hoped for

A 6:30 orange-pink sunrise paired with down time before the day begins. I am thinking about the days in June where the sun rises before five and sets well after eleven, and even then it's never really dark. Late-winter-early spring seems to me more about anticipation than anything. People say things like, "I am longing for spring," and "oh, how nice with the sunshine!" (It's more emphatic and joyous in Swedish.)

My anticipation factor is through the roof, at the moment. I can barely make myself stay indoors to get important things don, like food and house chores. I have a million plans and I will be lucky to see ten come to reality, but my inspiration notebook is filling quickly and the ideas aren't evaporating.

Things I am anticipating this spring:

Garden planting. Corn must be seeded inside in the next few weeks. New raised garden plot (and what will be a pumpkin patch) must be build and laid. That nasty red ant hill must be moved. New plum tree holes dug and prepared. Amongst other things.

Spring high teas. The first one is set in early April. I am unapologetically skipping completely the Swedish coffee, partly as a non-sensical personal 'take that' for all the times I have yearned for someone to offer a real cup of tea. Planning for: sandwiches (cucumber and alfalfa, egg and herb, chicken and curry) lemon squares with meringue, scones with mock Devonshire and jam, lemonade and honey.

Guests. My mom and dad visiting Sweden (again! bless them) around Max's first birthday. My cousin visiting around the beginning of summer.

Trips. Weekend in Stockholm in May, with my parents and Max. Our hotel is on the water in the centre, and a short walk from the old town. I have been looking forward to it since we booked it for a song and a dance in February.

Birthdays. Max is turning one year old in April. I am looking forward to making and eating my first "pancake cake", after a classic Swedish children's book in which the two main characters layer Swedish crepe-style pancakes, whipped cream, jam and fruit into a delicious stack. (Hm, this makes it appear as though Max's birthday is only about my selfish anticipation of good food!)

This anticipation list could go on for a long time. Briefly, a few more? Apple blossoms (with the hopes of delivering a branch to an elderly friend who doesn't get out much.) Picnics and visits to my favourite country cafe. Drying the laundry out-of-doors. No more fire building or telling Max to stop eating the firewood. And spontaneously meeting neighbors and friends on walks or in the gardens.


late winter afternoon

Sitting at a kitchen table spread with: papers with notes and scribbles from a writing project, opened bills, exterior house paint samples, Bibles and other books, credit card, dirty paper towel from Max's last face-wipe, water glasses, telephone, overflowing fruit bowl, pens, scarf, and a letter from the Swedish transportation department notifying me that I am now eligible for driving övningskör (learner driver).

As I have sat here, reading and typing, Martin has progressively fed Max a mash of fish and vegetables, then smörgåsrån with liver paste, followed by banana. He sits in his blue plastic high chair and awkwardly (yet capably, for a ten-month-old) operates a spoon with both left and right hand, dashing it into  both bowl and plate and growing angry if we dare presume to remove either tool from his grasp.

His first words are distinctly Swedish. It's still a bit strange to me. Titta. Look. And when handed food, tack tack. Thanks thanks. It's stranger still that the previously incomprehensible sounds of Swedish have become comprehensible words and meanings. The strangest yet is hearing and understanding Norwegian on television.

Thinking on these things and sitting here on a late winter's afternoon, warmed by the cozy chaos of family life, insulated from the fresh, heavy dump of snow we received this morning. (The snow ruined my hopes for pruning and wood cutting work, and building that raised bed for my pumpkins. But it also afforded a short snow-ball fight while Max was sleeping.)

Now for eating left-overs scrounged from the fridge and lying on the living room carpet for baby wrestling.


sweet sun

Shocking that a month has passed since my last post. If nothing is happening here, assuredly much is happening elsewhere. Those days have been filled with that stuff of life that seems hardly mentionable here. Things like working long hours, suffering through tooth ache and root canal, and stomach flu around the whole family.

Then there are things that are probably more mentionable, like Max beginning to walk. I have never watched a human being learn to walk before. It's totally fascinating and wonderful. I can't help but cheer.

The winter "cabin fever" that seemed to be pulling me under is subsiding with the glorious return of the sun. In just a couple short months we've gone from the notorious dark Swedish winter to the famed Swedish sunlight, the dawn beginning earlier than six, and the evenings filled with light. It's 7:26 a.m. and that glorious golden globe is beaming it's orangish pink light right in the kitchen window, while I am thinking about gardening and what seeds I will order online today.

Planning for this year so far: Several kinds of onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, lettuces, corn, pumpkins, herbs aplenty and hoping that we can get ourselves together to plant two plum trees.

Must do more reading and I hear Max a-calling.