Winter

Snow has come early this year. Already we have had three or four falls and with temperatures not rising much above zero for some weeks now the ground has stayed white and you could even say that winter is here. Last Spring came late, summer was short, winter is early. What has happened to global warning?

Snow lifts the spirits in the dark and dreary month of November. Its whiteness is always a relief, covering up the messiness of life. An ugly pile of building debris form a verandah roof we demolished some weeks ago now lies hidden under a smooth white carpet. It looks better but it worries me that it is still there, with the potential to cause injury to unsuspecting children who might see not a pile of splintered timber and tangled metal but a mountain of pure white snow waiting to be climbed on or fallen into.

Beauty can hide danger.

Weather dominates life here. Perhaps it does not dictate life now as it did hundreds of years ago before the days of electricity for warmth and easy transport for food and goods. But it still affects the way we are. During the long, dark days of winter people withdraw, they hide. They come out for work and school, of course, but streets and homes seem often deserted and lifeless. Windows may be lighted but doors are closed. When they are out, people are bundled into jackets and overcoats, often barely recognisable. They dash from home to car, from car to shop, and back again, longing for the warmth of home and hearth. There they find comfort and security and the quintessential Swedish cosiness. But it is not hard for newcomers to feel like outsiders. They see closed doors, and it is easy to think life is going on without them

Yet Sweden is known world wide as a land that welcomes immigrants, and the populace is changing in many ways, not least its appearance, as the olive complexions and deep dark eyes of the Orient and Africa appear among the blue eyed, fair haired features of the Nordic peoples. The Scandinavia of tomorrow will look very different to that of yesterday.

But how will weather shape that new prototype of Swede, Norwegian, Dane or Finn?

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