Arctic Spring

We decided the risk of traveling within Sweden was minor and booked a trip to Kiruna, the northern most city in Swedish Lapland. It’s north of the Arctic Circle in Sàpmi (Sami cultural region) taiga forestland with long winters.

Traditional Sami foods, cooked over the fire in a làvvu reindeer, moose, lingon and cloudberries prepared in different ways, as well as many gourmet dishes awaited us at the resort hotel, which caters to foodies. So we enjoyed lots of caviar, smoked fish, meats (and even eggs) artichoke whiskey soup with cauliflower chips and freeze dried beets, pickled squash and shiitake risotto, and wonderful desserts and breads. Birch burl “kuksa” of coffee or lingonberry juice were a nice authentic touch.

Reindeer stew!

The weather was good, melting a bit during the day and freezing when not in direct sun, making for very slick surfaces. I couldn’t do much walking, but it made for some fast moving dog and reindeer sleds! This guy’s name means Power and he was running so fast that I missed a shot of him pulling Lily and Bry on the sport sled.

The sled dogs were extremely fast and on icy spring snow pack; they had to use a smaller team of dogs to prevent them from going too fast.

For me this trip was a lot of Type 2 fun, appreciated more after it’s over than while it is happening. I tried to embrace the opportunity to try some new things, including the outdoor spa, which I genuinely enjoyed and would do again! Usually hot tubs and saunas are too warm for me but the outdoor versions kept me from over heating.

Lily discovered an interest in snow mobiles and Hilary took to nighttime photography, more on those adventures later.

Bornholm

A Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, Bornholm is still closed to tourism.

It used to be a fishing community, but in recent times it is known for biking, hiking and culinary culture.

My great-grandfather, Fred, was born there in 1880 Fred’s mother’s family lived there for generations. His father, Per, was an immigrant from Sweden who earned his living fishing until the decision was made (with his Bornholmska wife and other family members) to leave Bornholm and try farming in the American Midwest.

The island has since become famous as a foodie destination and for its artisanal products, which always catch my eye in the food markets around Lund. I wonder what Fred would think of this development!

Per fled Sweden due to famine and a few years later immigrated again, taking his young family including Baby Sigfred across the ocean to farm. Now his great-grand daughter buys gourmet farm products from Bornholm…the latest being this basil pasta made from bornholmsk wheat and beer. We prepared it with Norwegian shrimp from our Fiskbil delivery- amazing!

We look forward to more gastronomical adventures when we can finally travel to Bornholm.

Face Mask Machinations

There is one issue in Sweden that has annoyed me from day 1. Sverige seems like a country that would put the public good ahead of individual freedoms. The leaders claimed they were following the science on all issues related to covid 19 so why are they ignoring the data on mask effectiveness?

We’ve been wearing masks in public indoor spaces and outdoors if there are space issues. There are lots of internationals here in Lund so it’s not uncommon, but the vast majority of people do not wear masks. It seems to me that people are choosing to misinterpret the lack of mask recommendation by the Swedish Health authority to mean that the “risks” outweigh the benefits. It’s not really clear what they think the risks are!

The story below cites a hindrance to communication as a reason for not allowing the student to wear one in school. I’m occasionally asked to remove my mask for identification purposes in situations where it seems completely unnecessary, but most of the time no one says anything. Once a person seemed to cough deliberately in my direction. Some kids at the mall made rude comments in English, and once a man in the grocery store talked to me animatedly in Swedish while gesturing to the distance markers on the floor. I assume he was trying to tell me that keeping distance is enough and that I shouldn’t be wearing a mask, but I don’t really know.

Our kids were questioned repeatedly by classmates and teachers about mask wearing at school, in a manner that made them feel they needed to defend the science and our choice, but no one asked them to remove the masks. A few teachers and kids now wear them regularly. And although Sweden denied any strategy of herd immunity, we do believe that a large number of teachers and staff at ISLK have already had Coronavirus, so the atmosphere is now more relaxed.

It does seem like they meant to “allow” healthy young people to get sick, making personal responsibility the main strategy for protecting the vulnerable. I think that message runs counter to Sweden’s stated prioritization of responsibility to society and raising good citizens.

This story got me “hotted up” to borrow a local expression (I think it’s British)

https://feeds.thelocal.com/app/ios/article.php?id=stockholm-school-sends-pupil-home-for-wearing-face-mask

And below is an update to that story…

No, Swedish schools can’t send students home just for wearing face masks

Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT has spoken with Sweden’s Education Agency (Skolverket) after The Local last week interviewed a motherwhose 13-year-old son was sent home from school after he refused to remove his face mask. The school said it was following Stockholm’s coronavirus recommendations on face masks, but the infectious disease unit in Stockholm said it had issued no recommendations on masks in schools.

Skolverket told SVT that Sweden’s Education Act does not give schools the power to send students home for wearing or not wearing a face mask. “The only situation really where you can send a student home is if the principal decides on suspension, if that option is needed to secure other students’ safety and studies,” said a spokesperson.

Swedish vocabulary: suspension – 
avstängning

I’m pretty sure the Health Authority determined that the potential divisions that would arise from any kind of mask mandate would outweigh the benefits. Instead, it seems like we have the divisions without the benefits. I also wonder if they decided to avoid any decision about face coverings in order to steer clear of the controversies surrounding religious face and head coverings. I guess I can understand that goal, but it’s so frustrating that a simple, common sense strategy to help people stay healthy is in any way controversial. People are stupid.

Påskkäring, Easter Witch

My friend, Brandie, suggested we get out of town for a bit since her husband and daughters are working from home this week due to Swedish guidelines regarding the new covid variant.

