Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas has been swept out the door at last: the smell of oranges, cloves, saffron buns and sage stuffing, of hyacinth, pine branches and cold winter air, the glitter of glass and metal-filagree ornaments, the guests and the wrapping paper and finally, the tree all rolled up in a sheet, just like the victim it is, hauled out and dumped into the little plaza outside the city library with a bunch of other trees in various states of needledom.

It was the most yulish of Christmases in years: house guests for weeks, lots of dinners, lots of snow. Just the way I like it. And then we jaunted off to Oslo for a long weekend, where it was just as cold and snowy, and we hiked up and down icy hills all through the town, then had a glorious five-hour dinner fixed by a Frenchman and we danced in the new year, sweating and laughing in our fine clothes, swigging champagne until it was too much for me, and I had to go to sleep at 4:30, or was it 5:00?

But taking a long promenade through Stockholm today, after we'd taken down the tree, in the 2:30 p.m. dusk, with all the lights glittering in the windows and people walking on the ice of Lake Mälaren off of Kungsholmen and parents pushing their children in sleds down snowy hills in parks and a lone ferry making its way through the ice out into Stockholm Harbor, I realized: I miss having real winters. It seems to never get very cold, and we're lucky to have a total of two weeks of snow from the end of November to the middle of April. Strange to think that we are so far north, and yet it's a far milder climate than in Chicago. The truth of it is, the snow and cold make me happy.

So, how long will it last?

We've had nearly a month of it already. More than our fair share, it seems.

I'm keeping my cold fingers crossed.

The Swedish word for the day is vintertid. It means wintertime.