Which is exactly the kind of snow that fell across the city this past weekend—and exactly what we did in it.
When Johanna, Selina and I made a play date for for yesterday I started scrolling across Google Maps for a place to visit that looked interesting. (Funny: in New York I'd Google different phrases or check starred posts in my blog reader for new places I'd read about when looking for something to do. Here I try to spot attractive terrain and see what's nearby). That's how I came across Winterviken, a combination restaurant/cafè + garden + event space just west of Gröndal and Liljeholmen, and no more than a 15-minute drive from the heart of Stockholm.
Once I saw pictures of the grounds itself (including its tasty sweets) and realized that on the weekends there's a story hour run by people that work for a group specializing in organizing activities for children, we decided we had to go—it seemed perfect for us.
Which it was.
The high-ceilinged, open space was lit by the light streaming in from the large circular windows along the walls and votives lining the tables. There was a café with loads of tasty things to try (and not just sweets, savory dishes, too!) and cozy communal tables to sit at. Beyond it was another room where story books, wooden toys and miniature furniture stood at the ready for play. A woman was settled into an easy chair with children gathered around her sprawled out on pillows, listening while she read.
Like I said: perfect.
Johanna and I picked up a sandwich, a semla (a doughy bun spread through with almond paste and an extremely thick layer of cream, a chokladboll, some other nutty treat, an apple juice, a coffee, and a cappuccino and tucked ourselves into a small table right next to the children's area where Selina was listening intently to a story. Meanwhile we caught up, as we haven't had a chance to spend time together in person since before the New Year.
When the storyteller took a break, though, I decided to play storyteller myself, as Selina was momentarily the only child by the armchair, and everyone says the best way to learn a language is by reading children's books. She handed me Den Fula Ankungen, which I attempted to read, but you know what people forget when they say that about children's books? Fairytales and sagas and whatnot are rife with adjective-filled descriptions. Which is fine and necessary to get a child's imagination roaring, except that all of those adjectives were words I didn't know how to pronounce, much less understand. So while I paged through and pointed to the Swedish illustrations, I told Selina what I remembered of the English version of The Ugly Duckling. She sort of bought it...but barely.
Luckily before I started to get really kerflummoxed, Johanna had the brilliant idea to go out while there was still light to make more use of the sled we'd brought with us.
And that's when things got really fun: you know how sometimes the fact that you can't control your own movements results in rolling bouts of laughter (or is that just me?)—like when you can't deal with exam prep anymore and head out behind your university's library where there's a mini valley and just roll right down the hillside to give yourself a laugh (again...just me?)?
Or when you and a friend can't manage to stand up when you're calf-deep in the ocean because a not-really-that-strong set of waves keep coming in back-to-back and you're laughing too hard from the first awkward flail to get it together enough to stand up?
That's what playing in the snow at Winterviken was like this weekend. For some reason, perhaps the combination of the snow being deeper than we thought it was or maybe because there was a slim layer of ice on top of the grass below it (or even just the existence of the long grass itself), we could not manage to walk properly, even less so when we tried to get Selina and the sled up a tiny incline so she could sled down. I fell down face first once, and then again as soon as I managed to stand up. And when I tried to show Selina how to fall back gently and make snow angels? I couldn't get back up right away.
Our laughter peeled across the meadow and those moments, ever single one of them, melded together into wintry perfection—the kind of day I won't forget in a long time, if ever. Even if I can't see these girls often enough, it's enough that when we do spend time together, it's so beautiful and fun and laughter-filled.
P.S. Coincidence or not, the orchid Johanna gifted me when we first moved to Stockholm, which was in hibernation all winter after flowering for 6 months, budded and re-bloomed with three fuchsia-striped flowers this weekend.
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One year ago: Week 4
Two years ago: Literary and libationary libraries & All Good Things market in Tribeca