Another one of those Swedish words that is strangely appropriate, sommarlov means “summer leave,” which Swedes (and I) love.
It’s July. It’s light. Why would you go to work and sit in a dark office after a long dark winter? The city of Stockholm is empty except for the tourists, and the folks who have to stay here and work to support them.
We’re here for July too, having a little “stay-cation.” But we escaped for a long weekend a little while ago ourselves, heading out into the western woods to stay with friends at their summer house (på landet, as one might say, “to the land” or “out in the country”). We trundled around the countryside, seeking out good food and looking at junk and antique shops for tschotschkes for the house and for ourselves. Matt bought a 1950s hand-grinder for coffee beans; A&R bought a set of beautiful old dining chairs and an old oil lamp, among other finds.
Their century-plus-old house now has hot running water in the kitchen, but no toilet. It was fun to pee in the woods, except for the mosquitos — and the one night after we saw a mother moose and her baby. I have not been that alarmed outside (or in the bathroom) at night for a long time.
We saw the moose again on our way to bathe in the (cold cold cold!) lake nearby. It’s a short walk through managed forest, with young trees in orderly fashion that give way to clearcuts now and again. That’s one big difference between the northern forests in Minnesota and Canada, where I love going canoeing, and here in Sweden. Another is the houses perched on the shore across the lake. I’m told there’s wilderness farther north in Sweden — perhaps that’s for next summer’s leave.
Another plan for next summer: Run the Stockholm marathon. (Ha!) My stepbrother and his family are visiting at the moment. He ran the Jubilee Stockholm Olympic Marathon on Saturday, and we all went to cheer him on. It was really fun to see the volunteers and support crew dressed up in century-old fashion, with hats, bonnets, elegant dresses or suits; some runners attempted it, too, with the white head kerchiefs worn by the runners in 1912. But more often we saw oddities like the man in a Dalmation suit, or the woman in the pink ballet costume. More than 7,000 people ran the race, most of them looking pretty normal (at least for our time period).
So really, it’s not that empty here in Stockholm, even though all the Swedes are away for sommarlov.