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WHAT A BRIGHT TIME, IT'S THE RIGHT TIME
Much as I love my little village, I suspect I'm a city girl at heart. I still miss Chicago with an ache every time I really think about it. It's not very often that I get into town these days, and even less often when I get in with a decent amount of time to just walk around taking in the sights, taking in the pulse, and shopping. I had an agenda of sorts today, but I had plenty of time to deal with it, and walked around the center of Malmö people-watching and absorbing the city atmosphere, in a sort of circuitous route that took me from one store to another until I had hit every place that was on my mental list. Stocking stuffers for the children, for Anders; a final present for Anders' niece and, oops, a book for me! How did that get in the basket? A dozen bagels at the old market hall, and sushi for lunch. One present left on my list, plus a stocking stuffer I couldn't get because the store I needed was closed.

Across the cobblestoned square, teenagers were stumble-skating around the little ice rink, their skate blades inch deep in snowy ice curds. Pop music filled the air overhead, a dozen small children wearing identical yellow reflector vests were standing to one side chattering madly while waiting their turn. Pine garlands and wreaths swathe storefronts, and julbock Christmas goats, festive with red ribbons, stand guard outside doorways. The solemn statue of the woman with the bowed head at tiny Wallenburg park stands peacefully with snow in her hair. A new graffiti-art mural graces the parking garage wall; the management's motto obviously being "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em": it looks commissioned.

I'm gratified by the size of the crowds in the bookstores. On the hunt for a specific wished-for title, I weave in and out of 4 different stores with no luck. Stopping to browse the card sections, the books are all so shiny and colorful. Can you hear them calling? "Read me! Read me!" they say. A red-headed lady behind the information desk at the last store informs me that no one has that particular book, and it can't be ordered in time for Christmas; I'm reduced to a gift certificate. Which, secretly, is what I would prefer, that is, if it were me I was buying for. All up and down the walking street, the cobblestones glisten with snow run-off. There are dark red market booths lining both sides of the way, filled with handicrafts, jewelry and artwork. One tempts me with bright child-sized hand-embroidered ponchos and sweaters from Peru, until reality hits me again: my daughter would never wear this stuff. *sigh* I turn reluctantly away. Further down, the booths change from gift items to food: glögg and glühwein, roasted sugared almonds, cakey donuts.

It's funny...the day was overcast, grey and spitting a bit of rain. After the 2 bright sunny days of this weekend, you would think it would be depressing by comparison, but not so. Maybe it was just my mood, which lightened everything around me. Maybe it was the smiles on the faces of the skaters and the glad greetings of the proprietors at the sushi deli, calling to me in broken Swedish: "long time! long time." Even the shoppers didn't seem that stressed; they seemed intent, if anything. They're all on a mission but they've all still got time.

Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: The Post I've Been Dreading

More Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: Be Good, For Goodness' Sake

Preposterously Pixie-dusted and Perfectly Wonderful Birthday Wishes to Wee!
 accomplished
mood: accomplished
music: Sarah McLachlan—Ice Cream


Comments

I almost went into the center today. I just love the centrum this time of year. It is always so bright and cheerful! I just wish it would snow!

Sounds delightful. You can be both a city and a village girl. I am. (smaller cities that is, where I'm not having the driving blues)

i am a definite city girl. i loved this post, and how you made everything come to life. :D

I love Malmö at this time of the year. I feel fortunate enough to live in the country and be able to travel to the city easily enough to get my city fix and then come back into the country.

Liz you write so beautifully!!

Me too, but you know, days like yesterday make me wish that I lived in the city and could go out to the country to get my country fix and then go back again :)

Bookstores are the best of places and the worst of places. Okay, mostly the best of places, but they'd be better if I didn't have to budget my money or time when I visit them!

SO so so very true! :D

Cobblestones. You get to shop somewhere where the street is paved with cobblestones!

*sighs in quiet envy*

I don't know what it is that appeals to me so strongly, about cobblestones. I even love the word itself, the way it rolls off the tongue and conjures up images out of fairy tales and historical jaunts. The reality, of course, is that cobblestones are very hard on one's shock absorbers, and difficult to shovel clear. But I still love them. It seems odd to live in one of the oldest parts of the country, and not have any about.

The town where I grew up now has this thing about fake brick crosswalks. They put down fresh pavement on the road, then take a metal grid, lay it out where the crosswalk needs to be, and whack it into the warm tar. Then they peel it up, leaving behind a brick pattern, and do the next little section. When they're all done, they come back and paint the "bricked" crosswalk a dark red, mortar lines and all.

This does not satisfy my craving for cobblestones.

Yes, I know, I'm very strange...

That is the most bizarre thing I ever heard, about the fake cobblestones, but at the same time I can see how they are a HUGE pain to maintain. The cobbles (is that a word??) are also VERY expensive, from what I understand, so maybe it's a cost-saving measure? I love them, too, but I have to admit I am VERY wary of them now after hurting my foot this year. I'm so afraid I'm going to twist my ankle again walking on them.

I had an awful time with the cobblestones when I lived in Stockholm. Ever try walking around the Old Town in heels? But sidewalks in general in Sweden gave me a lot of trouble the first few years I lived in here. Where I grew up (LA) they were perfectly smooth and ideal for rollerskating. Here, people would rather rollerskate (or rollerblade, as one does nowdays) in the middle of the street than risk their necks on a city sidewalk.

At least my Swedish friends got a kick out of watching me trip and stumble down the street in those days. :P

I know I need to read "The Post I've Been Dreading," but when I get there it's formatted weirdly~~ I can only get a strip down the left side and a big blank section at the right, making for a VERY incomplete story : (

(Anonymous)

thank you, you gorgeous creature, for the um... Completely spontaneous-with-absolutely-no-pathetic-prompting-from-particular-pixies b-day greetings!!!!!!!! I adore you! You know that? I hope so. "Cuz it's absolutely and utterly true!!!!

xo wee

I haven't had a chance to have a good look around Malmö yet. Do they have decent bagels at the food halls? Is there a Gray's American Food Store there?

There is, indeed, a Gray's...and there are excellent bagels at Saluhallen in Lillatorg. :)

By the way, there's a message for you a few posts back, if you haven't already seen it :)

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