Tag archives for Spring

Adventure to Vollsjö Mill

You don’t meet many people who are passionate about historic windmills. (I don’t, at least.) This weekend was the exception.

I first started talking to Cecilia about the windmill in Vollsjö sometime last fall over Twitter. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the 140-characters-or-fewer messages I was reading—Does this woman really own a windmill? How? WHY?

In the following months, a few things became clear: she is an expat living in the countryside of Skåne (the southernmost region of Sweden), she is learning Swedish, and yes, she owns a windmill.

From the way Cecilia tells the story, her family’s life story sounds a lot like a romantic comedy mixed with a historical period piece. Add a few vampires into the mix, and you’ve got a best-seller on your hands: multinational couple with family moves into historic building with the best of intentions, weird stuff starts happening, VAMPIRES! And of course there will have to be a girl with a dragon tattoo.  (I made up the last stuff. That was not part of Cecilia’s story.)

On our way to Vollsjö Mill. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

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Happy, In Love, Content

This morning I woke up three times. Once at 7, because the radiator was emitting a high-pitched whine; once at 8, when Simon got up; and finally around 10:15, because I was having a dream that I was eating a chocolate fudge cookie. The horrors, right?

From what I can tell, Catholics are few and far between in Sweden, although I haven’t put that much effort into finding them, either. In the absence of a community here, I am selectively observant of the religious traditions I grew up with, one of which is giving up something for Lent. I gave up eating sugar for the prescribed 40 days, and even though I’ve made multiple exceptions for various birthday events, I am (for the most part) holding strong in my sugar-free existence until Easter.

One of the exceptions to the sugar-free Lent... Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

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B-List Signs of Spring

Before I lived in Sweden, spring was a time of year that I looked forward to and enjoyed. End of story.

Now that I’ve lived in Sweden, I have a completely different relationship with spring. Spring is renewal! Spring is rebirth! Spring is a season in which winter clothing is joyfully and deliberately shed, one layer at a time! Spring is something to be savored and rejoiced in.

In that vein, I first learned about “vårtecken,” or “signs of spring,” about this time last year, when I was coming out of my first Dreadful Swedish Winter. I was instantly enchanted by the concept.

Vårtecken lead to “vårkänslor,” or the feelings of happiness brought about by the coming of spring, and therefore I am all totally obsessed with finding and cataloging different signs of spring in order to reassure myself that yes, winter is really and truly giving way to spring! 

Normally, people understand the word “vårtecken” as including a variety of spring flowers, different birds returning from their winter residences on the Mediterranean (jealous), and an obsessive interest in the weather/hours of sunlight.

One thing I just learned from the Sustainability blog here at Sweden.se is that you can actually become an official, registered observer of spring (that’s “Phenology Observer,” to you) and report your findings back to the Swedish Meteorological Institute, which is totally awesome. If I knew anything about nature, which (sadly) I don’t, I would be so there.

Leaving tradition behind, however…

I’m going to go ahead and take a quantum leap in the common understanding of vårtecken and say that there are way more signs of spring than just those found in nature. In celebrity gossip terminology (a field of knowledge in which I have a deep and abiding interest), sprouting crocuses and budding wildflowers would be the “A-list” signs of spring. Everyone recognizes them and can name their last five romantic partners gets excited about them.

But what about the B-Listers? They’re people signs of spring, too! You know, the rash of bedazzled twigs and seasonal soft drinks and (ahem) important birthdays!

Since I am well and truly obsessed with spring (thanks a lot, Swedification), I just had to make a list, and here it is, the “B-List Signs of Spring.”

Feathers, feathers, everywhere! Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

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Bring on the Spring!

Signs of the season: spring flowers, muddy sidewalks, balmy breezes and best of all—sun, glorious sun!

Two weeks ago, I was surprised to wake up one weekend morning because of sun shining into our bedroom, a first in this new apartment. Now the sun is up ahead of me even on weekdays, making it unnecessary for me to turn on the kitchen light as I groggily make my way towards the coffee pot in the morning.

And would you believe it, I’m finally down to wearing just one coat and one pair of socks instead of two of each.

