Summer has come, all in a rush: It never quite gets dark out, and as I wander through the apartment turning out lights before we go to sleep, the deep dusk outside means that it never gets quite dark in the apartment either. Dusk has always been my favorite time of day, and the long drawn-out dusk of Swedish summer is a bit romantic, a bit fantastical.
The other sign of the rush of summer is the panic of getting the balconies ready for the short season when you want to sit on the front balcony in the full sun to watch the world go by with a drink in hand, or on the shady back balcony for a bit of quiet breakfast or dinner with something juicy to read.
The priest and the policeman and our goddaughter Signe helped us get plants: ivy and tiny yellow petunias and some kind of purple sedge-like plant, clematis, and hostas for the back balcony; for the front balcony it was lavender and what could be a big mistake, polygonum baldschuanicum, which supposedly grows like mad (although I guess it can only grow so much in a pot). Then everyone, even Signe, helped plant everything, emptying the pots of the current dead plants and filling them up with fresh dirt that stank pleasantly of cowshit, and with new plants.
After we'd cleaned it all up, and Signe was finished coloring with crayons and we'd sipped the dregs of the coffee, and they were on their way out the door, the priest said as she looked at the three garbage bags full of old dirt and sticks and dry leaves and plastic pots and spindly wooden stakes, and then out towards the front balcony: "It's so strange about plants, isn't it? They're living things, you have living things sitting on your balcony right now."
Strange is right. Very Day of the Triffids.
I wonder what the plants are thinking now. Do they mind sitting on the windy balcony, listening to the busses going by, waiting to seduce a passing bee, hoping for rain, looking at the church at the end of Odenplan, or the library at Sveavägen, wondering if they'll make it through the summer with our horrible track record of watering?
The Swedish word for the day is törstig. It means thirsty.
- by Francis S.