Tuesday, July 28, 2009


At the moment, I’m in the woods, outside a small cabin that my Grandma and Granda built some time in the early fifties. I spent a lot of time here growing up, and in all ways relevant, it’s still more or less the same. There’s still no water closet, the only running water comes directly from the lake and shouldn’t be used for drinking, and all around are pine trees, wood peckers and squirrels. The strongest sound around is the soft sound of the wind on the lake, about 40 metres away. An enormous bumble bee just landed next to my lemonade, had a look around, then took off.

In short, I’m vacationing in Paradise.

When my Australian friends tell me about their impressions of Scandinavians, there’s always one thing they seem to be especially fascinated by: when Scandinavians encounter the Sun, they all strip down to their undies, lie down on the ground, and don’t move for hours. Or until they have to move because the Sun moves away. Since all Australians know that the Sun is dangerous and will cause melanoma, and is in general a harsh lover, they all wonder how Scandinavians can be so careless. A good question indeed.

In order to answer it, let’s look at a culturally significant object: songs regarding summer. One of the best known and loved summer songs is Idas sommarvisa (“Ida’s summer song” from Astrid Lindgren’s stories of Emil). The lyrics tell of how we shouldn’t think summer’ll arrive just like that: we’ll have to work for it! Another often played song about summer, Sommaren är kort (“The summer is short”, by Tomas Ledin – doesn’t the title say it all?). The song starts (in Swedish, but a quick and dirty translation will have to suffice):

Summer is short
Most of it rains away
But now it’s here
So grab a piece of it
The sun is out today!

So that’s what we do. As soon as the Sun shows its face, we say to each other: “It’s a shame to sit indoors in this lovely weather!”, drop whatever we’re doing, and head for the beach. Or the nearest lawn, as long as it’s big enough for our blankets, and then we lie down, and worship the sun.

I could write about the depressions that spread across the nation when Summer has been grey and rainy, I could write about the suicide statistics, or about our traditions of institutionalised tea lights and cookies to pick us up during the dark months, but instead I’m going to describe what T and I are doing right now.

Right now, we’re sitting outside, computers in laps, in order to maximise the Sun exposure. We even changed into smaller outfits with less skin cover to get a better exposure, more heat, more vitamin D. The past couple of days here in Paradise have been rainy, cold and grey, so now we’re grabbing a handful.

Paradise is beautiful, and warm!