Consumables and the Swedish Summer
by Randall Auxier
First let me say that I love Poland. It's the Midwest in so many ways, but moreso --older, more dignified, more tested by war, famine and plague. There is a reason that the Poles who emigrated to the US liked Illinois and southern Wisconsin and Michigan, but there is also a reason that the Nordic contingent preferred Minnesota, upper Iowa, and nether Wisconsin. The Scandinavians and the Poles have a great deal in common, but the commonality stops at the threshold of summer. When it comes to summer, the Poles must suffer it, but the Scandinavians, well, let's just say they don't.
Have you ever spent a night in Chicago when it was plus 90 and the humidity was still higher? A lot of Chicagoans believe they need no a/c, but then again, they could be pretty wrong about that. The 90-plus days are getting more numerous every year, and that, friends and neighbors, is also summer in Silesia. On the other hand, there is Sweden on the same day, at a commodious 72 and a level of humidity well below that. Is this fair? Must Poles suffer while Swedes party? Blitzkrieg and slaughter as opposed to successful neutrality? (See my last post.) I don't even want to think about it, let alone write about it.
|The sun, almost not going down.|
Alright, I'm exaggerating. We hate this and we whine about it. And we dream of Swedish summers. Swedish summer is roughly what heaven would look like, if we could conjure the image, whether you're a Pole or anyone else. It is a day in which the light disappears as midnight approaches, in which breezes are reliable, cool, and welcome, even though they are unneeded. It is the land where no one is inclined to know your sins, or to care about them, but still everyone is entitled to decent healthcare and housing. It is the world in which no one is ostentatious, no matter how rich, and no one goes hungry or uncared for, no matter how many bad choices may haunt her days. It is a place where prisons are almost entirely unnecessary, but people still have permission to pursue wealth responsibly. Swedish summer. Heaven. That's about how it goes.
Restaurang Mediterranean in the medieval city of Lund. I have one free day between conferences. The weather is glorious. Everyone else is sitting outside, but I saw a spot, elevated above the main floor, with a nice table for writing. Everything is expensive in Sweden and I don't even want to know how much I am paying for my cheese plate and half carafe of (decidedly non-Swedish) wine. I worked out a nice method for calculating it, which I posted before, but not today.
|My friend Joseph|
Joseph brings tray after tray of amazing consumables from the kitchen to the deck. It's a ritual, I believe, and he is the presiding official. The Swedes are all out there, enjoying their consumables rather unstoically (for Swedes). But this is hardly the last days of Pompeii (speaking of places hotter than hell). This is no Bachannalia, even if the victuals and libations are right. It is only a subdued celebration of what it is like to be temporary and human on an unending summer day, when the sun doesn't hurt and it doesn't chase and it doesn't chide. Here it elicits a toast: "to our father, the sun, and his long summer life!"
|Lamb, zucchini, real feta, et cetera.|