Summer is Short

When I first moved to Sweden at the beginning of fall 2006, I started language school almost right away. One of our early lessons centered around a well-known song. As I sat with my dictionary and translated the words to English, I was filled with a sadness and sense of dread that did not suit the upbeat, happy feeling of the song I was listening to. The summer is short, the chorus begins. And most of it is rained away. Great! But now it’s here, so take advantage of it. The sun is shining today! A few more lines in my notebook, then the chorus ends with The sun is shining – and maybe today is the only day. What is this guy so happy about? What have I gotten myself into?

Ten years later, five of them in the northernmost part of the country, and I feel the truth of this song. It is dark for months during the winter and when spring finally starts to arrive, when the sun starts to appear (and even more when you can feel its warmth!) and the snow starts to recede, the feeling is hard to describe to those who haven’t endured our harsh winters. And when summer weather finally rolls in… let’s just say Swedes know how to appreciate the sun when it comes. It never gets dark at night, so your backyard barbecue never needs to end or move inside (except that the mosquitoes are plentiful and resemble small birds – but who cares? Sun!) Summer cafes pop up everywhere with plenty of outdoor seating, because if there’s anything Swedes love more than the sun, it’s coffee. Coffee in the sun? Heaven. Ice cream is consumed in record quantities, every small pond has people swimming in it, and the whole country has the feeling of children on summer vacation. Because nearly everyone is on vacation – taking out their 4-6 weeks while all non-essential business basically shuts down for the month of July. Being outside is like a compulsion. Even if it’s not warm, you grab a sweater and a blanket and you get out there anyway. Because it’s summer, and we have a lot of catching up to do before the winter sets in again.

I’m sharing this by way of explanation for our relative silence on our blog and Facebook page recently. We’re having a streak of beautiful weather, and who knows how long it will last? It’s all we can do to get our kids to eat breakfast and get dressed before they’re outside for the day. And the camper is getting more than a bit messy, I’ll confess, because I’m not staying inside and cleaning it any more than is necessary for survival. I’m trying to stay in the habit of writing a little everyday, but nothing ever gets finished in the midst of interruptions to refill bubbles and water bottles, retrieve wayward frisbees and kiss scraped knees. And most of what I write is unfocused and not really worth publishing anyway. My pregnant self has a comfortable chair outside and a stack of novels from the library. We are mostly unplugged and offline. In other words, all is as it should be. It’s just not optimal for maintaining a blog.

swimming ice cream

Ice cream break while swimming at the pond. What could be better?

Sooner than we’d wish, the rain will return. Each day is a little shorter than the one before and all too soon the thousands of blueberry bushes all around our camper will be covered in a layer of frost. The fleeting nature of a Swedish summer is what makes it so precious, and now I understand the feeling of that song. It’s not about feeling sad about all the days are dark or rainy, it’s about appreciating the days that aren’t. Focus on now, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Carpe solis!

swedish summer

 

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