“Där är det sommar, men här inne är det höst”. (Trubbel, Monica Zetterlund)
Two times a year, if you have a social media newsfeed with a certain percentage of Sweden-based people, you are sure to get the same photos. It is like a law of nature (indeed!), it will happen. Every October, your facebook feed will be spammed with pictures of snow, accompanied by the comment, “OMG Is it winter already?! I hate living in Sweden!” From my experience, the first snow always comes in the end of October, then leaves again, and returns in November. If I could deduct this from only a few years in Svealand, you would think the natives would have figured the pattern as well. The same goes for spring – every April, all channels of social media are simultaneously bombed by photos of the cherry tress in Stockholm that have just started blooming. It seems to be mandatory to post a photo of those and you can bet your bottom dollar on that people will do exactly that in April. This year even the German newspaper I work at updated their German cover photo with the Stockholm cherry blossoms! I was amazed – and while there is some kind of monotonous predictability to it, it is also a great source of comforting reliability. Whatever happens, cannot alter one thing: cherry blossom instagrams in April. Some might even see this as a allegory to the whole Swedish culture.
Germans are known to be terribly reliable which is in most cases true. Seasonal reliability is, however, completely absent in this country. One day in April you will experience 25 degrees and sunshine, the next week it is snowing. Everytime you think, spring is around the corner, you can be disappointed. Summer is an optional thing, sometimes it occurs in May with 35 degrees and then never returns until the next year.
The acclaimed German author Kurt Tucholsky already wrote in his 1920s book “Schloss Gripsholm” that when Germans think of Sweden, they think of “terribly cold, Ivar Kreuger, matches, terribly cold, blonde women, terribly cold.” People here now might think of Bullerby a lot, too, but they hold onto their firm belief that Sweden must be a place without warmth. I tell them about the Swedish summer and the cherry blossoms, I say that I have experienced that you can rely on spring greeting you exactly the week after Valborg. They give me skeptical looks. Of course it never gets quite as warm as in Germany. But at least you can rely on the season turning into a new one at all! Yes, I envy you who put up sunny Easter pictures.
While I write this and the rain pours down the window, I am looking forward to photographing the cherry blossoms in Stockholm next week. Actually, it might be a good thing we do not know yet if summer will ever come in Germany. My mind is very much behind the seasons, for me it is still fall or winter, but definitely not anything like happy spring. As long as there is no summer around me, I can blind out the memories of the last Stockholm summer and fight the incredible longing for the archipelago…