Something strange came over me a few mornings ago.
For the first time in my life, I wished for it to be colder outside.
I woke up to the sound of rain washing away the sparkly bright snow from the rooftops. It is the saddest sound one can hear at 8am in the morning besides for that annoyingly persistent alarm clock. Temperatures have indeed risen to above zero, a travesty in midwinter Stockholm. Therefore, my heart yearns for the frosty air.
Indeed, I have fallen hopelessly in love with glacial winters.
How can this be?
1. Dark winters are beautiful when draped in snow
I have always had a love/hate relationship with snow. I loved it as a kid, because it meant missing school. I hated it as a university student because it became associated with being stuck in the Edinburgh airport for three days before Christmas break. In Sweden, snow takes on an entirely new, altogether more essential role. Snow restores light to the dark Swedish winters, brightening the late afternoons and illuminating the deathly noir of nights. Stockholm also happens to be the perfect canvas upon which the snow can leave its prints. Indeed, with fields, forests and lakes never too far, Stockholm quickly becomes a winter wonderland when it freezes over.
2. Dark winters are merrier when icier
Did you know that when you grow up in Sweden, ice-skating is most likely part of your sports curriculum in school? I think this is reason enough to grow up in a sub-zero climate. Even if you’ve only recently embraced your ‘Swedishness’, you can briskly make up for those lost years. If you need to rent skates, you can try the popular (though a little crowded) Kungsträdgården rink, in the middle of the city. Though further away, you can also glide over the ice of Östermalm’s spacious rink. If you own your own pair of skates (which you can buy for a decent price in most sports shops), the possibilities are limitless. There is a basketball field turned skating rink five minutes from my room!! My favourite location so far is the Vasaparken (St Eriksplan) rink, a short walk from campus. This large frozen rink in the middle of the park is the perfect location to practice your twirls, or play a game of ‘dodge the hockey puck’. After one year spent in Sweden, I have fulfilled my childhood dream of owning a pair of figure skates. Now I’m ready to dream larger: test my skates on an actual lake. If only the Swedish weather would behave!
Maybe the most admirable part of it all is how well Stockholm deals with snow and ice. Buses still run and sidewalks are promptly cleared of snow and ice. I have not fallen once (except on the rinks), something which could not be said of my four years in Scotland (black ice -my mortal enemy). Of course, the Pendeltåg doesn’t work so well. But when does it ever?