Archive for August, 2008

endearing initiative

August 19, 2008

I wasn’t even planning to write again about Swedish vegetable freshness, but this is just too sweet.

I trust that my writings have made the big supermarket in the next village, the Bolle, world famous. It is actually a good shop, reasonably spacious, well-equipped and with a cheerful leadership that attracts cheerful employees. They also have a healthy approach to keeping the shop – as a whole – fresh and attractive.

The latest initiative was to spruce up the steamy vegetable vault with large color posters showing super-size photographs of veggies of various kinds. These are lined up along the ceiling above the goods themselves in an attractive recurring pattern. They must be intended to form an appetizing barrier when we, in despair, lift our gaze once again to the skies because we stumbled upon a bunch of bashed-up tomatoes, a mound of Jivaro cabbages, chestnut-brown celery stalks or some green moldy organic lemons. (more…)


finally fika

August 12, 2008

Every day, our newspaper features a personal portrait of some local person of interest. I once got a page for myself after I found a piano at the recycling station. Most of the time we will read about someone who paints, loves music and/or is active in the church.

A few weeks ago, a young lady was interviewed. She listed “fika” as her hobby. To the uninitiated, this sounds as if someone has made “waking up” their hobby, or perhaps “using a remote control.”

So what is Swedish fika? You can read this article for an independent version. It transpires that fika is not, as I believed, coffee with or without a bun. It is planning to have, and finally having coffee and/or the bun alone or with friends/unfriends – an institution in other words. One example: (more…)

crayfish season

August 9, 2008

Every time the eyes see something unexpected, I mean really out of context, the human mind does curious things until it catches up. Years ago, a bobbing tiny dot very far away on a narrow and ruler-straight Dutch forest path gave me a magnificent jolt of prehistoric panic until I, milliseconds later, put dot and logic together and thought “person on a horse, advancing.” A motorway collision between two black Volvo station wagons of the 900 series left one of them neatly balancing on its side. It took me minutes after passing the site to figure out what I actually had seen there: no mystic over-sized black box but just one of Sweden’s most common cars on its side.

We have a little old door in our garden that leads to a small, damp and dark room which houses the pump of our freshwater supply. I have to go there occasionally because the garden hose has its faucet right there – watering the flowers involves an act of creep and crawl: the door is a step down and indeed very tiny. The pump room is occupied by a colony of shiny, dark brown spiders of a kind hitherto unknown to me, of which I actually have the suspicion that they don’t really belong in Sweden. (more…)