“Welcome to Sweden!”
After getting our place finally set up with a studio for me and a piano for Mariette, the next order of business was to prepare for the housewarming party for her large family of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, children and close family friends.
The weatherman said there was a chance of rain . . . or maybe not. So, we rented chairs and tables and our landlord graciously lended us some tents. We spent Friday setting things up, picking flowers and blackberries and buying the last of the food to feed the 40 or so guests.
It was another gorgeous day on Friday and we happily proceeded with our business.
This morning I got up and took the dog for a walk. The sun was bright red. The thought, “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning,” passed through my head briefly but I soon became distracted by a rumbling I have never heard before. Like a big diesel motor off in the distance. Oh, well, does not sound like thunder, so no big whip. I went back home to do our final set ups for the big day.
A half hour later the sky suddenly became very, very dark. Soon, Odin, Thor, the Ice Giants, elves, Loki and everyone else in the Norse pantheon were pouring out their greetings and showering us (literally) with their hellos.
Oy, yoy, yoy, as they say in Sweden. But, no matter–in 20 minutes the thunder, lightning and downpour faded. I plugged back in the TV, wireless modem and computer and we carried on with our preparations. The sun even came out. (“If you don’t like the weather, just wait a bit,” began to sing in my head.)
Punctuality is a Swedish characteristic. If you say the party starts and noon, everyone arrives at noon.
Also returning, as you can see, were Thor and his cohorts. The party started in a torrential downpour. The timing was unbelievable. The only thing more unbelievable to me, a transplanted American, was how little anyone but me noticed the weather. This was a clan gathering and instantly the house was flooded to overflowing with cheerful greetings and the chatter of kids from, literally, 1 to 85.
Had Mariette not starting moving people out to the porch for the food there is no telling how long the conversations would have gone on. As it was, the ensuing feeding frenzy barely interrupted the talk.
After some time the rain began to let up and the kids began to burn off their lunch.
With it obvious that the weather was taking a turn for the better, Mariette marched most everyone off to show them Prins Bertils Stig, the little fish market and our swimming spot at the beach. I stayed behind to be with some who wanted to visit.
No sooner had they left than the gods blessed us with another torrential downpour complete with sound and lighting effects. Sometime later, guests returned in groups of 5 or 6 and again, no one mentioned the weather. Swedes remove their shoes upon entering a house and our entrance was filled for several feet with shoes sandals and boots. I should have thought to take a photo.
As soon as the downpour mostly stopped, people were outside again playing.
And so it went throughout the afternoon. I’ve known for years that Mariette’s extended family is the sweetest bunch imaginable but our earlier gatherings have always been during beautiful Swedish summer weather. Now it is late August and today I got a taste of what is in store for Autumn. I also got a strong reality on how lucky I am to be part of such a wonderful bunch of people. With thunder, lightning, cats and dogs raining down for a good part of the afternoon, they took no apparent notice and reveled instead in Mariette’s smorgasbord, Olle’s piano concert and each other’s company.
The walls of our little house are still reverberating with their cheerfulness. Welcome to Sweden, indeed!
There is a lesson in here somewhere. Thank you, Odin.