When the sun struggles to stay above the horizon, and it’s dark when you rise, and dark when you walk to work, and it never really gets much lighter than dusk, it takes all my energy to not spend all my non-working hours at home, curled up with a book and a fire burning in the fireplace. But I force myself to take a walk each lunchtime: through the downtown park Kungsträdgården, then up Skeppsholmen past Grand Hotel and the National Museum on one side, the ferries out to the archipelago on the other. At noon, a light shines in every window, and the hotel is garlanded in green, and strings of lights hang on the ferries.
As I rounded the boat slips at the back of Moderna Museet, and made my way up toward the tiny island of Kastellholmen, I looked across the water at Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s venerable little amusement park. Long closed for the winter, I was surprised to see a single car on the roller coaster, whizzing around, and then stopping as if to tie its shoe. It looked so lonely up there, under all those banks of clouds pressing down on the city.
I continued on my way, and then when I was on the hill of Kastellholmen, looking again at the roller coaster, I saw the car had been joined by a second one. They looked as if they were playing together. Somehow, it was suddenly comforting instead of dismaying, watching the empty cars in the empty park, in the grey of deep midwinter.
And then I went on my way.
The Swedish word for the day is tröst. It means solace.
- by Francis S.