First snow

It seems that winter is coming, even though it will be milder than MN.

My basil gave up and even the mints aren’t looking great.

The grassy areas, trees, shrubs and cars were coated this morning, though it did not stick to pavement.

Only a trace remained by afternoon. Thought I’d document the change in the south esplanade, my route to the park and the border of the old part of Lund Central.

Here’s where I often park my bike before the narrow cobblestone streets begin. We live .5 mile south of the esplanade, which is usually a main artery, with flea markets and lots of pedestrians.

The lights are making it more pleasant to get out for a walk. This is Bantorget, near the train station and Grand Hotel. Lily is looking forward to trying out the mini skating rink which is open through February this year. Unfortunately the main rink is closed for COVID.

This is part of Vinterlund, the municipality winter programming. More on that in December, I suppose!

Måkläppen

Today’s outing was to a nature reserve near Falsterbo, where birds and seals are protected. It’s an island/ peninsula only accesible November through January, so in spite of the 25 mph winds, we headed out.

Starting at the light house, it takes about an hour trekking along the shore line to reach the end of the peninsula.

We enjoyed the fresh air and ocean views but didn’t get to see any seals today. A flock of swans in the tidal pools allowed us to get quite close!We’ll watch the weather and hope for a clear day without so much wind, then try to go earlier in hopes of seeing gray and harbor seals. The area has remains from hunter gatherers, including 8,000 year old stone tools from the Kongemose culture.

Ales Stenar och Ystad

Started my 50th birthday with breakfast at the Grand Hotel, a Lund landmark from 1899.

Then off to the coastal town of Ystad and nearby Ales Stones, like Stone Henge but not so big or ancient.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale%27s_Stones

The village, Kåseberga, is adorable and we’ll try to go back another time. It’s a nice walk with beautiful views, though it was cloudy so we couldn’t see far.

Did a bit of Outlander reenactment since I was dressed for the part!

Had a delicious lunch at a local seafood spot, and then headed to Ystad where we walked on the beach. Saw some unusual mushrooms up on the headland.

We even had some sun while at the beach! Found smooth stones for painting and enjoyed the scenery. Made it back before dark for my virtual parties with friends and family. There was even enough time to unwrap my 50!!! gifts from Cobber friends plus more 🎁 from family. I couldn’t ask for a better day. 🥰

Mårtensgås

November 11 (or evening of the 10th) southern Sweden celebrates the goose harvest with a feast.

The kids had the day off from school so we decided to celebrate in memory of my Swedish/Danish Grandpa Augeson, who loved roasted goose, potatoes and vinegar cream cabbage.

The most interesting part of the story, and the reason for the “gås” of Sankt Mårten, is that the geese are slaughtered for their betrayal -exposing Martin’s hiding place in the goose pen with their crazy cackling! Martin was trying to avoid being made the new bishop because he preferred a solitary, monastic life, but the miracles he was rumored to have performed made him in demand. And the geese pay the price for his unwise choice of hiding place! The feast also marks the start of a 40 day pre-Christmas fast, which later became Advent. This is when people begin decorating for the Holidays. Lund will have 3 large trees like this one in the aptly named Mårtenstorget.

Several of Bryant’s coworkers said that this year is the first time they’ve ever cooked a goose; due to covid they weren’t able to go out for the traditional dinner at a restaurant.

We also made the traditional Apple Charlotte, which is a European version of crisp, using bread as the crust. It had a pound of butter and is served with whipped cream. The little jar and the Pyrex measuring cup are both filled with fat rendered from the goose. The recipe says I now have enough to last through winter. Bryant says this dinner might cause gout!

Día de los Muertos i Lund

Much local excitement this past weekend of All Saints and Souls, when construction workers made a discovery while working on a project to improve drainage around Lund Cathedral. It’s been rainy and gloomy, so this story does seem to fit. It’s not quite as dark as my view of humanity after nearly half the US voted to allow a tyrant and his cronies to continue their assault against democracy. Anyway…

Here is the front of the Dom Kyrka from sunnier days, my tour in September.

And here is the work site at the back. The potential for water damage has been an issue since the beginning (there are various theories about why this spot was chosen, since it’s in the path of rains running toward the river out to sea) and many efforts have been made over the centuries to keep water away from the foundations. Archeologists are on site whenever they dig since there are often important finds to document. Local candlelight ceremonies for All Souls were cancelled due to Coronavirus.

And here is a photo from the newspaper, which says the sandstone coffin with an intact skeleton is from the Middle Ages. Two graves have been found under the staircase when it was removed.

Kanelbullens Dag

Stores are mostly closed on Sunday but our new favorite bakery opened especially for the occasion. In spite of the rain, I headed out at dawn to fetch fresh buns. It was surprisingly pleasant, very quiet, with no wind.

We’re into the rainy season so we tested Hilary’s back up plan for getting to her horseback riding class by taking the city bus. It was pretty crowded- I’m hoping we don’t have to use that option much. She really likes the class so far but didn’t want her family to go in with her 😢

Also tried a new coffee shop across from the Krognoshuset -oldest house in Lund.https://www.guidebook-sweden.com/en/guidebook/destination/krognoshuset-oldest-house-lund

We think the bricked-over windows might be due to the wealth tax on windows. But it’s just a guess. It houses a gallery/ museum but isn’t open during covid times.

