The magic of Midsummer's Eve.

This coming Friday, it is Midsummer’s Eve. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of a Swedish Midsummer’s Eve, I can tell you that it’s the national day for getting eaten alive by mosquitos, “involuntarily” drinking schnapps flavored with elderflowers (even though our fathers does not smell of the berries), BBQing whatever we can get our hands on from the trashed half empty shelves of anything BBQable in the stores and being outside in dresses and shorts even though it’s just a few degrees above freezing come sunset.

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Imagine a country full of self-controlled people that lives in the darkness and cold of the north for eight months every year. Then imagine there being quite a lot of the heathen ways left, in spite of Christianity’s tries to subdue them. Most of our holidays are Christian (somewhat) in origin and we, as a pure and godly collection of folks, of course use the days off of work to get pissed in public. But Midsummer’s is a little bit different.

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Firstly, it’s our only holiday of any weight during the summer months. So not only do we get off of our faces in public, we also get to accept our heathen spirits that still roam these lands and give ourselves the opportunity to flee out into the countryside and have sex outside because it’s tradition to do so (some people are denying this, I don’t know why?). All the while freezing to death and being eaten alive by mosquitos, of course. That act of survival is a vital ingredient in any early-to-late night outdoor activity in Sweden. Why one should have sex outside on the night that the sun nearly doesn’t set at all and gives you the absolute minimum of darkness to protect your privacy I don’t know, but hey, it’s tradition after all!

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As dark as the night gets. It's kind of magic really.

As you can tell, it’s obviously the finest holiday of them all and of course, everything I’m telling you is true (except for the sex part, but one can wish, right!). Also, everything you've heard about people jumping around a pole like little frogs are true. Only parents though, and their kids. The rest of us stands around in the background, happy that we don't have to.

Now, I don’t have a set tradition apart from the aforementioned BBQ and schnapps, I just jump on whatever location being offered that the drinking and BBQing (how about some halloumi rolled in chili flakes, ugh so good!) can take place with nice folks. This year I’m shipping myself off to a country side dwelling about an hour away from town with a bunch of people ranging from friends to strangers, to eat and drink a lot during 26 hours.

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What could possibly go wrong?

A little trip to Dalarna

Home again; I’m sitting by the computer in my little apartment. I’ve just returned from a six day trip with my two best friends. We got the chance to rent a cabin in the lovely Dalarna, close by where we as teens had a cabin through an association at school. Packing a week’s stuff worth of stuff, we ventured inlands to the hills and valleys and the accompanying wonderful views. It’s all been calm and quiet, and so, so great. We’ve talked about life, gone thrift shopping, cozied up in front of the fire, gone to a knife outlet (Mora, hähä) stared at the wonderful nature, laughed, cooked, watched Brits compete in baking and interior design and gone to bed early.

Not at all like when we used to visit this place when we were in high school, that is. Back then it was more like anything microwaveable, using the floor as a refrigerator for our beer because it was so cold, collecting water in the public water/toilet house because there was no running water in the cabin and having a hot cup of coffee on the front porch with its glorious views, trying to fight off the hangovers.

Fifteen years later it was lovely to get to see the same views again, with my two best ones in life. It all has meant and does mean so much to me; having the history and that we’ve gotten the opportunity to do these kinds of things together. Invaluable.

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How it looked during our time. My love.

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The cottage has changed a lot, and I'm guessing that there's not much left of the original. But everything changes. 

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Dalarna is one of Sweden's most beautiful regions, that's for sure.

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It's like time froze 120 years ago, and I LOVE IT.

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Eheh.. Funny.

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Storstupet, "The big fall". A little canyon with it's train bridge built in 1902 and a logger's chute in order for the logs to get down stream unharmed.. Not far from here is a place called Helvetesfallen, "The Hell Falls", that is wonderful also, but walking through 2 kilometers of knee deep snow didn't really tickle our fancy, so we missed out on that one. Next time! 

It's been truly lovely, and I'm ever so greatful to have these people and memories in my life. I'm one lucky gal, after all.

The musical festival came to town

Festivalen är över. Till skillnad från den tur vi hade i helgen, så regnade det hela söndagen. Jag gissar på att det gråa svala svalkade mången bakfull besökare i kampen att hitta tillbaka till den trista vardagen efter två dagar i musikens värld. Köerna till barerna var tidvis alldeles för långa, kanske för att man blev kokt levande i publikhavet under den frätande solen. 

Ack så trevligt det var. Tänk ynnesten att få ha detta på gångavstånd, regnfritt, myggfritt och med ork! Förra året var jag slut som artist och orkade liksom inte med riktigt. I år rullade det bara på och var trevligt, och ett gäng med band fick man äran att se på nära håll. 

Historiskt tveksamma gänget Amon Amarth med sin järnåldershjälm och så hornen på det... Jag gick och införskaffade mig cider innan dom slet fram den uppblåsbara draken, den fick jag se på håll.

