Observing Sweden – Spring


How to chat to Swedes when the sun comes out

Excerpt from: The Local

Published: 30 Mar 2016 07:29 GMT+02:00

The clocks have sprung forward. So here are the essential words and topics to whip out and impress your Swedish friends and family in the season of new beginnings.

  1. Time, please, ladies and gentlemen 

Last week we had two sure signs of spring — the vernal equinox (vårdagjämning) and the arrival of summer time (sommartid) when we screwed the clocks forward an hour and raged against the machine for depriving us of a full night’s sleep. So make a note of these words as they’re cropping up everywhere — even in politics.

So elated was one member of parliament at the arrival of spring this year that he never wants to go back and is lobbying to make summertime permanent. “You cannot remove the winter, but you can make it brighter,” he said.

  1. In bloom 

From the ground they emerge to make our world a brighter place. We’re talking tussilago (which surely is one of Sweden’s loveliest words), vitsippa and krokus. Translation: coltsfoot, wood anemone and crocus.

Like everyone’s favorite denim jackets (jeansjackor), they were hidden away for the winter but now suddenly they’re everywhere. And look! Knoppar (buds) are on the trees too!

  1. Is it safe to come out yet? 

Bears know the score. While the human population gets all droopy for half the year in Sweden and enters a sort of semi-hibernation, our ursine friends take it all the way. They gå i ide (go into hibernation). But now they’re back, emerging from their dens and getting chased up trees by dogs.

Also, the flyttfåglar (migratory birds) are on their way back to these parts. Indeed, a sure sign of spring each year is the first sighting of a crane (trana) returning to Lake Hornborga in south-western Sweden.

If you’re lucky you might even see a skäggdopping (great crested grebe) or an ormvråk (buzzard).

  1. How does it make you feel?

Bye bye melancholy, hej då melatonin and good riddance (or tears, depending on your viewpoint) Melodifestivalen. There’s vår i luften (spring in the air) and we’re happy as a kalv på grönbete (calf in green pastures). At least, that is, until we catch the first whiff of gråbopollen (mugwort pollen) and we’re basically one big human sneeze until the hay fever (hösnuva) abates.

But while we may be runnier of nose, we are also prettier of face as the first fräknar (freckles) appear.

  1. The sun’s out, we’re all out

As soon as you can no longer see your own breath it’s time for the first grillfest (barbecue) of the year. Throw another korv (sausage) on the engångsgrill (disposable barbecue) mate, it’s going to be a scorcher.

And once the temperature nears the 10C mark everyone starts to brave the outdoor sections of cafes and restaurants (uteserveringar). From April 1st they proliferate and stay there until the end of October, by which time the bears have already decided they’re about ready for their ide again. Sov gott, björn/Björn (Sleep tight, bear/guy called Björn).



About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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