Saturday, 19 February 2011

Not more snow!

God knows why I am doing this now........from northern Sweden, a few short weeks before leaving the country permanently to live in SW France, Dept 79. But it's snowing again......and, if nothing else, I hope to escape the near constant snow that we have had this winter.......snow, snow och mer sno, as they might say up here. And the temperatures.......don't even think of it. Minus 30 this morning. Bloody cold, makes yesterday's meagre -25 seem almost attractive!

We were expecting a decent display of auroral lights last night but although the skies were clear and gloriously blue, the moon was the dominant factor, with the entire area basking in its brilliance, making it too bright for northern light.
Recently we have been receiving a daily visit from a very pretty, young fox - a male, I think. He comes to scrape up the fallen birdseed from below the feeders in the front garden. Feeling sorry for the poor bugger, I've taken to giving him some tucker - usually cat food and scraps, which he seems to enjoy. Indeed he's becoming - not tame, thankfully - less afraid of my presence. This morning he saw me approach and skirted round a bush, to watch me. Our cat - Charlie - however had other thoughts in mind and chased him off. Still, undeterred, he was back in a matter of minutes. He must be starving in this snow-covered, frozen landscape.  And before anybody starts griping, I know they kill hens, ducks etc., we've lost a fair number of both to the wily sods over the years. But it's still a pleasure to be able to help them out in winter.
We've been here almost 5 years now and this is easily the coldest winter we've witnessed. Temps were already plunging below -30 before Xmas, virtually unheard of, according to local neighbours. Unfortunately, they appear to be stuck around there, though the end of the month holds a promise of some relief.

There is a wide-held belief that Sweden is a fine, sensible liberal democracy. Unfortunately, not true. For the most part, it is an unpleasant country, with illiberal institutions and greedy businesses that have no interest in customer care. The Ombudsman system is a farce, education and health services are crumbling, and our internet provider, when asked for the addition/inclusion of its much trumpeted VOIP internet phone service, quite simply refused to provide on the grounds, I quote: 'you are not Swedish!' The discrimination Ombudsman, to whom we complained, seemed to think this was perfectly acceptable! Extraordinary. Anyway, that's enough of an anti-Sweedle rant for now! Good to get it off my chest.

Life here is, of course, something completely different: Snow lies around till May. WHen it goes, the ground remains frozen for some time. As a result - even with a glass-house - there are limits to what can be grown. We favour as much self-sufficiency as possible. Here, in Sweden, the 23 odd hours of daylight in summer can be a hindrance rather than a help, and with sandy soil in our hamlet, some crops don't even hatch!

The village, a smattering of about 15 houses spread over a huge, forested area and surrounded by 50 lakes, is set in a nature reserve - designated for its unusual geological formations rather than flora or fauna, though these themselves are impressive: Brown bears; European moose; Lynx; Beavers; Eagle & Great Grey Owls; Black-throated Divers; Slavonian Grebe; Cranes etc. An interesting living backdrop to daily life.

I'll try to import some pix of the area, but might find that troublesome. Tried and failed......Next time, maybe!

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