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Scen: Singoalla i Hagaparken
Klippdockor från 60-talet
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Kvinnliga faraoner
"Saltis" i Saltsjöbaden?
Utdöd? Du skämtar väl!
The Spider Rules!
Fredag den trettonde
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Musik: Timeless Music
Musik: Summertime at Dalhalla
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Foto: Färgsprakande provokation
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Utrotat djur Australiens heliga Graal
En skandalkarriär värd att belysa
I sus och dus med Brus
Berlin andra gången gillt
Könsroller under bronsåldern
Kristian II: Tyrann eller älskad kung?
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I den verkliga diktaturen
Destruktiviteten är en konstant
Katja Timgren får Slangbellan
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Långt hemifrån

Dikter från Kuba

Hur man ger sin katt ett piller

Fisketur med Moses

Notes on a Visit to Sweden
By Martin Bressler

As near as anyone has been able to determine, and I really don't know of any research in this area, the sex practices of Swedish female scientists are no different or more varied than those of other women of comparable age in Sweden or the other developed nations of the world.

And so we can proceed with the notes on a visit to Sweden. The notes are brief and have a very simple theme: Sweden is a lovely, livable and beautiful country, in large part because of things it doesn't have.

I spent three three weeks of June 2002 in Sweden with Bea who was born and raised there, visiting and staying with her relatives and seeing the sights — on a farm outside of Kil, in an apartment in Stockholm, a summer cabin on an island in the Stockholm harbor archipelago, Göteborg, Karlstad, Dalhalla and many other places. Walked in cities, towns, villages, gravel roads, and forest trails. Travelled a thousand kilometers or more in a private car, as well as by plane and railroad.

Sweden is not famous as a place of great natural beauties or tourist attractions. The fjords are in Norway. There are no great jagged peaks or soaring snowy mountain ranges. The great ice sheets of the last ice age scraped and gouged and flattened the country, but as in the American midwest left a big sky. The June weather we experienced was both pleasant and extremely temperamental. Just about every day we had some combination of warm sunshine, cool cloudiness, and rain showers or thunderstorms. The big sky was always filled with interesting and sometimes dramatic cloud patterns.

Sweden in June is very green especially when coming directly from California — bright, startlingly green, fields and pastures and the much darker brooding green of evergreen forest, that seem to start within the cities and towns and stretch everywhere in between.

The green fields and forests surround the airport buildings at Karlstad where we were picked up and driven to a farm outside of Kil. On that trip and on the many kilometers we travelled in the subsequent several weeks, we were always moving over a gently rolling terrain covered by field and meadow and forest and by hundreds, possibly thousands, of lakes. We were were almost always passing a lake or in view of a lake, mostly empty, sometimes with a sailboat or two in view, sometimes with a building or several buildings visible on a wooded shore, but mostly empty and unspoiled and viewed against the big sky.

Everywhere outside of the towns and cities, homes and barns and other farm buildings are painted the same way — a brown red with white trim, and with the cattle stall sections of the barns completely white — with very few exceptions. We saw two or three larger buildings on bigger lawns that were white or yellow and that we guessed to be estates or manor houses or ministers' homes. And in a little village by the sea that we visited, the summer homes were painted in many different colors.

If I see a house anywhere, in red brown with white trim, and especially if it is built of thick timbers, and with forest and a glimpse of lake in the background, I'll know I'm in the Swedish countryside.

But as I said , it’s what it doesn't have, that makes Sweden so nice!

There are no big bill boards, just direction signs at junctions and turn offs and the symbolic indications for food, gas and lodging.

There are no telephone or power poles along the highway or in the towns and cities, or along the dirt and gravel roads either. Everything is underground even in the very rural areas (with the exception of the high voltage power lines which we saw on two widely separated occasions in cleared swathes winding out of sight through field and forest.)

There is no trash on the highways or on the backroads — no bottles, cans, wrappers, newspapers, tires. In several weeks of driving along the highways and backroads, walking town and city streets, and along forest trails never noticed a single piece of trash.

There are no waves and no pot holes on the excellent, well maintained highways and roads. Traffic is very light by southern California standards and we never experienced any congestion, just a few short delays where road work was going on.

There are no unpainted or derelict building or structures to be seen - or at least we never saw any — just one or two that were being repaired or painted. Not along the roads and not in town or city. There doesn't seem to be any slums. Of course, there is no smog and we never saw even a haze over the towns or industrial sites.

They do not clear cut timber and so there are no dismal stretches of clear cut forest to blight the landscape.

There doen't seem to be anything corresponding to our highway patrols or state troopers. May have gotten a glimpse of a police car in Stockholm but never saw a police car on the roads, or a policeman or uniformed security guard or anyone with a club or gun, anywhere.

I said I'd be brief and so
won't tell you why or how every Swedish person has a name day as well as a birthday, or when and where we saw three moose and a deer, or how moose or stinging nettle soup taste, or about the flowers and berries along the roadsides,or how long the midsummer days are, or how nice the fresh birch leaves on a May pole smell as they dry — but do want to mention one inscrutably Swedish cultural event we attended, — the bare facts only and leave unsaid what they imply, if anything, about Sweden and the Swedish people.

We travelled by car to a resort town called Rätvik and by bus from our hotel to a concert site in the region called Dalhalla. Dalhalla is a huge hole in the ground — a limestone quarry that has been turned into an outdoor theater. The performing stage floats on the waterfilled bottom and rows of woooden benches stretch in great arcs around the walls of the pit.

We walked from the bus on a dirt road that spirals down and around the perimeter of the pit to the top row of benches, and then down concrete stairs to our our row and seats to hear a concert of gospel music — the very spirited, moving church music of American black culture. But the performing group, the B&B Gospel Singers, turned out to be a native Swedish group with several black people (from the U.S.the program told us).

We and the rest of the audience had brought pads for the hard benches and warm jackets and rain clothes for the unpredictable weather. It rained intermittently during the show and very hard on several occasions. The audience became a quilt of shiny wet rain coats — but the people stayed. My short raincoat didn't cover my legs when I was seated and my pants legs got soaked several times.

The performers were good. Their notes and harmonies were true and they moved their arms and legs with spirit as they sang. The words of the songs they sang were English but they announced the numbers in Swedish. They did an especially good job on the great hymn "Amazing Grace". They sang from a big cool stage rather than a crowded church and their faces were animated but didn't glow with fervor or shine with sweat.

It continued to rain as we walked up the spiral dirt road to the buses after the concert. I was thinking as we walked in the rain that it was impossible to rate or critique the performance. If you have a talking dog it is not appropriate to criticize his accent; and if you have a group of mostly pale, blond people from a quite different culture who sing gospel well, that is amazing enough and needs no comments or comparisons.

I travel for experience and here I certainly had one, sitting cold and wet at the bottom of a great pit and listening to a mostly white group sing gospel. Don't think any of the people I know will have a more unusual travel experience to tell… I don't.

Copyright © 2001, Kulturtidskriften Café Crème
Lydia Duprat