On this day...
3 years ago: Slope, planted

Today was the last day of school, which the school celebrates the same way each year, with singing by the kids and speeches by the staff and other ceremony as well. It was sweet the first time I saw it and has gradually come to feel more and more boring and routine.

We have a tradition of our own, to celebrate the beginning of summer break with conveyor belt sushi in Kista, which we also did this year. After that the kids tried out the VR rigs at the mall at Kista, mostly on Ingrid’s initiative. Ingrid enjoyed the experience as much as she had expected; Adrian found it a bit scary and nauseating.

We dyed Ingrid’s hair pink and purple and blue, a.k.a. mermaid hair, because someone on Youtube had done it.

The result did not look quite as good as on Youtube – the colours were less vibrant. Ingrid was disappointed at first, but when she saw it in daylight the next day, she thought it was quite pretty after all.

We skipped the traditional national day picnic and replaced it with a sausage grilling hike around lake Källtorpssjön near Hellasgården.

It was a beautiful day for walking – warm and sunny without being too hot. We walked mostly through the usual Swedish rocky pine forest, with the occasional beautiful clifftop view of the whole lake. The trail was nice and varied, following the edge of the lake at times and getting deep in between trees at other times, and had just the right amount of ups and downs to remain interesting. The parts nearest the parking lots were relatively crowded, but there were fewer people further away, on the other side of the lake.

The trail’s only shortcoming was a lack of suitable picnic spots. Finally by early afternoon we were so hungry that we set up our picnic and grill right next to the path. I have a love-hate relationship with single-use aluminium grills: they seem so incredibly wasteful, but at the same time they are so incredibly convenient. And the grilling is an absolutely essential part of a hike for the kids, almost the whole point of it.

The kids had packed binoculars and were amazed at how much closer things seemed when looking through those. The binoculars also allowed us to spy on follow the progress of a swimmer who swam all the way across the lake to one of the islets and then back, towing a very visible red buoy which made him/her easy to spot.

It’s a squeeze day and I was going to take the day off but the situation at work just did not allow that.

But I did leave the office early enough in the afternoon that we had time for ice cream in the garden and running around in the grass.

Late spring and early summer is the time of sweet-smelling white-flowering shrubs and trees. Cherries, hagberries and lilacs are everywhere, including in our garden, and everyone loves them.

Today I noticed another white-flowering tree in the garden that rarely gets any attention: a whitebeam. I did know, in theory, that it also has white flowers but I’ve never actually noticed its flowering. I decided to take a closer look. It’s not as striking as a flowering cherry tree or a hagberry, because the blossoms are fewer and sparser, but still it has pretty sweet white flowers.

Or that’s what I thought until I got closer and smelled them. Up close they are anything but sweet. They actually smelled pretty disgusting. Cloying and sour, sort of rotten.

No wonder nobody writes poems about the Swedish whitebeam, or arranges festivals for its flowering.

Is it truly the third summer for this flowerbed already? The blog says so, so it must be true.

Galium odoratum is taking over more and more of it. It’s a good thing it’s both pretty and nice-smelling: it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if it occupied the whole flowerbed in five or ten years or so and pushed out even the larger perennials. Currently its spread still makes me happy.

After another stressful day in the office, I went out into the garden to look for peace. And photos. Those two go well together.

The first lilac flower I looked at was a five-petal one. Those are lucky in Estonia; I don’t know about the rest of the world. I remember hunting for them as a child. I spent my summers with my grandma at her summer cottage. That is what Estonian children do for summer – get sent to their grandparents. (Did thirty years ago, at least.) Swedish children – today at least – don’t do that. They get sent to camp instead.

I have many fond memories of my grandma’s garden. The cottage was there for us to sleep and eat in, and I remember it well, but it’s the garden I miss. And the forests nearby. Years after I moved to Sweden, she sold the place because she got back a part of her family’s lands, which had been expropriated when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. Of course I understand that that place was home to her on a deeper level than the summer cottage could ever be, but I still wish I could go back.

I can’t recreate that garden here, and any attempts to do so would be sure to fail. But it is there at the back of my head when I plant the garden I have. This garden also has birches that sigh in the wind, and swallows that fly past in the evening. There are berry bushes and rhubarbs and strawberries – and lilacs and poppies and hostas and bleeding hearts.

This is what the hallway looks like when Ingrid has a few friends over.

We’ve trained Ingrid and Adrian to at least put their shoes, bags and clothes to one side of the hallway, so it’s possible to get inside without stepping on stuff. But I guess they only do it because we keep nagging at them, not because they actually agree that it makes sense to do things this way. Apparently it doesn’t bother kids at all to have stuff lying around all over everywhere. Ingrid’s room is the same – there are things spread out over the floor and I have to watch where I step when crossing the room.

First we had the “snow” of cherry blossoms everywhere, including indoors, since we like keeping doors and windows open on hot days. Now some kind of yellow pollen is everywhere – on all kinds of surfaces in the kitchen, on the deck furniture, the car and everywhere else. In rain puddles it looks like an invasion of alien goo.

When I photograph a thing, I cannot help doing some research about it. I have now learned that the yellow dusty pollen in puddles is most likely from fir and pine trees, and – unlike most pollen – usually does not cause allergic reactions.