...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Before winter ends

Time really goes unbelievably fast, in hindsight. It seems that I keep putting things away – one day, one week at a time – and I get a surprise when I open my calendar and see that yet another month had passed. My brain is still somewhere in February. Outside the window, it's not winter anymore, but the first signs of spring are starting to show. Small colorful flowers. Buds on trees. Warmth. Sun. This time of the year last year I took lots of short walks with Marcus around the river and remembered feeling a small sense of hope in that we survived the winter and all the ordeals that came with that time of the year. Today I look around and can appreciate beauty when I see it, but I'm not quite so sure that I'm as hopeful looking at all these spring signs. Sometimes I feel that if I die today, it wouldn't make much of a difference for me personally. As a matter of fact, it really wouldn't. How many people really know what they're living for? Maybe some people just hadn't thought of the question.

I mentioned projects the last time. They're good. They're like car fuel that fills you up a few more miles for the journey before you run on low. It takes focus away from shortsightedness that comes with reflecting on your own existential loneliness. So I'm going to talk about that.

This year, I want to: Build muscles; Learn to swim crawl; Learn to paddle kayak; Hike, hike, hike, among other places up in the Swedish mountains. Eventually, take up orienteering. I want to go out and be in nature as much as I can, and maybe motivate others to share these experiences with me.

I want to do more interviews for my dissertation. I want to be done writing my third dissertation-related article by autumn. I want to have started writing my final dissertation-related article by the end of the year. More than ever I want this dissertation to clearly reflect me, as a writer and as a thinker.

And after that, we'll see.


I'm doing alright as far as my first set of goals are concerned. Last month, I managed to convince Lea (who was on a visit) to sleep overnight with me in a wind shelter, in the middle of the forest, in the middle of winter. I've always wanted to do this, and I don't think Lea quite realized when she said yes that I had never camped out in winter before myself. That just proves that sometimes you can convince people by just sounding confident. But of course, in the middle of winter out in nowhere, it actually does help if you don't go out completely clueless.

Our winter night out was, I believe, a success despite some really funny boo-boos, like taking for granted that we could wash our faces by the lake and finding out that the lake was frozen solid.

And then, there's that problem with a summer camping gas stove not entirely working optimally in -6 C degrees, which we found out in the morning when about to cook “Sunday soup” (It was really called that! A German soup called Sontags Suppe). For one thing, the water – liquid form, mind you – hastily became frost as soon as it was poured into another container:

So the stove had to first be able to melt these ice crystals before actually boiling the soup, and heating the freeze-dried noodles and meatballs that were supposed to be floating in it.

Voilà! After an hour and a half of cooking with cold gas on a minus-degree morning and windy conditions, the soup was not even lukewarm and the noodles and meatballs were as crunchy as muesli. Then again, prepared for any eventually, we had thermoses with hot water and other food like canned sardines and hard bread (really good. They stay crispy and dry because they hardly have any moisture in them). Though having to warm both drinking water and food in our mouths, I must say that breakfast turned out pretty okay after all. After arriving home though, Lea ordered a better camping stove for me. Next time, I'll also remember to bring more socks and gloves for comfort.

What Lea appreciated the most, she said, was being in a place where there were hardly any man-made sounds. In the night, there was no light but that of the moon, and no sound but that of the wind, the trees, the crackling fire, and the lake ice as it expanded and contracted.

At times like that I feel what a beautiful thing it is to be able to experience. I feel alive. But there's also a sadness for another, for whom these experiences were not to be. Maybe that's why the spring signs don't give me hopefulness. But they are beautiful; I must give them that.

Greetings from me to you!


Anonymous Lou Lou said...

Oh my God. Your to'do list is making me tired. My goals for the next few weeks is just to turn up for work on time.

I am so impressed by your night-time adventures!! I don't think I would have been able to do that!

9:14 PM

Anonymous Jeline said...

"More than ever I want this dissertation to clearly reflect me, as a writer and as a thinker." - I can relate so much to this. I want that very much for myself too, amidst all the pangs of uncertainty.

What an amazing to-do list! :) I wish I could go back to camp with you. I miss Sweden a whole lot. You can't see any stars here in SG - mas marami ka pang makikita sa Pinas. Disconcerting.

Hugs from me to you, as always. :)

3:53 PM

Anonymous Joyce said...

Nice to hear what you're up to!... I get choked up reading you writing. Projects are a good thing. Definitely blog about your hiking :) I get the most traffic from people searching for information on hiking in Sweden. Kram på dig!

11:00 AM


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