And the trees are beginning to have buds! I know, I know, you guys might all be getting sick of my mention of spring in every post I do now. But spring is apparently a slow, slow process here in Sweden. Right now in Ohio I'm sure all the blossoms have bloomed on the trees and little leaves might even be all on them. Here, the grass is finally starting to not look utterly dead, and the trees have the tiniest of buds on them. It's exciting. Not to mention the weather being anywhere from 10 - 17C this past week or two. That's low 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit for you folks across the pond. Yesterday J and I walked downtown to have some ice cream because it was just such a nice day outside. I didn't even have to wear my jacket.
This past weekend my friend M and I went to an SFI classmate's home out in the middle of nowhere to ride horses and just hang around. It was great to be able to spend time with someone outside of class where you only get to see one side of them. She showed us the farm/whatever you would call it that she lives on. They have horses, alpacas, chickens, a rooster, and even some peacocks. Not to mention she showed us a pond with a boatload of frogs in it!
One of the frogs was jumping about in the dusty road, and my friend M decided to screech and shove me aside like she was saving me from a cobra. Then I saw this cute frog trying to hop out of the dust.
I mentioned J and I walking yesterday, and I saw such a pretty lonely daffodil. I tried to get a nice shot, but apparently phone cameras still aren't very up to snuff.
Not much else is new in the world of Sweden. Spring really is the biggest happening. All the bikes are coming out (although they never all went away, crazy Swedes ride their bikes in the dead of winter). When I look out at the playground from my kitchen window, there are almost always children playing in it. I never knew how many kids we had in the neighborhood until now.
This coming weekend is Easter weekend. The Swedes get "Long Friday" off and "Second Day Easter", aka Easter Monday. They actually have names from Wednesday through Monday.
- Dymmelonsdag is the first day, the Wednesday before Easter. Dymmel doesn't have a direct translation, but it comes from dymblar, which are wooden sticks that were placed in church bells on this day starting quite some time ago. They replaced the metal at this time to create a quiet, discreet sound rather than the normal loud clanging.
- Skärtorsdag is the second day, the Thursday before Easter. This is known by some as Maundy Thursday.
- Långfredag, which is translated to Long Friday, instead of Good Friday.
- Påskafton, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, which roughly translates to Easter Eve.
- Påskdagen, Easter Sunday. It translates to Easter Day.
- Annandagpåsk, or Second Day Easter.
Here is a picture of typical Easter celebrations. I took this shot in the big town square downtown.
Not only do they have these in public spaces, but live branches with synthetic feathers glued to them are for sale in all the flower stores, and even normal stores. While grocery shopping yesterday I noticed many on display and for sale. It's a very colorful and fun way to celebrate spring/Easter.
The Swedes apparently throw tons of parties or get togethers over Easter weekend. And why not? It's the first weekend of the year where the weather is bound to be pretty good, and it's a four day weekend. Who wouldn't want to throw a good barbecue with friends in the warming weather? J and I are tentatively planning to throw one of our own, and hopefully we can book the apartment company's festlokal. A festlokal is kind of like what in America we would call a clubhouse. The apartment complex has a big area you can book for an evening to throw a party of any sort. Ours isn't in our building, but it is somewhere nearby in the neighborhood. Swedes tend to use them a lot more than Americans, I think. I've never heard of anyone actually ever using the clubhouse of their apartment complex for a party. But maybe that's just me.
I should probably study and work more in my SFI textbooks. I want to start picking up my pace a little bit, and it simply requires discipline at home. In class we rarely get time anymore to just work through our books. On Friday we didn't even have real class and went to the local stadsteater (city theater) and saw a local high school's music production. I thought it was rather good/entertaining for high school kids. What got me thinking was how talented they all seemed to be. In my high school there could be people who were pretty terrible at some instruments or in choir, but this whole show (90 kids) was great, talent-wise. I think it's because here in Sweden you begin to specialize in high school. When you attend gymnasiet (high school) you choose a track to take. For instance, J took the track that dealt specifically with science and math because he wanted to go into engineering when university time came around. It's an interesting way to approach education. On one hand, I think it's great that you can begin to hone your skills so early. And yet the other part of me thinks "I still don't know what I want to do with my life, how is a teenager going to know?" But apparently the system works. To get back to my original thought, all the kids were probably so great because they go to a specific musikgymnasiet, so they all focus on singing, playing an instrument and the like.
This Friday is Långfredag, so no class there either! Two short weeks in a row. One could perhaps say I'm finally getting spring fever. I really hope there isn't a surprise dump of snow in our near future, as I've heard threatened from J. He's told me it can even snow in May. I've got my fingers crossed!