Signs of summer

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The week began with Sweden’s national day. It ended with “Studenten” – Graduation Day for high schools. Last night the city was crawling with revelling students, clad in formal attire and graduation caps. In between there was “skolavslutning” – breakup day for the younger schools – and “Marknadsafton” – an evening when the streets of the city are lined with open stalls and a festival atmosphere envelops Örebro. The weather has been warm with some dramatic cloudbursts, punctuated by thunder and lightning, but mostly sunny: the closest thing to “hot and steamy” that Sweden ever gets! The whole week has had an air of celebration.

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Now the kids are on holidays at last, the pool is up and filled with water for a daily icy dip, the mosquitos are out in force, flowers are blooming, the sweet perfume of summer fills the air. People are starting their holidays – Swedes take as much of their annual leave in the months of June, July and August as they can. Workplaces seem half deserted these three months. This is not time for work, this is the time to live! Sleep ins and lazy mornings, pottering in the garden, barbecues, sitting in the sun with a good book, or loading up the car with caravan behind and heading off for a rest somewhere else, hopefully by the sea or a lake with the chance for swimming and sunbathing. Nowadays many travel overseas for their holidays, but with Sweden at its peak of natural beauty and warmth I sometimes wonder why.

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We started the summer last weekend with a quick trip to Orsa, to Maria’s family’s summer cottage, the little log cabin which has become like a second home to us in the five years since we came to Sweden. This time we journeyed there with Australian friends, Tim and Suzy and their boys, Morgan and Kyle. They have come to Sweden to work with Operation Mercy, the Christian NGO where Maria works. It was fun to show them something of “our Sweden.” Orsa for us means summer holidays. Last year we cycled around the big lake, Siljan. Who knows what this year will hold. Of course we are often there in winter too, for the skiing, but with temperatures often far below zero it does not have the same relaxation quotient when the ground is a metre below the snow’s surface.

Now winter is far from our minds. It is the time for singing. Life has burst forth again in this cold northern land, and we can breathe again.
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Genomstrålad av värme, perforerad av liv
Rakt igenom all min oro, är jag till här och vilar i Din frid
I Ditt ansiktes ljus ser jag ljus…
Gud gör mig mer, mer lik Dig idag.

Radiated with warmth, perforated by life
Right through all my worries, here I am resting in your peace
In the light of Your face I see true light
God make me more, more like you, today
(Bengt Johansson)

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