We drove to the southern most point, Smyghuk but it was under construction so we went to Vellinge Blommar, a huge garden center with gift shops, cafe and displays, like Bachman’s. They do a big haunted house in the Fall and are currently going all out for Spring!

I learned about the Easter Witch, an odd blend of pagan and Christian traditions with elements of Halloween, May Day, Easter etc.

In ye olde days, folks would scare away and/ or hide from witches who might be on the prowl during their meetup with The Devil. In modern times, kids dress up as witches and carry baskets of homemade cards or spring branches to give out as they go door to door in search of treats. And now witches are a big part of Easter decorating!https://www.minnesotanoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/img_6833-2.mov

https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/easter/

The video clip doesn’t have sound for some reason. The witch was talking about getting all of the eggs painted in time for Easter.

This week I plan to clear out the winter decor and bring in a bit of Spring. Hilary is doing remote lessons until March 9, while Lily is in-person. The ice skating rink and ski track are no more, but the patios are reopening and international citizen’s hub has resumed a few outdoor events

Kings Park

Spent the day in Malmö while Bryant took his driving hazards test. He’ll post about that interesting experience sometime!

Cloudy but warm, 53 degrees. A nice day to roam around, but the kids stayed home to clean their rooms

Malmö castle as it used to be…

And how it is today, with restorations

“Diana” sculpture (meant to look magical by moonlight) Some trees remain in Kungsparken from 1872 when it became the first public park in Malmö

Man and Pegasus (there is a copy in Iowa, too!)

Birds have been on the move lately. Saw a flock of about 10 trumpeter swans flying in a V formation. So cool to watch the swans land on ice!

These gray herons seem to have a nest near the windmill and they were staying close by.

And here are the old and new libraries just across from the park.

IKEA Digital Days

Pre-covid, Bryant’s big event would have been at an exciting international location. Instead he got to travel to a studio in Malmö where his game show style presentation was broad cast live to 5,000 people via the internet!

His segment was well- received, and he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. Plus he was able to see some other people irl for a change.

Here is an edited down excerpt from some of the sessions:

Luckily I’m an introvert or I would have been jealous. But it is too bad that we didn’t get to go somewhere fabulous…the last two years were Amsterdam and Shanghai! Instead I went on my usual walk, although this time I found a sunny spot to listen to a piano recital outside the University amphitheater.

Snow

About 2 inches fell this week, and though some melted, enough remained to change the scenery and provide sledding opportunities. Our kids weren’t interested, but lots of neighbor kids made the most of a small hill near the bike path.

At least the colder weather has made the paths less muddy!

Kulturen

This open-air museum (the White House) in the heart of historic Lund is a collection of Swedish architecture from all eras. Some structures remain on their original sites while others were relocated and restored using authentic materials and techniques. The project began in 1882 at a time when the City was modernizing sewers etc, and so includes artifacts uncovered, dating from the Middle Ages. The indoor/ outdoor living museum now exhibits Swedish culture up to 1930.

While the indoor exhibits are closed, the grounds are open, so an area which is normally crowded with tourists is now easily accessible! I’ve been taking full advantage of the opportunity to walk there most days. The first building, known as Locus Peccatorum, was the site of an infamous murder.

Each building has an exhibit related to its time and place in history, such as the printing museum. The Deanery is one of the most interesting, with its medieval elements and historic moments that are attached to the place. It reminds me of visiting the Columbus house in Spain and seeing the actual furnishings used by his family. I’m really looking forward to the Elsa Beskow exhibit.

Exploring Kulturen has been a nice distraction while we wait for things to reopen. Hilary’s grade starts back to in-person next week. Covid rates locally fell by 40% over the last 2 weeks and Sweden tightened up borders, hoping to stop the UK strain. Waiting for Spring!

Ice on the streets (and in my heart)

With temperatures hovering just around freezing, and rain overnight, we skipped this morning’s walk. By the time I headed out on errands (pain meds and new toothbrush to assist Lily with her braces, poor kid), the sun was out and most ice had melted. Before sun up we heard lawn-mower-like sounds and assumed the city was de-icing streets. I think it was the machines that put down this nifty pattern of ice melt. I walked 2 miles and didn’t notice more than a couple of slippery patches. They were very thorough.

Lily walked to school because of the ice but it appears she would’ve been fine biking.

The pond ice must have melted in the rain yesterday and it wasn’t quite cold enough to refreeze. The swans seemed happy!

And some roses just won’t admit it’s winter!

This might be the last visit from Little Robin Redbreast because the condo association says we shouldn’t feed the birds anymore. We don’t think it’s worth the energy to pursue the matter, but it pisses me off.

I’m feeling quite anti- Sweden lately. They also moved forward with a plan to require Swedish language testing for citizenship. And this is under center left leadership. I hope they take note of what happens when fascist bullies go unchecked. It’s a slippery slope!

Winter

35 degrees today but with quite a strong wind at Lomma. It must have been pretty cold for the kite surfers!

In spite of the clouds, we could see the Turning Torso in Malmö pretty clearly and even a bit of the Oresund bridge. There were several ships visible as well.

Bryant will likely add some of his photos. It was so cold that I didn’t have my phone out for long! We walked out on the pier where we had an excellent view of the kite surfing. I was amazed at their speed and how high they could soar above the water.

I think we had some effects from Filomena. Mostly rain and some flakes that didn’t accumulate, unlike the unusual snow in Spain! Here are Laura and Marina, making the most of being stuck in Portillo due to dangerous roads.

And the swans at Stadsparken make channels through the ice. The sound is interesting, especially as they swim away at the beginning of the second video.https://www.minnesotanoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/img_6236.mov

https://www.minnesotanoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/img_6241.mov