...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Annual summer leave

Dear blog,

I sometimes think about you like an old friend I should be writing to. And today, when I looked up at the ceiling from the guest bed here in the countryside, I thought that today was as a good time as any other. After all, writing is like a muscle – it atrophies when unused. And in the second place, time here in the countryside is slow. Though I’m not bored, I feel that I have infinite amounts of time here, as if time were stretched. That means I have the whole day ahead of me to sit the cat, tend to the garden, go for a run, and to sit down and write those lines I’d been thinking I should write to you one day.

As I write, I’m on a five-week long vacation – the longest break I’ve had since school summer vacations. It was rather scary deciding to be free for so long. What was I going to do with all my time? Yet, I felt that I owed it to myself to decide on a long break. When I had a part-time job last summer, I don’t remember taking more than a week’s leave. And two summers ago, I was too busy working on my thesis I practically worked all summer. That said, I had nice summers and I also did some memorable activities worthy of the name summer break. But maybe I should try this thing normal working people call “annual leave” for a change. Whatchathink? 

So far so good.

I’ve gone on The Hobbit and Harry Potter movie marathons at home. I finished all the movies in about a span of about a week and a half!

It's also nice to be home since I'm tending to my vegetable-growing project on the balcony. Here's how the plants looked like in the start of June: two kinds of parsley, chard, kale, zucchinis and strawberries. I've already harvested chard- and kale leaves. And as of last week, the zucchini plant had 4 small veggies the strawberries grew bright pink flowers.

The plants are bought from seedling and planted in contrainers that were all found in the trash (a large red plastic pot someone threw away in the building's trash room, and two file cabinet shelves).

I loaded up on summer reading at the second hand store. My reading theme two years ago was Robinsonade, featuring Kon-tiki and Robinson Crusoe. I continued the exploration theme last year with Into the Wild and a book about the failed André expedition to the north pole. This year, my reading list is Norwegian-themed, featuring Aku aku (by the same Thor Heyerdahl who rode and wrote Kon-tiki), crime novels by Jo Nessbø and an old book about car trips around Norway (which remains a thing to do in my life). I also have a couple of new non-fiction from the internet, The Cloudspotter’s Guide and Cooked. The Cloudspotter's guide probably needs another read before I can tell all the cloud species, but I know so much more now about weather than when I began reading; all from "herring sky" to why a red sunset means good upcoming weather and why fronts are called fronts.  

 View of lake Vättern from Jönköping.
Altocumulus in the foreground and cirrostratus in the background?

I’ve started running again. And most importantly I’ve begun to break the 10-kilometer mark again. It feels good. It feels indescribably rewarding. At first, it was hard to motivate myself to run again after a long pause. Short runs felt good but weren’t enough to keep me hooked. I was convinced that only long runs could give me the lust for running again. So I did a couple of very slow 10 km jogs first, with the goal of just making it to the end. I even bought a copy of Runner’s World to keep me motivated. And it worked, after a couple of weeks. Now beyond the 10 km-hurdle, I look forward to long runs again. Running is my take on meditation; I’m quite convinced it makes me into a better person. In a run I have no phone, no music, and I just listen to sound of my breath and the birds, and I feel that everything else can wait.

I also have a new acquisition: a kayak. I had been dreaming about owning a kayak for quite a while now, weighing pros and cons of buying vs. renting, thinking about where to store it, and thinking about models. Lately I’ve been talking about this dream again to some friends and colleagues of mine. And when things hadn’t been going so smoothly with the boat repair project – I have to write about that topic some other time this week – I had been seriously thinking about how nice it would be to just get out with a kayak and a tent somewhere. A few calls to kayak shops and a well-needed shove of encouragement and I was a kayak-owner finally. With no less than a kayak I am totally happy with. I used to say this during PhD days, but it still applies: I’ve got time and money, and that makes a lot of things possible. I was paddling some evenings ago to test my kayak and I am still convinced that this was my best buy in many years, to be enjoyed for many years to come.

*smile that ends at my ears*

See ya later, alligator!


Anonymous Lizzy said...

Hiya, Joy! I highly recommend the 1933 novel "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton for your reading list. I try to take it with me whenever I go on a mountain vacation.

9:17 PM


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