Det finns ingen vinter här = There is no winter here (thoughts on snow, ice, roller skis and joy)
I don't want to write this post. But at this point, I'm resigned to the fact that we won't get a true winter in southern Sweden. The Swedes also seem to be resigned to this, as do the flowers. A bit hard to see but the crocus and other spring bulbs are already starting to push through the dirt in the picture to the left.
I love winter. I love snow. One of the reasons we moved to Sweden for the year was to really get to experience winter- to be able to put on cross country skis and go ski out our door. We keep laughing at ourselves, as it turns out Stockholm doesn't actually get that much snow in the winter. A bit of geography research and we could have figured that out.
As November grayed into December, we enjoyed the holiday lights and were assured that come the new year, the temperatures would plummet. We'd get plenty of ice and even maybe some snow. In August, Chris and Stephen were running around a nearby lake: people were training on how to self-rescue from ice by hurling themselves off a plywood float fully clothed, then using ice picks to haul themselves out. At our nearby ice skating rink (another post on that as it's worthy of its own), classes have assembled to practice skating and self rescues across the flat of the rink.
In the fall, we watched videos of skating on "thin ice" - it is beautiful and ethereal sounding. While gorgeous looking, I had no desire to do this- I fell through the ice on a golf course pond growing up. To this day, ice underfoot cracks and I jump. I like my ice thick.
Just wait, people said. Perhaps it will freeze enough to skate from Stockholm to Uppsala (more than 50 km). Cool, we thought... we want to do that.
We have a new appreciation for what it means to be 3 degrees Celsius warmer: it doesn't freeze. Temps have been ranging from about 3-9 degrees Celsius most days. Pleasant for biking, not so good for skating on the ponds and lakes.
I gave a talk about climate change to Elizabeth's 4th grade class just before the holidays and started looking into climate change impacts in Sweden: warmer temps = less ice. Good news is that the coal burning power plant visible from our neighborhood is being shut down 5 years early, in May 2020. Sweden is fairly far ahead on addressing climate change issues, in part due to the oil crisis in the 1970s and the very expensive costs of importing oil then. Better news- if you feel down about climate change, go talk to a class of 4th graders. they know their science and were positively bubbling with ideas on what to do.
Stephen has been indoctrinated into the world of pavement for skiing... something I did a lot of in college and just after. I swore once I'd never roller ski again. Hit a rock, you hit the pavement. I have a scar on my shoulder from hitting the ground. However, here we are.
The folks who sold us the roller skis were quite dubious when we told them we were going to roller ski home. They checked to make sure we had helmets. Yep. When I went back a week later to get something at the same store, they had been worried that we wouldn't make it. Slow we were, but we had survived. On our trip home, one Swede suggested we'd better turn left and head north.