27 August 2008

Weather Report III

LUND--It is 0230. The sky is the color of new jeans in the dark. Clouds are moving fast across it, looking like bleach stains that reveal star points in the night. In a month and a half I will have been here a year. The last days it has rained and rained with only brief moments of clear. I cannot remember a rainy day such as the day of Lena and her friend's birthday party. It began before dawn, steady and hard and continued that way through the afternoon and night without pause until early the next morning. And we were awake then.

I was surprised by the Swedish summer. It is almost pornographic. I mean that, not that men and beasts are copulating for cameras in the streets but in that it is too good, too perfect, too staged and unreal. The summer time has always been problematic for me, at least since coming into adulthood. I always forget there is no summer break, that one still has to work. In the depths of winter I imagine an endless period of canoes and sun, lemonade and beer, smoking grills covered in meat and surrounded by friends -- mornings and evenings that are simultaneously early and late. But of course one still has to work and summer is pretty much humid, sticky, and filled with bugs that don't stop work either.

But in Sweden, the Nordic wonderland, summer is hot and sunny but dry. People are beautiful, half-clad and tanned. The days last until near midnight while men and women and blonde-headed bairns frolic at the beaches of sea and lake and river. There are apple trees everywhere and berries and streams full of fish. Fruit grows fat and red and the kids grow blonder and browner whilst they fish for crabs and engage in healthful outdoor activities. Around the longest day of summer the Swedes gather and dance around a big long pole decorated with the likeness of testicles. They hop around like frogs and sing folk tunes. Then the days begin to get shorter. Near the end of summer the adults gather and eat loads of crayfish boiled in dill with fresh bread and cheese and drink too much schnapps and sing rousing songs about eating crayfish and drinking schnapps and then summer ends.

There are a couple weeks where every day is a rather dramatic battle between the sun and the shades. The summer does not want to die. The clouds roll in and there are tremendous winds and towering black clouds but they never seem to accomplish much. The summer is very strong and will not let them. Not that day. You look out and it is dark and you put on your oil-coat and hat and by the time you walk downstairs it is hot and bright. And you walk to the station and catch a 15 minute train and when you get there it is chill and grey which changes in turn to a bright and clear night.

But I think that today, or maybe it was Saturday, summer died. I felt the change. The season had ended though Fall I have yet to smell. The leaves are still green. None have changed and I wonder what, here, the first scent of Autumn is like.


Blogger Lena said...

You know, you have to tell me when you smell it here - the first fall. Because I've never smelled anywhere else.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Fredrik said...

Hm, when closing my eyes I recall a smell like the air is packed with even more oxygen than usual. You’ll get almost high on it. And underneath it you have a touch of wet leaves, but not the almost rotten ones, instead wet leaves that trickle with the last squeezed out drops from life itself.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Or, perhaps you'll have to tell me since I don't know what I'm sniffing for! But wait, I'll keep my nose on it. Perhaps if I was more attuned to the seasons here I might have caught a whiff of it. But I always know that feeling, that moment when one morning I walk out and the scent of Fall is there and you know it even if the next day it is gone and the weather back to summer.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous lena said...

Fredrik the poet in action.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous lena said...

Regression this weekend. It's fucking frying-hot summer out there.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Jesse R Ewing said...

I think I might have mentioned my thoughts on the seasons one time to you. I've always felt that we have many more than four seasons, and I think, at least in Ohio, and it sounds like in your part of Sweden, there is a quite distinct short season in between summer and fall. I called it Deep Summer in one of my paintings, but I'm not sure that's the best name for it. It's that time when you can sense that summer has pretty much wound down, there's a feeling of settling to everything. The leaves haven't yet changed, or have just begun to. The air as Fredrik said is fuller in a way, intoxicating with a lushness, but not that damp nostalgic intoxication of autumn. I get a feeling of anxiety at this time of year. It's like being in a waiting room.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

And Jesse sums it up, defines it. When I was in Honduras I came back and said the seasons there change every two weeks but it is similar here. We break them into four but there are many more. The year goes by very fast and has many parts. Today was summer-like. It had the heat and the sun, measurable in similar quantities to the middle of summer, but with a hesitation, a hidden element of cool hiding in the corners. This should be expolred.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

Today we started off chilly but sunny, went through the high summer heat and ended in cold, grey, rainy fall.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous talytr said...

Jesse calls it deep, I've called it high, and I'm convinced there are twelve seasons, each with their own language.

Deep summer was the plant language I learned first, and every time I meet a plant in a different season I think 'ah, hello, and you are the one they call 'vibrant-purple-flowered ironweed' in deep summer.'

This was a beautiful post.

6:58 AM  

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