Today was the high point of the year in Sweden. Where we are we had 17 hours and 47 minutes of daylight today (to be balanced out with roughly 6 hours and 13 minutes in December), the longest day of the year and the celebration of Swedish Midsummer. If you want to see a people where misery, sorrow and evil take a holiday the place to be is a sunny Midsummer in Sweden. Last year on Midsummer is rained and the forecast today was for a torrential downpour starting at 2:00 p.m., just a half hour before the festivities were to begin. But as the morning wore on, it looked as though we were going to get a reprieve, so things were looking good.
To start with, we had a wonderful visit from a cousin of Mariette’s yesterday who stopped by on her way to be with her family. Helena is 8 months pregnant and we had a super time catching up since we last met, eating a tremendous smoked salmon dinner, looking at her wedding photos and just chilling. Naturally, like a dummy, I forgot to take some photos. Helena is the archetypal Swedish woman: beautiful, athletic, sweet, one helluva cook and adventurous. Just a few months ago, she spent a month building a house in Mexico to learn how to do it. Anyway, she is one of our absolute favorites and it was wonderful to see her again.
So, with the weather looking like it was going to hold, off we went to a nearby farm to celebrate Midsummer. I’ll let the photos do the rest.
If you get the idea that it was a happy, carefree afternoon, you are right. Similar celebrations were occurring in other parts of town, throughout the region and across the entire country. Midsummer, though it officially signals the beginning of summer in the U.S. is actually considered the middle of summer here, hence the name. Summer starts here on the first of May and after a long cold winter the weather has mostly been spectacular for the past 6 weeks.
We then went to Mariette’s parents’ place with a good friend. As I said at the top, all hell was supposed to break loose earlier in the afternoon but it must have been the collective will to have a sunny raising of the Midsummer pole and the rain held off until around 5:00 and then it really came down.
It really came down for about 10 minutes, but by 5:00 most people were probably home and dry, and enjoying one of the favorite Midsummer meals, a West Coast salad with tuna, shrimp, macaroni and eggs in a bed of lettuce. Really good. After a walk to give the dogs some air we had coffee and desert and then sat around shooting the breeze and looking at some old drawings of Mariette’s Dad’s.
It would have been hard to script a better day than today. We’ll try again tomorrow. The weather forecast is sunny. People will be taking it easy after consuming the 300,000 liters of hard alcohol and 7 million beers that were sold leading up to today. In another week or so, many people will be taking their month of paid vacation and July should be a real good month here. To top everything off, Mariette got her vacation bonus today. She gets 32 paid vacation days each year, 22 of which are eaten up in July so she will get another full paycheck in July and then can take 10 more vacation days sometime later in the year.
Yeah, today was a good day to be in Sweden. I wish a lot of people could experience a Midsummer here. Sweden may have its problems but today was not one of them.
Finally, a few new paintings I have been working on: