My first experience of Kilsbergen – the blue mountains west of Örebro – was of Ånnaboda. Since that first visit, which must have been more than 15 years ago, we have been many times to the little island dotted lake, Ånnabodasjön, which lies nestled between wooded hills. It is an easy half hour drive from home across town, past the Karlslund estate and then over the flat fields west of Örebro to the foot of the Kilsbergen hills. The hamlet of Garphyttan, where Maria spent her first four years, is the gateway to Ännaboda. Her father worked for some years in the wire factory there before the family moved into town. Garphyttan now is a satellite village of Örebro, with the wire factory still the only employer of any significance. Most people commute to town for their work.
Today, instead of joining the rush to town for the post Christmas sales, we decided to take a drive to Ånnaboda for a wander around the lake. We did not regret our decision. With the temperature a few degrees below zero and the skies clear the air was fresh and invigorating. Even in the hills the snow cover is light and patchy, but the lake is frozen so we could walk across the lake as well as around. There were quite a few out on long distance skates, one or two enthusiasts were sitting beside holes in the ice fishing. We were satisfied to wander and slide in the gentle winter sun. The thin layer of snow lying on the ice sparkled in the light.
It was hard to know how thick the ice was – experts can tell by hitting the ice with a pole and listening to the sound. We had to be content with stomping on the ice at the lakeside to listen for the telltale sound of cracking. We managed the afternoon almost incident free. Maria was unlucky enough to step through a patch of thin ice, thankfully right next to the shore, between two islands which we walked across. Maria seems to be dogged by bad luck at Ånnaboda. One time when we were in early Spring she unexpectedly fell off the pontoon by the beach, instantly submerged fully clothed in the icy water. She never knew quite how it happened… That day she was soaked through for the drive home. Today, thankfully, it was only her foot that was wet and cold.
But for us all it was a welcome break from home. It is easy to stay indoors at this time of the year, especially during holidays when there is no work or school to force us beyond the warmth of hearth and home. But after a few days indoors we all start to go a bit crazy, and despite the initial protests of the kids we were all refreshed by the day outdoors.