Settling In

Our first night in Sweden we weren't sure that the sun had ever set that evening.

We fell asleep at 9.30 pm with the sun still up, and awoke at 6 am to the sun streaming through our  massive un-curtained window. I didn't think we were that far north, but it turns out we are far north enough that the sun doesn't set until 10 pm.

Our first morning Jacob and I were bouncing around with energy, so our host family Tomas and Amy, decided to put us to work. Jacob did manual labor (restoring a wood floor), while I got to do the fun stuff - help bake for the cafe.

Amy runs a cafe in the bottom level of the house, serving mostly "Fika" items, the Swede's beloved coffee break. There are some regular customers, but the majority of the visitors are tourists on vacation, or passing bicyclists. The food consists mostly of pastries and breads, a large amount of the ingredients sourced from foraging in the woods and her own garden. She bakes her own bread every day, grows her own salads and vegetables, and decorates her pastries with edible flowers from the garden.

Needless to say this keeps Amy quite busy, so it will be one of my main tasks to bake with her every morning. I really can't complain - I'm happy as a clam spending my day around food. Especially this food - there is going to be a lot of pictures of food for the next month.

Home grown mini Rhubarb pie, and Lemon Thyme flat bread

In the afternoon we all went out to a nearby lake for a swim. On the drive there we saw a moose.

Now we are in Sweden, where "hot summer days" max out at 70 degrees. Beautiful, but not ideal for swimming in a frigid lake - especially not for those of us spoiled by the California sun. Our host family jumped into the lake as if it was a balmy tropical day with bath temperature water. However it took us a lot of self-motivational speeches to finally flop into the water (which was about 55 degrees Fahrenheit), but we did and it was worth it. At least now we have the bragging rights.

That night Tomas took us out on a "Beaver Safari". We pulled on our boots, bathed our selves in bug spray, and stalked silently along the river bank. Beavers apparently have terrible eyesight, so if we were quiet enough and stood still for a while, they would begin to mistake us for trees. We saw four beavers in about two hours, walked a couple miles, and circled back to the house as it started to get dark.

The next morning was filled with more baking for me and floor scraping for Jacob, until the afternoon when we took a break to go berry picking. Armed with a basket and Swedish berry-picking contraptions, we marched off into the woods, doing our best to act like we had a clue what we were doing.

The forests here are pretty magical. It's not surprising that the majority of our fairy-tales originated in this country.

We managed to find raspberries, wild strawberries, and blueberries. We also picked an unknown berry which we thought might be currants - but they weren't currants. They were poisonous. Whoops.

It's pretty incredible what you can find in these woods if you know what to look for. Amy has promised to teach us how to find mushrooms.

We came back exhausted, happy, and hands stained with berry juice. It seems like life here may take less adjusting than I had first thought.