It rained here near Stockholm last night. I know, Minnesotans right now are soaked, but here we are in a heat wave and a drought. It hasn’t rained since May in most areas in Sweden, and if there has been any, it was too little to nourish plants. They are reporting 61 independent wildfires in Sweden right now, with 4 of them being too big to be extinguished. There has been a fire ban on for at least a month, which means when I camp I have to bring things that do not need to be cooked, as even my little gas camp stove is illegal. My friend, Evelina, who lives here, commented that it is so dry, pieces of glass can create a magnifying effect and start fires.
Farmers are suffering, and there is talk of government help, but the people I talk to don’t seem to know exactly what that means. The main concern is the crops for the animals, and having enough food for them to survive the long winter. There were no true spring greens from anyone’s garden this year, and it is hard to find fresh produce in the stores.
It has been hot here, with highs this last week being a consistent 30-31° C (86-87.8° F). I know that doesn’t seem hot for many Minnesotans, but remember it is normally around 24° C (75° F.) Sweden does not really have air conditioning because it doesn’t stay hot long, and nights
usually get cooler. The house where I stay for example, doesn’t even own a fan. That is common. Busses and subways are hot and humid and bring on instant sweat. I have been finding beaches all over to visit just to bring my body temperature down for a few precious hours. It is interesting to me, as I didn’t have air conditioning in my house in Red Wing, and rarely turned it on in my house in Stillwater (more for humidity than heat.) But the lack of fans and air circulation really creates a difference in the experience of the heat. And Swedes are talking about the weather because of the drought! I haven’t experienced that until this week.
Yet there are many bodies of water here. Stockholm is part of an archipelago, and there are many clean, beautiful lakes to be found here. It is an interesting juxtaposition-to have so much water yet see the
plants be so dry. But I find when I am hiking that the land is also very rocky in many spots, kind of like you would see near the north shore. Lots of moss and shallow-rooted trees breaking through the rocks.
Yesterday, I went to one of the islands called Lånholmen. Although it’s an island, it is part of the archipelago, and is very easily accessible as if you are just crossing a river. There is a great harbor here that contains mostly wooden boats (pictures below.)
Even though it is very hot for Swedes, they are all still actively outside, as summer is precious, and many are still on holiday. Most people get 6 weeks of holiday here per year, and they treasure it. Many people take their holiday in the summer, when they can enjoy the beauty of the country and relax after the midsommar parties.
Last night, I went to an outdoor social dance and my friend Evelina taught me how to bugg, which is a popular Swedish traditional dance that is similar to a swing, but the steps are in a straight line instead of at an angle, and is also a bit more contained for those who are not professional dancers. Even though I love swing and salsa, this had a different feel to it, and was a bit challenging for me to follow the leads properly with many of the spins. But I tried, and people were very friendly and helpful as they taught me what I was doing wrong. 🙂
But it was hot, even with the outdoor atmosphere, so the ferry ride back across to Stockholm to take my train home was lovely and refreshing.
I hope this finds you all well and happy. Enjoy the summer weather, and if you are enjoying what I have to write, please comment! It’s so fun to get feedback from all the people back home. Now, I’m off to another beach, this time near Farstra Strand, then perhaps another round of dancing tonight.