Åh, Bloodbath. Älskade.

(lägg till gällt skrikande från undertecknad här)

Vi värmde upp lite smått i torsdags med öl, ledigt fredag såklart! Vänner, nya bekantskaper, musiken, vädret, en perfekt helg! Nu är det bara resten av sommaren kvar. 

I SURVIVED FIVE NIGHTS IN A TENT

Yes. There were doubts. Not only I questioned my ability to survive, I don’t doubt for a second that my more questionable friends (meaning, all of them) put their wagers in on how long it would take before I snapped, and in a pure fit of camping-rage stomped off to catch the train the hell out of there after throwing all my belongings into the nearby river. Not for a second I felt confident that I would survive five days and five nights in a fucking tent.

You know the movies where city people gets shuffled out in nature and have to adapt, and while doing so being bitchy morons? Yeah, I sort of felt like that when in the middle of us trying to find a spot to set camp in the muggy, mosquitoey pine tree forest, it started raining. A lot. When it started raining a little bit too much, we retreated to the car. Where it started hailing. A lot.

“So. Now that we’ve seen Näsåker, we can return home right?” may have slipped past my forced smile while I surrendered to the thought of five days in this hell. I would now spend five days and five nights in a tent, as the first camping experience since that one time when I was eight and it was TERRIBLE.

22 years later, it was said and done. When the rain and hail cleared a bit we returned and set camp, raised the tarps to shelter us from the impending flood rains both from above and below, and pimped the place out with rugs, blankets and a little folding table that the novice city dweller (me) had brought even though I was questioned because a table? Really? Is this glamping?

But! I managed to keep calm, settled, social and sociable during all the five days, through non-existent sleep, ice water showers, bongo drums pounding their way into my brain around the clock, huge gatherings of people and non-stop hanging out. With just two withdrawals into the tent during the day time to collect myself a little, it was fine. Almost no mosquitos, no bugs really (In Sweden? During summer?? Wat), wonderful live music and the morning coffee does actually taste better after having lived through the hell of freezing to the brink of death every night.

Because no one used said glamping table later on.. 

Midday slumber on a blanket

I watched other people cook

Pretty cosy!

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We stared at different types of water

And of course the rock carvings stemming from the bronze age and stone age

Being who I am, I of course dragged people to the museum and bought myself a souvernir

We drank coffee and bathed in the river, played mountain goats in the cliffs.

So, when we squeezed into the car with all the packing, ready to go home, what was my final opinion?

I believe the most surprising thing was the lack of mosquitos, we had more wasps than mosquitos! Better yet, even more surprising was that this city dweller brought the wrong sleeping bag because I HAD TWO OF THEM? Teeth chattering along with the wasp trying to find its way out of the screen room, I couldn’t even close it because it was so tight. My roomie and I swapped and it got a little better, but I still froze so much that I couldn’t stay asleep when I finally dozed off. A couple of bands were amazing and the spring rolls were AMAZING ahem ate them for three days straight.

So, the Urkult festival and hanging around the camp, 5/5 would definitely do again. Sleeping in a tent: 0/5, PEOPLE DO THIS WILLINGLY?

The Monday after Gefle Metal Festival

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I’m in my bed. I’ve worked today, and then it was time for a nap. Next to me rests a cat. In the corner of my eye I see another one, curled up on a blanket on the floor. My door is open, and through it creeps music. Soft, oriental in its nature, and beside it I get a story told. A story about a city, with all its noises, the chuckling of hens, wagons rolling over cobbles streets, the murmur of people going about their day, laughing, discussing. The boys are going on a new adventure in their role play session, while I’m curled up in my bed, saying no thanks to any social interaction.

There was no rain during the festival, bless it. We hung out, laid splayed out on the few lawns that decorate the area. It was perfect. New and old friends, the tones of metal music thundering out over the landscape, people gathering to catch a glimpse of their favorite bands in the company of other worshippers, also raising their fists to the heavens in pure excitement.

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Long haired friends looking at long haired fans watching long haired musicians

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Finally I got to see At the Gates live, the band that was my gateway in to the world of metal music, the wonderful aural environment that I surround myself with to this day. Dark grey, heavy clouds towered over us the entire weekend, withholding their tears, just enhancing the stage shows with their lights and effects. The beer flowed, and a little too pleasantly at times, at least for some when meeting the more progressive acts. I met a friend coming down the ramp from one of those acts, raising his hands in defeat, stating “This, is waay too complicated for me right now”.

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I skipped the more cult classics as Abbath and Sportlov, and it somewhat irks me today but I know I wouldn’t have appreciated it anyways. I saw the bands I came there for, looking calm on the outside but screaming like a fan on the inside, hung out with our three house guests for the weekend and had a bloody good time.

But now I’m all spent, and this introvert will keep to herself for the next few days to regain energy.

Lovely!