Snow covers the pine and birch trees and blows by the fast train as I sit comfortably watching the 2:39 pm sunset in the Swedish winter. I have always loved trains, and this one, with comfortable spacious seats, clean bathrooms, free internet, and the Tyst Avdelning (quiet section), makes traveling more fun than going to see a movie. I am listening to northern music written by Kaija Saariaho while watching the northern people head north. Soon the light will be gone. I have never seen the northern lights. This is the northern darks.
2017 has begun, and the consumer frenzy of post-holiday shopping has lost its appeal. The Christmas trees are down, and thrown on the corners of the Stockholm streets. Although this is not condoned, everyone does it, and somehow the de-sparkled pines eventually vanish, taken care of by the highly organized Swedish society. The snow and wind has made walking a slippery challenge. The magpies fly around looking for food, and ate the apple eyeballs of our snowman.
How do you describe someone who is from Stockholm? Who is the typical Stockholmare? This is a question I posed to my friends while sitting around a table with vegan pasta and glögg. According to our conclusions, a Stockholmare has a very strong sense of trends. They are politically correct, and believe they are individualistic, but actually conform to the styles of the day almost instinctively. My friend said that while he was gone for a few years, each time he came back, he saw that another clothes trend had emerged. One year it was rolled up jeans, and then another year, tiny backpacks. Stockholmare are the ones who are likely to be vegetarian, gay friendly, and travel a lot. They have nice kitchens. According to these criteria I am a Stockholmare. Here is a silly website with 22 signs that you are a true Stockholmare. A lot of it has to do with traveling by subway, and the high price of living here. This is my home, but I did notice that my life is pretty unusual: my podiatrist is in Stockholm, my dentist is in San Francisco, and my optometrist is in Delhi.
-26° C outside makes it hard to breathe in Sundsvall. My beard hairs frost over. All the stores are closed for Trettondagen (Epiphany), and it is clear that most people are staying at home. It is the last holiday weekend and the beginning of the long winter.