Stockholm is striking in its beauty; the buildings are straight out of an urban European novel. But one surprise about the look of the city is how even its majestic architecture and small-city charm can seem depressing in the November weather. I expected that a city so far north (so far north in fact that it would be uninhabitable if not for the Gulf Stream) would see snow once November rolled around. And though I’ve seen two snowfalls thus far, the skies are mostly grey. Very, very grey. It has been weeks since I’ve seen the sun, a luxury I forgot to enjoy in tropical Bangkok. And though the city is still elegant, the depressing blanket of grey clouds that surround it on an almost daily basis do detract from its allure.
It is a rainy, cold Sunday and the weather is so depressing that one would have to find a compelling reason to leave the house to brave the elements. But not Swedes. The weather is so typical for this time of year that to them it is a mere annoyance. People are still out and about, running errands and in particular, taking walks, an activity so loved by the English, I never thought I’d see another culture embrace it with such gusto. On the weekends, this is the activity of choice and my best guess is that even if a meter (I’m working on using my metrics) of snow was falling, Swedes would still turn to each other with an excited look, strap on some snowshoes and crunch around.
In addition to the dank cold and heavy clouds, this time of year also brings 3:30 pm sunsets, if you could call them that. The sun stretches and yawns at about 3 pm and starts tucking in for the night, an occurrence that makes it impossible for my brain to function once it sinks below the horizon. It’s quite unfortunate for my new employers.
As I sit here writing at 1:30 pm, I try to savor the last two hours of daylight and remember this time. This glorious time when the sun is still in the sky (so to speak) at 2:30 pm. Because in a month, the sun will rise at 9 am, set at 2:30 pm and I will flee to the Canary Islands. Or hibernate. Deliberations are still underway.