This queen don’t wave

  
A month or so ago, I bought a little model of Sweden’s Queen Silvia. Brandishing a handbag which encloses a solar panel, the energy from the sun is supposed to make her wave   She’s been standing on my window ledge for a while now in direct light. But for the last few days, that queen isn’t waving. Her hand remains still. Royally poised. But nothing happens. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Ingenting. 

It’s a clear indication of the lack of sunlight we’ve had in Stockholm recently. 

So little that the queen herself protests. 

Swedish sunflowers

sunflowers

Sunflowers might not be the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden. But at this time of year, the place is full of them. Well, not really sunflowers per se, but a type of sunflower.

The fantastic thing about sunflowers, apart from their brash yellow colour and the flocks of buterflies that they attract, is the way in which they move. Their big, open faces look up at the sky, reaching for the light, and when the sun is out the sunflower moves its face to follow the its path across the sky. They really enjoy soaking up the rays of light and the warmth that the sun provides. It’s a fantastic sight to behold as you drive through the countryside in France or Italy.

But we’re not in France or Italy, we’re in Sweden. So what has this got to do with Sweden then?

Well, Swedes are like sunflowers.

Confused? Let me explain.

After a long, dark, cold winter, Spring eventually arrives.  This year, it seemed to arrive yesterday. Temperatures soared to 17 degrees celcius, the sky was blue and people hit the streets and the parks. Everybody emerged from their winter hybernation.

They sat on park benches, on blankets, on window ledges, on balconies. They leaned up against sunny walls. And as they sat there, they lifted their faces, just like sunflowers, to face the sun and to feel the warming rays of light on their pale wintery skin. Sometimes people just stopped randomly on street corners and lifted their faces up to the sun, eyes closed, to soak up the light.

So you see, Swedish sunflowers are the Swedes themselves. And you’d be hard pushed to find a more sun-worshipping, thankful population at this time of the year.

Swedes – look up!!

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I shared the bus journey this morning with ten other people. Of these ten people, 8 of them had their heads buried in their mobile phones. White headphones on, they were captivated by their little screens. Reading the news, playing a game, updating their statuses was more important than what was going on physically around them.

Outside the sun was shining, the sky was blue and Stockholm looked fantastic. It was a lovely morning, full of energy and light. But these 8 people completely missed it. Think what we all miss when we get sucked into our screens rather than observing the environment around us. Think of the beauty we do not encounter, or the opportunities we miss.

So I’d like to issue a challenge. Next time you’re on the bus, or the tube, or the train – look up! Who knows what you might discover.

Sunny Stockholm Sunday

Facebook is today inundated with photographs of the great outdoors. After a long, dark autumn the sun is shining brightly over Stockholm and the sky is royally blue. Photos of people on skis, frozen lakes, rust-colored facades, glistening trees, ice crystals, chilly dogs, and snow-covered rooves abound. Like hibernating bears, the people of the Swedish capital emerge from their lairs when the sun appears. And at this time of the year, a cold, bright white sun is the perfect remedy to the winter blues. Stockholm is a breath-takingly beautiful city on these crisp, February days. So, it’s just to put on the woolly hat, the scarf, gloves, thick coat and winter boots and head outside for your shot of beauty and vitamin boost.

Here’s a picture from my walk:

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