlands Allehanda newspaper, an entire bunch of the flowers has cropped up behind a park bench on Södertorg square in Visby.
The newspaper also reports that young pussy willows have also appeared in central Visby.
A January 7th pussy willow bud sighting in Götene municipality in central Sweden was also reported on a website detailing signs of spring in Sweden run by the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve.
With temperatures in Sweden continuing to hover at or below freezing this week, thoughts of spring may seem premature.
Thomas Carlund of meteorology agency SMHI told The Local that the early reported blooms don’t necessarily correspond to an early spring.
“It’s not that uncommon for snow drops and pussy willows to pop up in January in southern Sweden. I’m more surprised that the snow has blown or melted away so that the flowers can be seen,” he said.
Carlund was reluctant to offer up any predictions as to when spring may arrive in Sweden, but added that additional sunlight may at least help Swedes feel like spring is drawing ever-closer.
“The days are getting longer, so people will notice the increased sunlight more and more,” he said.