My blogging seems to become less and less frequent as summer gains a hold on these northern lands. Its a week since I wrote a “postcard from Sweden.” The time fro blogging seems less now the summer is here, even though the kids are on holidays and my Swedish course has finished for the semester. We feel the Swedish “summer stress.” Whenever the sun is shining there is a feeling that everyone should be outside enjoying it. Perhaps this feeling does not affect Australians as much. But even for us there is the sense of sun starvation that is the legacy of a long, dark, cold winter
It is our first real summer here. One notices a lurking anxiety that the summer will soon be over. It snowed in Dalarna, and even closer to home, in the hills near Örebro, a few days ago. The week before it was over thirty degrees on a number of successive days. So it is in Sweden, where summer can be suddenly interrupted, even disappear, at its height. Maria’s father is worrying already that midsummer, which is only a week away, will be cold and wet. It is this anxiety that forces people out on sunny days, when there is an unwillingness to do anything except lie in the sun.
Today is such a day. It is sunny and the sky is blue, the temperature hovering around twenty. I feel vaguely guilty sitting at the computer and typing when I could be in the garden digging. Maria is sleeping, since she is working nights. She feels the waste of the day even more acutely and is irritated by her need to sleep. But only two more nights and she too will be on holidays.
The kids finished school on Wednesday. There are no “speech days” here as there are in Australia. We had a school ending celebration (skolavslutning) in the church, Brickebergskyrkan. But the idea of giving out prizes and awards to school kids is unheard of here. Everyone is equal. Individual achievement is not promoted or celebrated in the Swedish community. Competition is discouraged. So the school ending was a performance by different groups at school around a summer theme – the Mediterranean. Afterwards we sat on the grass and had fika (coffee and snacks) while the kids ran riot in the grounds outside the church.
Next week Hanna and Samuel are going to a tennis camp from Monday to Thursday. Thursday afternoon we are heading north to Dalarna for midsummer. We hope the weather will be fine!
The Swedish summer is some two months long and a metre deep. Dive into the Baltic, plunge down a few metres, and enter autumn, lying there in wait, far colder than the surface water. It is as if to receive a reminder of death, suddenly one feels that one’s feet are in autumn and winter, that the cold is merely waiting to come up and take over again, like a monster from the depths – no! quickly up to the sun again, it is now summer!
(Ingemar Unge, The Wholly Swedish Empire)