Saturday, April 30, 2011

Valborg: The eve of May

So today is April 30th. Back home this is just another day. Here in Sweden it is a day, or night, of celebration. The eve of May is very exciting; Swedes and many other Europeans cultures celebrate the coming of spring with large bonfires, singing and dancing. I had not heard of this, and didn't realize how special it was. I nearly missed out completely, but I did manage to make it a bonfire here in Djursholm. In a small harbor on the Baltic Sea there was a small group surrounding the last of a once great bonfire that glows hot orange. The moonlight is reflecting on the glass still waters of the sea and a cool breeze blows the warmth of the fire to my face as I approach the group. Cold crisp air and the smell of a bonfire is intoxicating to me, it always has been. That feeling and smell now brings back so many memories of nights spent in the wilderness of the Southwest. The memories of all those nights I rested after a long day of building trail, muscles tired and achy, and stared up into the heavens at the vastness of space and dreamt of travel. Here I am now, in the midst of my adventure, my travel, at the edge of the Baltic Sea feeling the last few fleeting hours of the long Swedish winter upon my face and watching the fire and smoke dance in the shadows of the night. I stand, alone, not knowing anyone and observe. I hear a small group starting to sing a song I cannot understand, but it is a happy song. I stand beside a group of young guys speaking in Swedish and am now able to understand the jest of their conversation about "The Godfather”. Their Swedish is interspersed with English quotes from the movie, each trying their best Brando. To my right is a family of three roasting wieners on sticks and enjoying the night. A beautiful golden retriever bounces behind me, also excited by the night. I stand, taking it all in. The sea, the scene, and just how far I have come from what I know. I look up at the house in front of me as I walk away from the fire and see a Swedish flag blowing in the night. It is a shadow, colors indistinguishable, that dances with the smoke billowing past. Everything seems to be welcoming spring and the sunlight that has for months now been a loved one gone too long and the fireworks begin in the distance as a 21 cannon salute fires off from the Palace in Stockholm for the Kings 65th birthday. The Earth trembles from the sound of the cannons and the explosions of the fireworks. Valborg and the Kings celebration fill this eve of May with excitement and life. I breath in the smell of the fire in the night, take in the sound of the cannons and enjoy the coming of Spring.

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