Blooming flowers, sunny train stations, babbling brooks: Spring! Spring! Spring! Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

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Good friends + sunshine + warm weather = One fantastic Valborg

The weather was amazing, the drinks were flowing, and Lund’s Stadspark (City Park) had a record number of visitors—25,000 people crammed together to party the day away. There were already 1,000 people laying claim to their territory at 9:30 am, and despite their early start, they were overrun by the floods of people crowding in afterwards.

I started off the day with a champagne breakfast at our friends’ house and made it to the park around 10:00. At that point, it was already hard to move through the patchwork of blankets, picnic baskets, and partiers.

Even as my friends and I gathered for breakfast, there was an excited tension in the air—excitement, enthusiasm, a fair amount of tiredness, and the sort of nervous energy that comes before an important event. There had been so much build up for Valborg before the big day that I had begun to feel a little skeptical about the hype.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. Valborg. It’s cool.”

As I walked with everyone to the park, though, it was clear to me that my friends hadn’t overstated the Valborg mania that takes over Lund. The  good weather only amplified the effect.

Good friends, sunshine, and warm weather: Valborg couldn't get any better than that. Photos: Kate Wiseman.

Normally Lund is a fairly sleepy town, so I was totally unprepared for the madness at the park. In my mind, I expected mild-mannered picnicking and slightly rowdy groups of students punctuating a generally well-behaved crowd. Instead, I was met by hordes of people, mostly between 15 and 30 years old, dancing, drinking, making out, sprawled out in beach chairs and on blankets… but somehow all this was accompanied by the overwhelming feeling of everyone being incredibly happy. Outside of similar party weekends at college, I’ve never experienced such a feeling of mass euphoria. Everyone was just radiating a party mood.

Sometimes when you get a huge crowd of people in a small area, it can start feeling dangerous or out of control. That was definitely not the case in Lund. If nothing else, than the well-mannered lines for the Porta-Potties can be a testament to the respect that Swedes have for order, even when the call of nature and drunkenness were clouding good decision-making in other areas.

And of course, since it’s Sweden, everyone was ridiculously good looking. I saw so many girls wearing shirts intentionally baring their stomachs, and while I question the logic behind the look, I wasn’t disgusted by a single one. Now there’s something that’s special to Sweden. You know if it had been Austria or the United States, there would have been an incredible number of beer bellies and muffin tops on display. Not in Sweden.

Everything started getting a little fuzzy around early afternoon. Considering that I started out the day at 8 in the morning with champagne in one hand, coffee in another, it probably should come as no surprise that I crashed and burned around 3 pm… but waking up around dinner time with a pounding headache was a sad moment for me as a 20-something. My only conclusion is that I am old and weak and terrible at partying. Next year I’ll be in training so that I’m fit to fight.

I missed the bonfires, but I bicycled through town later that evening to go to another friend’s house for a party. It was a little like bicycling through an alternate reality. There was trash everywhere. It wasn’t just me—the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported today that Lund’s Valborg had gone without any major mishaps but that the town was “dirtier than ever before.”  Seriously.

The aftermath of Valborg in Lund... a far from ordinary scene. Photo: Kate Wiseman.

If the original purpose of Valborg was to celebrate the arrival of spring, then mission accomplished.

Final score for the day: Valborg 1, Kate 0. Valborg earned the win with the midday knockout, but I’ll be back stronger and meaner next year. And next time I’ll make it to the bonfires!


Useful phrases for Valborg in Lund:

Remember the sunscreen. Kom ihåg solkrämen.

I’ll meet you in the park! Vi ses i parken.

Lawn chair Brassestol

“Make every other drink a water.” Drick varannan vatten. (Swedish saying.)

Where are the bathrooms? Var är toaletterna?

Bonfire Majbål

It’s time to light the fire. Det är dags att tända elden.

Oooh, fire. It’s burning. Oooh, eld. Det brinner.

Headache Huvudverk

Hangover Baksmälla

I am hung over. Jag är bakfyll.

Coffee, please. Kaffe, tack.

Recovery Återhämtning