Tuesday, 22 February 2011

There's a Kind of Hush.....

At last....it has stopped snowing. For how long, though?........that is the question up here.  Doubt Peter Noone would have the answer. This morning at 08:00 we had -18 degrees. Now we have full sun and clear blue skies; as a result the temp has rocketed to a blistering -10. It will climb a bit higher I'm sure - before screaming off towards the bottom of the scale again at sunset.

It is usually pretty quiet hereabouts but after a prolonged snowfall the place is totally muted. Today, not even the farm or forest machinery is moving, so silence reigns. Charlie has gone off out on an expedition to find more feathered or/and furry tucker. He's pretty impressive at this. Especially with the furry stuff in the woodshed, which he often carts back to the house proudly, the poor wee sods dangling from his chops, held tightly by the head between his salivating jaws. The porch is blood-stained as a result, like a butchers block.

Here is a wee pic (admittedly remains) of one of his previous triumphs - not for the squeamish but can you identify it?:

It's kind of tricky to be sure but a hint...it was feathered and he followed it up with a different family member,  a Jay,  a few days later....a digestif, perhaps! God knows how he managed to catch them both but at least he (mostly) eats the things.

Now there's been precious little about the wine or France to date - save for the expense and difficulty of trying to buy the stuff in Sweden, of course. But that will change soon.  Right now, I'm busy packing boxes and the spare bedroom looks like a proverbial bombsite with dismantled bits & bobs, garden tables, lawnmower (I kid you not) and essential stuff needed for our move to France at the beginning of March. And of course, being in Sweden, no move would be complete without at least one IKEA thing, in this case a single bed,  dis-assembled with those daft, frustrating-to-use allen-key jobbies they seem to favour.

Having most of the pots & pans,  cutlery, crockery etc., already boxed makes it difficult at times of tucker but I'm managing - just about.  Still have the wine-glasses to hand, so not all doom and gloom. It's just the bloody boxes cluttering the place are a prize pain.

I had an email from our Teutonic neighbour, Roger,  who has gone off to Portugal for winter. He has moved into Spain now and tells me it was 20 degrees yesterday. It took me a while to assimilate this info, used as I am to thinking in Minuses at this time of the year! And while he was enjoying his morzilla and Rioja, no doubt, I was cutting wood - well for about 30 minutes anyway.

We arrived here with a (too) big mans powerful chain-saw bought in Spain (I'll explain another time), a Stihl with a gleaming, manly blade, still boxed. To this day, it remains unused; pristine, my innate mistrust of the damn things, coupled with the fact that for chopping firewood the natives up here use much more sensible gizmos, has given it an unexpected extended shelf-life.

We use a Norwegian thingy with a twirling 45cm blade,  a nice metal bit that takes metre lengths of split timber and needs 3-phase power to operate.  It's simple to use, needs only a nonchalant push action to chop the stuff up, a manly slide-along, sweeping action to position the next bit for cutting, and extreme care not to catch a glove or finger or hand in its whizzing teeth. When I first used it, I did so without hearing protection. This was a bad mistake. It makes such a high-pitched, zinging noise that I soon realised some eary things were essential to maintain the smooth operation of my lugs. It taught me forcibly the meaning of the word, 'zing'. In addition, a neighbour from the other side of the lake, a retired trucker from Goteborg (Gothenburg), Rolf, stopped me in my lumberjack tracks and told me it was stupid to work without protection and it would make me deaf.  Although he was gabbling in Swedish, I got the message. They know a thing or two about wood here. Most of the country is covered in the stuff, so they should.

Our friend and neighbour Håkan owns many hectares of forest. It is a prize asset here, always needed, wanted, argued over, used and escalating in value. He took one look at my chain-saw and almost choked with laughter at its size. It is in fact rather (much)  too big for non-commercial use - something that escaped my notice (knowledge) when purchased.  He recently felled about five or six enormous birch and pine trees that were blocking our mid-day/early afternoon sun at the front of the garden. It took him no time at all to accomplish this and he used a saw much smaller than ours. A humbling experience. I took a few photos of him in the middle of this task but cannot find my USB cable to download the things. Otherwise I'd stick one in here. I've just ordered a new lead, so will post them later, after it reaches me. For the moment, here's a pic of the same sort of trees before I get near them:

J took this piccy at sunset;  looks like there's a blaze in the forest! but it's just the sun dipping for the day.

And here is a shot of Håkan's farmstead in summer:  if you look closely you can just make out Rolf heading for the porch and Fika, wearing an outfit that ABBA would have been proud to air at any Eurovision outing.

Now I really must get back to packing up. Not much more left to do, mostly clothing, but it all takes time!  And how do you choose which books to take and which to leave behind?! Oh, and by the way, we have reached the giddying heights of -4 degrees (just as well I haven't packed the T-shirts yet) and Rolf has just whizzed past the house on his 'Sparka'. I'll explain another time.

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