Talking about the winter weather, gradually heading into spring.
Letter from Sweden by Gary (not Alistair) Cook
18 March 2021
The other day I was discussing the weather, as you do, with a few other Talking Newspaper people. They were proudly declaring that it was bright sunshine in Farnham following a rather wet and miserable morning. I didn’t bother telling them that the weather had been glorious all day, slightly south of Stockholm. And, actually, we’d had quite a few days of sunshine and blue sky.
This is in sharp contrast to when we first arrived, back in October. In fact, in early December the Swedish weather people were saying we had experienced only one hour of sunshine in the previous month. One hour in 30 days!
And it is true. One gloomy day after another. It was very much like February in the UK only thicker. Like a solid grey soup, hanging permanently above the ground. That all changed with the first snowfall, of course. There’s something magical about a land covered in white, even when the sky above is solid grey.
Even more magical is a snow covered Christmas Day. This was one reason we wanted to come to Sweden. To have a white Christmas. And we were more than happy. Walking out on Christmas Day, the snow scrunching under our boots. It was delightful.
Moving into January, the weather suddenly became very cold. Adding the wind chill, the temperature dropped down to -20 on one memorable day. Not that that bothered us. It’s all about the correct quantity of clothes. Thin layer upon thin layer.
In fact, there’s so many layers that my wife calls the preparation, prior to leaving the house, as The Palaver.
And then we had a second, glorious snow fall which lasted for ages.
Now, how many times, in the UK, have we heard how people can’t handle a bit of snowfall? Obviously, when it’s not something that happens regularly, it can be difficult to cope with but, here, in Sweden, a small army of heavy machinery leaps into action.
Main roads are cleared with big double fronted graders – they can spread out to the width of two lanes. Footpaths are cleared with, what appears to be, ride on mowers. Except, instead of grass cutting blades, they are equipped with a roller, which has the sort of stiff brushes they use in garage car washes. Steam is pushed through the bristles which leaves the path completely clear and safe to walk on.
For minor roads, they have various different sized vehicles with cow catcher type fronts temporarily attached. I even saw a quad bike fitted out to help people clear their driveways. Presumably at a price.
As well as clearing the snow, the machines also drip grit along behind them ensuring that nothing is slippery and life can continue like normal.
It’s all beautifully efficient.
Now, of course, it’s the beginning of Spring. Any sign of snow has long gone. Well, except for a sudden, unexpected blizzard which struck last week. Not that it lasted very long.
Blizzards aside, the trees are starting to regrow leaves, birds are more plentiful – woodpeckers playing chase in the back garden - and we await the appearance of the first signs of flowers. And, in fact, my wife saw her first anemones only this morning.
And, of course, there’s the seemingly endless blue sky. As we’ve been told, the blue on the Swedish flag represents the beautiful sky while the yellow is the sun. And when the sun is out, it’s time to start sitting outside on our small terrace. Following the Palaver, of course. And not for too long, given the temperature is still low. As I sit and type this, it is 1°.
Still, things are definitely warming up.
Till next time. Hej dor!
PS: Shortly after finishing this letter, we had a snow storm and everything was quickly white again. So it goes.