Thursday, June 03, 2010

Spring has been so late in arriving after the long hard winter. Not that I'm complaining really, I'm all for a long hard winter. It's how I grew up. But still, it felt a mite miraculous to drive out of the city, into rolling hills and past a long thin lake, and further, to the pop star's country house.

Oh, the green - when the tree doctor came to look at the trees, he told us that the grass had grown six inches in a week - and the lilacs, as late as I've ever seen them, lining the country lane and making me think of my mother, who come spring always had a vase of lilacs on the kitchen table in an old jade-colored ceramic pitcher from the thirties.

So the pop star drove her rider mower madly about the lawn, like a cowboy, like some vision out of the American suburbs I grew up in - the grass was more than a foot high. While I made rhubarb cream - which is just stewed rhubarb with a bit of sugar and a pinch of potato starch to thicken it - one of those beloved Swedish treats that you serve warm with milk poured over it, a reminder of how poor the country was until relatively recent (and how hard it is to grow anything up here in the far north - you get far enough north and there are no fruit trees, so strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb are about all you've got to work with.)

Then we walked down the road, past the peculiar Scottish cows with their wooly hides and broad faces and curly horns, and turned down a path.

"This is what I wanted to show you," said the pop star. "This tree is a thousand years old, the oldest one around. Can you believe it? It's beautiful!"

Apparently everyone around knew about the thousand-year-old oak. (Just think, it was around when the Vikings were still rampaging, and Sweden was still a century away from official christianization.) A fairly large branch - as big as a tree itself - had fallen not so long ago, but otherwise it looked fairly healthy. The four of us - me, the husband, the pop star and the girl from L.A. - tried to reach around the tree, holding hands, but it was too big.

"Look up," said the girl from L.A., gazing into the branches above us. "it is beautiful, really, really."

The Swedish word for the day is ek. It means oak.


Rick Dearman said...

Didn't know if this would be useful for you, since you seem well advanced in the language. But perhaps interesting for your readers? I have posted a list of Games people can play to help learn another language on my publishers website. You can download the PDF from

It is free and shows how you can have some fun learning a language.

Erica said...

lovely blog. keep hugging those trees!

Ramzi said...

Learning Swedish? You are cutting deep now. I am here since almost a year and barely learned a word.

Aside of that, really beautiful country and nice people.


what now? said...

When I was in Lulea we ate things like gooseberry soup and cloudberry jam on toast.

Erika C. said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and for the suggested changes which I made. So sorry. I wasn't reading closely enough. And yes, the name, I hadn't looked it up. Oops!

I look forward to reading more about your blog.


Batus said...

I believe healthy oaks drop old branches from time to time.

Great blog!

Pervaiz said...

I visit your blog first time. It is so nice and lovely. I like your idea of blog.

Jeff said...

That's a BIG tree!

The pop star was on Letterman last night! She's terrific!

Steph said...

What a lovely post. I only just read it today, after putting it off, with a number of others that I "would get around to later"... I am glad I read it finally.

The only thing that would have made this post better would be PICTURES! I would love to see the lilacs and the crazed pop star mowing and the ancient Viking Oak!

I have been thinking a lot about Scandinavia lately (though honestly have been fixated more on Copenhagen than Stockholm), so it is nice to come back to your blog again...

Robin Shadowes said...

No matter how short the word is, it must be a real pain in the you-know-what to pronounce for those of you who have english as your first language. I wonder how many times it has tied your tongues into a knot? :P

melekler korusun 73. bölüm said...

thank you

Tom said...

Looking forward to seeing the Popstar in DC this week!

I have to say, your rare updates are killing me. ;)

Love your blog - have been reading for years.

vi ses

Tom said...

will be seeing the pop star this week in DC. Can't wait!

Your lack of blogging is killing me. ;)

vi ses!

Tom said...

will be seeing the pop star this week in DC. Can't wait.

Love your blog, reading for years... but your lack of posts is killing me.;)

vi ses

Oliver the Swede said...

Really like this site! If you want to learn more Swedish words, check this one out: