February 10th, 2007

walking

THE TEMPO OF TWO LEGS

3 days in a row the sun has been shining and I've gone for a walk despite the below freezing temperatures. When I drove down old Odarslövsvägen yesterday, the sky opened out in front of me in a giant pink and pale purple bowl. I thought I'd never seen anything prettier. Little puffy clouds were dotted here and there like a flock of sky sheep and the sun was dropping slowly behind me pitching out every vibrant pastel in its palette for my delight.

Most of the fields are still green, having never really had a chance to freeze completely, and some have even been turned already for the first spring planting. There's no snow on the hill up to Lund, but it's still on the ground in the village. I pass the 3 gigantic windmills on the left, parallel to the highway. They're hypnotizing from a distance, those whirling spiky-blossomed pinwheels. Far away on the horizon I can see rows of them, some white and bright in the sunshine, and some grey under a passing cloud. From the top of the hill I once counted 22 of them. There are more now.

Thursday I walked alone and met the kids as they were finishing handball practice; we walked the rest of the way home together. Yesterday, I left work at what felt like an early hour because I've been working later hours for so long but was actually right at the 8-hour mark. Anders had picked up the kids and arrived home right after I did. I bribed persuaded the children to go walk with me on the promise of stopping to buy candy for myskväll. We stopped at the old bank which is now a new café. They have new owners after the guy who ran the place for the first year went back to his regular job. I rarely see anyone in there, and often wonder how they stay in business. They have quite an expanded menu now with all kinds of sandwiches on bagels and ciabatta, soups, smörgåstårtas and pastries. The candy containers fill 3 walls inside the old bank vault. I spent 15 minutes in the candy vault holding hats and gloves and a paper bag while the kids carefully counted and scooped in their allotted 10 pieces each.

When I started cutting back on the amount of candy they were allowed for the weekend, they thought they could be sly and choose the kinds that were biggest but I stop them each time and tell them "that counts for 2" (or 3 or whatever). Then we shovel in 10 pieces of nasty black salt licorice for Anders and put the hats and gloves back on. 30 pieces of candy is 15 kronor. That's about 2 dollars and 15 cents. It sounds expensive to me, but I have nothing to measure it by anymore. Outside it seems colder because we've been out of the wind so long. Even with scarves and collars up about our faces, our chins are chilled and numb when we get home. My glasses fog up immediately every time I step inside after a walk.

Today, I was ready to go for a walk in the early afternoon. Martin and the twins were lounging all over the living room watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but they all jumped up gladly when I asked if they wanted to go with me. We set off briskly into the bright sunshine, but after only a few moments, they were lagging behind, playing and goofing around and scooping up snow to hurl at each other. They tried to sneak up on me to pelt me in the back as well, but I whirled around and scared them when they got close enough. They kept dropping further and further behind as I strode ahead. We passed lots of people out walking: couples in down jackets and hiking boots, people walking dogs, an older pair with their Nordic walking sticks. At the main road on the skinny sidewalk by the whitewashed wall of the bakery, a man sat on the chilly pavement in the sunshine, hugging and petting a huge tongue-lollingly-content shepherd-mix dog. I smiled at him as we passed and said, "Solmys?" He nodded and grinned back, "Visst är det härligt med solsken!"*

The kids caught up with me for awhile, but soon dropped behind again since I didn't slacken my pace. By the time I rounded the corner by the barky dog's house they were no longer in sight behind me, though I could still hear them, their voices high and laughing on the cold air.

Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: Head cheese horrors

*There's no really good way to translate solmys. Sol is sun and mys is cuddle or cozy. In this context, I suppose I would translate it as "sundelight". His reply: "Definitely, it's wonderful with sunshine!"