Wednesday 21 July 2010
Two days ago, I rose late from a good night's sleep. The weather had cooled off the day before for the first time after a long lasting heat wave and this did me a lot of good during the night. The morning was clear and agreeable and I munshed my breakfast on the balcony. As I was sipping my coffee, I could not help noticing that a long string of boats was huffing and puffing seawards. So I rushed to get my camera to document this nice event for your benefit.
The boats trafficking below my windows usually come in batches like this. Just 500 meters to the left of my apartment, Lake Mälar (Mälaren) empties itself into the Baltic. At this precise spot there is a pound lock located under the three Skanstull bridges, which opens only once an hour or so, forcing the boats into an orderly queue when sailing towards the sea. One has to admire these hardy sailors who have to spend many hours of drudging through the inner archipelago of Stockholm before seeing, at long last, some open bays and beautiful skerries further out in the Baltic. But this does not detain robust Swedes who entertain a life long love affair with the sea and spend their free time, either, on a boat among the skerries or, more sedately, in a summer house out there somewhere.
Monday 12 July 2010
This is a year of climate excesses, at least in Sweden. You may recall last winter, so harsh and snowy that Stockholm was shrouded in white from December to March ("Midwinter-night cold is harsh"). We now are approaching the opposite end of the scale, with summer heat reaching record values of 35 degrees and above, unheard of since at least 15 years back.
Yesterday I returned by train from Scania in Southern Sweden, where I visited some friends at their summer cottage. The trip normally takes about 6 hours (Sweden is a big country). But due to the heat, fires on the track and loss of power on the rails, the train was just standing at a station for four hours, awaiting the signal to proceed. Fortunately there was air conditioning on board. Eventually we got moving again and I arrived back home in Hammarby Sjöstad around midnight. The trip took as long as my trip home from Chicago a month ago!
After a couple hours of uneasy sleep the sun found its way through the curtains and touched my cheeks, reminding me that another long sunny day was in the making. When I went out to the balcony, at 4.30 in the morning, Hammarby Sound (Hammarby Sjö) lay completely quiet in the golden glow of early sunshine. The water was subdued and acted as a mirror for the yellow gleam of heaven. The heat was still bearable, but already above 20 degrees and rising. Another glaring day in the making, a treat for the sun-loving Swedes!