Darkness

Moose tromping through the park in the middle of a gloomy November day

We are half way through November, and it is already distractingly dark. The sun is setting around 3:30 PM, which means that the last few hours of the workday take place in darkness. Then a walk or yoga, then dinner… and then I usually feel pretty sleepy since by then it’s been dark for HOURS. The weather has been temperate and sometimes even balmy – we’ve only had one day of frost and many days get close to 10 degrees. The variation between fog and cloud and mist is familiar (and I think it’s nice)… but it just makes for very few hours with actual sun.

We’ve made a few adjustments for this. My work is pretty flexible, so I often take a walk or run in the middle of the day to get some daylight. Graham and I take Vitamin D supplements, which did in Canada for general health but these days are a little more consistent about since it may be a protective factor for COVID. I bought some reflectors for running and walking, not so much for cars but for bikes which are plentiful on the shared pathways through the parks and forest.

A distanced-but-not-zero-risk trip for delightful fika at Art Bakery, part of the Nordiska Kompaniet Department Store. NK is like the Holt Renfrew of Sweden, but I think Holt is actually the Nordiska Kompaniet of Canada.

Naturally, I have an IKEA pack of tealights and have acquired some charming candle holders, so we can embrace the darkness with an enhanced sense of Nordic coziness. With higher case counts and new distancing guidelines/restrictions in Sweden we are mostly staying home now, but we’ve had some great at-home fika and meals (and a couple of nice cafe fikas too!).

Walnut, apricot, raisin bread with legit French brie plus stewed apples

It is weird to think that there is 6 more weeks of it getting dark before the solstice turns things around. That means it will be 12 weeks before it is a light as it is now! Christmas decorations are starting to go up around town, and the last Sunday in November will bring advent or ‘julinvigning’ (the inauguration of Christmas). This provides for a perfectly acceptable delimitation of the Christmas season, allowing for four advent weeks of decorations, julmusik (christmas music), pepparkakor, and Christmas stars/candle lamps in the windows. The festive spirit does tend to brighten things up, and gives a sense of anticipation as we tick past the darkest days.

Graham wearing woolies and holding his new carbon skis and poles! Now he just needs snow.

The local approach to this is to wish for snow, which reflects light and facilitates outdoor activities like snowshoeing and skiing. Our Canadian skis found some good homes (shout out D & N, enjoy that snow!)… so we were ski-less for a few months until Graham found a great discount ski website. Sweden is expensive overall, but skis are something that felt like a deal – we both got really nice ones for very reasonable prices.

Stockholm City is preparing the outdoor skating rink, which will probably still be allowed during corona.

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