I am no longer the picky eater I was a child, but going to Sweden can sometimes make me feel like that kid again, begging for chicken fingers and fries. Gravad lax, herring, dill and cream – just not in tune with my palate. But the sweets? The treats? That’s another story. I have grown to love some delicious Swedish sweets that I overindulge in every time I visit.
Luckily, Swedes have built sweets into a formal part of their day. Fika, an afternoon tradition of coffee and cake, is a common practice for most Swedes. When I’m there, I tend to have fika morning noon and night, but I figure I’m making up for all those missed fikas when I’m not there. My favorites? Princess torta is my true obsession (you can get it at Wuollet’s in MN for those of you in the land of 10,000 lakes). A great morning treat – kanel bulle or kardumumma bulle (cinnamon or cardamom rolls). On a hot Swedish day (ok – oxymoron – more like just a great treat) - mjukglass. It’s just softserve ice cream, like Dairy Queen, but I have always had a soft spot for softserve (hehe), and there’s no DQ in Germany. I love it. For my official fika, I might take a choklad biskvi. I especially like the ones they sell at the COOP in Djursholm, but I can’t figure out why they are different. So delicious…Can’t wait to go back.
But enough about food. That’s not what this trip was about. In fact, we decided to go to Sweden this summer so that we could spend some time with Simon’s great grandfather (Nonno - Martin’s morfar) at their cabin in Torsby, Sweden. Nonno is 87 years old, and a truly amazing man, for many reasons. After turning 50, he competed in the Vasaloppet 12 times (90 km cross-country ski race). Every two weeks, he takes care of his wife (Nonna), who spends the other 2 weeks in a nursing home. He doesn’t like eating in restaurants because he doesn’t trust the food. But also, he’s 87, still drives himself 5+ hours to their cabin, and then works his butt off to keep the place up.
So Martin, Simon and I were there to help. Of course, with Simon there it was more like Martin was there to help. I laid in the grass with Simon and read a book in 2 days, which felt really good. It had been a LONG time since I had done that.
I digress. Martin and Nonno spent the better part of 3 days mowing the lawn, raking, and mowing the lawn again, as it had been 2 months since anyone had been at the cabin. Nonno, who has a bum knee and walks with hand crutches, could also be seen climbing a ladder to the roof, crouching under the riding lawn mower, raking grass, or manning the trimmer (which he eventually forbade Martin to do).
But it wasn’t all just work. Nonno got to play and bond with his great-grandson – and they both seemed to love every minute of it. They even shared a first experience – eating their first smore together.
We actually fit quite a lot into this trip, as Torsby was not the only part. We met up with an old Mac friend at his family’s summer house in the Swedish archipelago, hung out with some of Martin’s old childhood friends, and got to see Martin’s siblings (and Simon’s cousins) in Stockholm. Even though we usually don’t have a lot of time to spend with people when we visit Stockholm, it means a lot to reconnect face-to-face for even just a couple of hours. It makes it seem like we don’t live so far away, like our lives aren’t so disconnected.
In so many ways, this was a really, really sweet trip. We hope to do it again next year.