Tuesday, February 06, 2007
This Week: Winter-break or Sportlov
This week I am going to take you on a little trip back to the 70’s.
Every winter the kids in Sweden have a winter-break. It is a week off from school and we call it winter-break, or Sport-break. During that time you are supposed to be out doing winter sports, skating, tubing, cross- country skiing .Or, if you’re into downhill skiing! Then you might go to the Swedish Alps, and if you can afford it, the real Alps in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France or Italy.
No, I’ve never been on a winter-break like that. I have never been skiing in the Alps of continental Europe. I wish that I could say so, but sadly that is not the case. NOT that I cared when I was younger. I think skiing back then scared the living daylights out of me. Actually, it still scares the living daylights out of me! The very few times in my life when I have been skiing downhill I’ve been SCARED. First time was in Sälen in Sweden, second, and third, time at the closest “alp” to Stockholm, Romme Alpin in the province of Dalecarlia. Fourth time in Aspen, Colorado…I remember that I stood crying on a top of a mountain. Took the skis’ off and walked down in the end. Fifth time around was at some lame hill close to DC. BUT, wait, I was not going to write about downhill skiing now. NO, that will be in a later post this month (if I survive our ski-trip to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia the last weekend of February).
But, but, but---Enough about that!
When we were kids we loved going to my grandparents in Närpes, Finland on our “sportlov” breaks. THAT was the ultimate trip for us.
It was so nice to be at my grandparents during the winter. So different from the summer trips, so totally different.
Just to visit them in the still of winter was fantastic, to see all the snow, so wonderful! Snow that turned blue during the twilight hour, snow that we could play in all day long, snow that we could ski in, snow that we could go sledding in.
Well, there also were the small little marshes in the forest that were frozen solid during the cold winter months. We always brought our skates with us from Stockholm, and my mom and my grandmother made sure that we could go ice-skating on the nearby “Öjpott”. They went ahead and shoveled the whole marsh free from snow, and then we skated and skated.
Some winters we brought our cross-country skis’, and that was just wonderful. We could put them on right outside the door, and then ski out over the fields, and even in to the forest at times. Very, very serene!
And then we had the sauna!!! My grandparents made sure it was a fire going in the sauna-oven the whole day. To make sure the sauna heated up, slowly but surely. In the evening/late afternoon it was time to enter the sauna. The temperature could very well be 90 degrees Celsius by then, about 194 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. No, we could not sit in the sauna for a long time if it was that hot in there. Usually I think the temperature in there was about 75-80 degrees (176 F).
It’s so nice inside my grandparent’s sauna, , you just enjoy the heat, you wash yourself off in there and you throw water on the stones on the oven to create more heat and steam. And, yes, when you are super hot and cannot stand it anymore you’ll go outside and roll yourself in the snow! THAT is an awesome feeling! I wish I could do it again sometime.
The evenings were very nice as well! We watched TV, played Bingo, read books together and then we topped every evening off with open-faced hot sandwiches. Loaded with tomatoes, ham and cheese. We enjoyed that so very much, and ate a lot. NO diet problems back then, oh how I miss that. We drank tea in my grandmother’s wonderful clear colored tea cups. Very cool, we thought. Those cups were so 70’s!!
And then to fall asleep in a warm house, and wake up in a cold one is something else. I’ve always had a hard time sleeping at my Grandma’s at night, city girl as I am. The dark is solid. One cannot even see the hand in front of the face, and then the stillness and the quietness is so “in your face”. Almost too much to bear…At least the first couple of nights.
But, of course you fell asleep after a while and slept very well. In the morning you would wake up to a fire roaring in the tile stove. Slowly but surely the room got nice and toasty.
Always snow on the ground, and always a lot of the white stuff. Another fun thing we did, and loved, was to go out on the “kicks”--- kick-sleds. SO much fun! At night time we would sometimes take walks in the dark. It was extremely nice if it was a full moon glistering on the white blanket of snow.
I think we went to Finland every sportlov from 1975 until 1981, and then some after that. Oh, and then Karolina and I went there together with my parents every winter 97-01 to visit my Grandmother for a week. That was all before Karolina started school. Now we are not going to Scandinavia that often in the winter time anymore.
I miss it a lot, and I think about it with joy on days like this when the weather is cold.
My Mom and Dad are in Närpes, Finland right now to visit with my Grandmother for three weeks. I envy them---Have a great time!!!
Oh, and I am about to take my walk now. This ice cold day in Northern Virginia…-13 degrees Celsius now, 8 degrees F! But no wind today so it should be fine…
The picture is from Art.com