I’ve been trying to get the blue tits to feed at our yard without attracting the sparrows, magpies and jackdaws. Above is the one decent photo I got of a juvenile blue tit. Its plumage gets brighter with age. Also took Hillary to look for “senior” photo locations since she graduates from Comprehensive school next June. They don’t make a big deal of it though, since it’s followed by 3 years at upper secondary school (Diploma Program) She likes the horse park, of course!

Old Lund

The old parts of Lund are tricky to navigate. Last night I ended up at the front gates of the international school, coming from the opposite side, somehow. It looks even more like Hogwarts at twilight!

I’ve done a few Citizens Hub Events. The latest was a tour of Lund Cathedral. Most details didn’t stick, but I do remember that the original wooden roof burned in 1234. And the crypt beneath was consecrated on June 30, 1123, making it one of Sweden’s oldest buildings still in use. There is a cool local legend about Finn, the Giant and his wife, whose statues are in the crypt (they’re probably Samson and Delilah and they predate the crypt itself)

There’s also an amazing astronomical clock, built around 1417 and restored so that it is still functional! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lund_astronomical_clock

It calculates date and time, but also the moon phases and hours of sunlight and darkness in Lund. It does all sorts of cool stuff.

The Mall

We browsed the local mall again today and saw these two shops with odd sounding English translations.

Needy stuff only!… whaaat?

And then this place with soft serve ice cream. Is that an American thing? I guess Dairy Queen might have pioneered that style.

It says American Spin Cream – the kids were embarrassed at my taking photos so I had to get it from a distance!

Side note, I’ve only seen two people wearing masks since we left the airport. Funny how quickly we adjusted to the idea of wearing them. Now it seems wrong to be going in public without them. But if we are the only ones wearing them is it worth the bother? The kids rebelled and I relented fairly quickly. It was drawing unwanted attention to us. We agreed to carry them to put on in any indoor place with more than a few people. And we have to carry our own sanitizer and wipes with us because stores don’t provide them. But there are plenty available to buy in the grocery store near us.

Day 34 – Easter Sunday – Påsk

Today is Easter Sunday, and there’s not much going on. I did find out about a thing that I thought was interesting – Easter Witches or påskkärringar. There’s a nice Radio Sweden bit on them here.

Around Easter, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays, so this is a 4 day weekend. Woohoo! Some colleagues noticed that I am flying solo in a hotel room, and decided to invite me over.

So, Friday, I had dinner with a lovely family that are from Britain, but have lived in Sweden since 1999. So, they speak English like Brits, but good Swedish. They have 3 kids around my kids ages, which is great. Had a great evening with them and even got a lift home. They live in Bjärred, so easy visiting distance. And their eldest kid attends Katedralskolan in Lund.

Then on Saturday, another colleague really got me for the whole day. They picked me up from the hotel, and took me to a nature refuge where we went for a really nice hike in some classic northern forests – Järavallen. After that, we went to their house in Ödåkra and had a lovely afternoon just hanging out and talking over fika, then dinner, then desert. I was very full when I went home!

I am starting to meet people, and even had a Swedish family invite me over for the day!

Day 31

Today is the last day of work before the Easter holiday in Sweden. Good Friday and Easter Monday are national holidays. Banks are closed (but, heck, they are closed most of the time already), and most other businesses will be on holiday. One of the interesting things here. In the US, when there’s a national holiday, its basically for everybody except the working poor in retail or food service. In Sweden, national holidays are for everybody, and they just shut things down. Grocery stores might be open, but you better have your liquor stocked up because System Bolaget will be closed.

Speaking of System Bolaget, that is the alcohol monopoly in Sweden – you can only buy booze there (other than being served in a bar or restaurant). I finally got around to going to one (since they too have bankers hours). It was actually a decent store with a good selection and good prices. People complain about the lack of options, but it’s a hollow complaint because SB negotiates on behalf of 10 million Swedes and gets a pretty good deal, of which they keep no profit. So, the selection and cost of booze is quite good! As long as you can get there when it’s open!

Back to Easter. It’s called Påsk here (pronounced “posk”, and has an etymology with Passover), and people say Glad Påsk for Happy Easter. The funny thing is, Sweden has these holidays on religious holidays, but this is a totally secular country. I suppose it’s a reversal of the early Christians that co-opted the vernal equinox with Easter and the winter solstice with Christmas, and now Swedes are taking time off for Easter, but nobody goes to church for it.

I went into the office today, and they had an “Easter feast” in the cafeteria, So, I tried it out. My colleagues said that basically all Swedish feast meals are the same.

Basically, a lot of fish. 2 kinds of pickled herring. 2 kinds of smoked salmon. Chicken kebab (which might be the most legit thing on there). Potatoes. Meatballs with a beet-in-mayo dressing. There was Brie cheese, and some weak melon. The basic framework for every Swedish feast.

And finally, today was my cleaning day at the hotel and the staff left me a little Easter egg. It was really nice!