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In the peace of the snow

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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5 responses to “In the peace of the snow”

  1. Erik Nor Cal says:

    We just had our first frost of the year. Doubtful we will see any snow, usually 1 in 10 years do we see snow on the valley floor. Sierras are blanketed, ski season has begun. Will have to find peace else where.
    Not so much where you find it, its every where and in everything, we just need to be open to it. Create moments to find peace by taking a moment to slow down, catch your breath, clear your mind, peace will come. A step outside on a cold clear night, moon rising, sounds of geese flying overhead bring peace to me this time of year.

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  2. Hi Erik,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I guess what I miss is the near total quiet which I experience out there and that is so hard to find these days.

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  3. Monica says:

    We are now a week out from our little snow storm that came in from the North and dumped 6-12 inches of frozen snow on the ground. We had tempuratures dip down to -9C last Tuesday and now it is much warmer and raining all week no more snow. Enjoy your peace and quiet snow days.

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  4. Les Drew says:

    Hi Julie

    I have been reading your stories all through the summer and loved the pictures you painted. I will be visiting my wifes family in Stockholm in February and cant wait. Whilst I love Sweden in the Summer I prefer the Winter. To be able to walk around the city when it is much quieter is a joy. Just to be able to walk through Gamla Stan, freezing and to stop in one of the cellar cafes for coffee is bliss.

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  5. Hi Les & Monica,

    It used to be very quiet walking around in Stockholm in July since that is when most Swedes tend to evacuate the city. However, during the years I have been living here it has become increasingly crowded throughout the summer due to increasing visitors. So, yes, the winter can, in comparison, be a great time to visit the city too. Just make sure to remember those layers!

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