I am missing that lovey winter with crispy mornings already but when spring arrives there is a longing prospect in the air. A promise of warm summer evenings and swimming in the lakes. Longing for sun on our faces and eating ice cream under the apple trees, even though it comes with the sticky mix of sun milk and mosquito repellent :-). Soon the land wakes up and purple flowers appear everywhere.
The return of light provides a huge boost in energy and creativity every year, and this year is no different. No time for boredom! I still run out of hours one day. Sometimes I think I can function with a bit less sleep, but unfortunately, the sandman always wins.
On Fenne.be you can see several illustrations and info, but I want to share a hint here in case you want to try this too – I am making a series of prints with tetra pack, or the inside of milk/sauce cartons.
At the same time, I also know that this summer will not be like any other. It is still uncertain whether or not our Belgian friends will come here and whether the big parties such as Midsommar have any chance. The Valborg party at the end of this month, where we light a big fire with the whole village, has already been canceled. I don’t know if the drought would allow it, because there is a fire ban in many places NOW, but any gathering over 50 people is prohibited. After checks and warnings last week, some restaurants and cafes have been closed after not adjusting to the (very few) Corona measures here in Sweden.
We don’t have many rules here in Sweden and I see that the general reaction abroad has evolved in recent weeks from “the Swedes are crazy!” to “people with common sense!” Remarkable how quickly an opinion changes. First of all, Sweden has had every chance to excel in the statistics in a positive way. They saw a virus with unknown powers coming and decided to unilaterally declare an experiment without informing (even denying) the population and the lives of innocent people at stake. I cannot and will not stand behind such an approach, whatever the outcome may be within a year or two.
Apart from that, do people abroad think that we go out every day to hug friends at wild parties? Many (large) companies have already put their employees at home weeks ago- if that was possible, all stores now have screens and disinfectant products on the payment systems, the only pizzeria in our village burned down 2 years ago and the new one is still not ready- which means the only coffee house in the area is half an hour away. We hardly see our neighbors and usually from many meters away (the custom here is to keep a distance and wave or say “hej hej”). Our villages on a busy day are quieter than Belgium during the lockdown. Working sick is also always a taboo here.
What you see on the news are mainly images of Stockholm. And it’s common for people here to say: “You have Stockholm and the rest of Sweden”. Some places have already closed, but without government support, staying open may not be a real choice. The stats are clear, most of the infections and deaths come from the Stockholm region. In our province, which is about the size of the whole of Belgium, we have 700 confirmed cases and 82 deaths.
Earlier this week, a concerned friend sent a message asking if we might be doing social distancing after all because things got out of hand here. That is why I wanted to sketch a picture of the situation here and how we live. I have not spoken to anyone in person since our return from Belgium, Joeri still goes to the store to buy food and once went to Ikea to collect & go. It is not a 100% guarantee, we know that, but even without a lockdown, we have fewer contacts here than most in Belgium with a lockdown. We might be allowed more here but that doesn’t mean that want to take the risk for ourselves or others. We have quite a few friends who are considered to be in the risk group and I don’t want to infect them – regardless of how they handle the situation themselves.
I hope that people will not focus on Sweden versus the rest of the world. We are in a global pandemic, we are not toddlers in a sandbox who have to cry because one is allowed to play with the sand baking set and the other is not.
And now I’m going to listen to the bird singing a song on the branch next to my window.
See you later, take care!