January was full of eyes peeking through gaps between scarves and hats, piles of bare Christmas trees, prolific gritting by the municipality, Julstjärna clinging onto their remaining time in windows, large areas of frozen water, the “clack clack” of Nordic skaters weaving along the ice and best of all, the first semlor in bakeries.
Treacherous was our most used word. Snow stayed us with for most of the January and the layers compacted into thick sheet ice as the month progressed. Heavy gritting meant it was time to start chasing bits of grit around the apartment, to prevent it scratching the floor. The fact it’s gravel sized grit makes the job a little easier.
We started seeing people dragging Christmas trees around the city. They can be taken to drop-off points, where they are collected and used for district heating or making biochar.
A dramatic increase in Covid infections meant busy cafés sat mostly empty (even with social distancing measures in place). This place is a bakery and café rolled into one — we couldn’t resist picking up one of the baguettes we spotted through the window.
This tape indicates that snow or icicles may fall from the roof above. Some buildings have these flags but others just use the tape to fence off an area underneath. We were walking around Södermalm recently and a piece of ice the size of a brick slid off the roof about 3 metres behind us!
People were still visiting city beaches despite the cold and bleak weather — some let their kids go nuts for a while, other enjoyed fika (coffee and a sweet treat) in the fresh air.
Sun returned at the end of the month; the days were still very short but a little sunshine was glorious. Swedes love to stand in the sun with their eyes closed at this time of year. We were walking along the water and saw four people stood with their eyes closed, in a patch of sun only a few metres wide. It reminded me of this article comparing Swedes to sunflowers.
January ended in a frozen state that will continue for several more weeks. I don’t mind though because I like the seasonal extremes in this country and Winter opens up possibilities for different types of adventure!