Valborgsmässoafton, that’s the Swedish name of the Walpurgis Night, which is celebrated on April 30, which is today (or has been 15 minutes before). A friend invited me to celebrate valborgsmässoafton with her family in Aspliden and I accepted gladly.
Beside of nice people to celebrate with you need three ingredients for a typical valborgsmässoafton:
1. Good food.
In this case a so called “Smörgåstorta” – a sandwich cake which is a very popular dish for special days as today.
2. A big bonfire.
The bigger the better. It can be quite hard to light a bonfire, because the cut down trees, twigs and branches are mostly very cold and soaking wet.
3. Cold weather, preferably with wind and snow showers.
While the first half of the day was sunny, clouds came in in the afternoon and round 8 o’clock we got our first snow shower. Last year it snowed as well.
Most Swedish people don’t think at all that chilly and snowy weather must be a part of the valborgsmässoafton, put it’s quite typical.
And just an off-topic photo from today. Three whooper swans that I saw today at the same place.
Two weeks ago the sea between the island Storgrundet and the mainland was still partly ice covered. Today I paddled round Storgrundet and couldn’t discover any ice left. The view of the blue sea almost looked like spring, but it didn’t felt like spring at all, it was very windy and chilly. When I left the protected bay I tried to make some photos but soon gave up since I was blown back ashore faster than I could take my camera out of its pocket. I only made a selfie on which it’s quite visible that – measured by temperature – spring hasn’t come far yet.
At the outside of the island I didn’t had a chance to release the paddle for a photo, too high were the waves. I regretted soon that I paddled without spray deck, because some of the bigger waves made it into my kayak. The next photo I made in a sheltered bay, where the water finally was calm enough and I could empty my kayak with a sponge (it wasn’t so much water, that came in).
Some hours later …
I had a look at “kanotudden” (literally: the canoe bay), a bay of the river Skellefteälven, where the ice is finally gone, too. Almost. There is some leftover ice, mostly crushed to small bits that were jingling and clanging with each arriving wave. But even the small bits were still solid enough to bear a wandering wagtail looking for food.
The canoe club, which is located at kanotudden still seems to be in hibernation, I’ll have to check later …
I have an “Ohrwurm” – an earworm: a piece of music that lingers in my mind. It’s a Swedish folksong based on a part of Johann Sebastian Bachs cantata “Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet”.
The text starts with “Nu grönskar det i dalens famn” which means “Now it flourishes in the valley’s arms”. And so it is: The birch trees in Skelleftehamn start to open their leaf buds and slowly, but surely nature becomes green again. And now – after much rain in the morning – even the sun came out. We had rain, now we need warmth and nature will explode. Sometimes spring in Northern Sweden is not a season but just a short switch from winter to summer.
Today I took a short tour from the small boat harbour Killingören, just 650 meters away from my house. After taking the Kejsar Ludvigs kanal – a small channel, that splits the peninsula Rönnskär – I headed to the small island Kalkgrundet, where I landed my kayak. In the shadow of the trees there’re still some patches of snow left – up to 30 centimetres. I guess it’s the leftovers of a huge snowdrift.
I walked round the island and saw a Canada goose swimming nearby. One more step and I saw another one fleeing from land to sea. It was really near but I didn’t see it before it fled. I took some photos and continued my walk. Then I saw the reason why the geese didn’t just swim away: They were nesting. Sorry, my geese, I didn’t know this. I took a very quick photo of the nest and continued walking round the small island. When I was round the corner I peeked back and could see the geese going on land again.
I continued my kayak tour to an old pier at the shore of Örviken. From the distance it looked quite stable, but when I came closer I could see that it was ruinous and many of the wooden logs wobbled in the tiny waves.
I crossed the Sörfjärden and entered the bay Kurjoviken. I could see the bright coloured blossoms of the marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris). I love these flowers and when I was home again two hours later I visited the place from land to make some photos. Here they are:
Believe it or not, it is possible to travel back in time, at least some weeks.
Here in Skelleftehamn near the coast the ice on the Baltic Sea, the river Skellefteälven and all lakes is gone and all birch trees are bedecked with green leaves.
Yesterday I had a gig in the Skidstugan Stenabäck – a small ski hut between Norsjö and Lycksele. On the way there I could see the birch trees being less and less green until they were leafless again. As I said – like travelling back in time. But I was even more fascinated by the fact, that parts of the lake Stor kvammarn were still covered with ice.
Just at the driveway to the ski hut some reindeers were hanging around. I saw them again several times this weekend. The group was easy to recognise because of the white reindeer with the pale pink horns.
I stayed over night and so I got the opportunity to make a picture of the incredible evening sky. It looked like clouds burning in slow motion.
Today I took a short tour by car with R. who drove along some forest roads nearby. We saw a young moose standing in the forest and just beside the road a Western capercaillie probably looking for a hen.
Then I took my own car and drove home, not the fast and boring main roads but the smaller ones. I saw four more moose on three different places. Five moose total – a new record, but there all were quite camera-shy, trotted away and hid in the dense forest – one even crossed a small river and even if I couldn’t see her anymore I could still hear her feet splashing through the water.
One photo through the windscreen – just for the records.
|western capercaillie, wood grouse, heather cock||Auerhuhn/Auerhahn||tjäder|
I have to admit, that it felt a bit strange to travel to Umeå. For one thing it’s a big town and for another thing it’s south from Skellefteå and that’s not my usual travel direction.
You may laugh at me calling Umeå a big town. Umeå has 80000 inhabitants and that may not sound very much, but the whole city with its many big buildings and streets feels much bigger, especially if you compare it to Skellefteå – the next town nearby – which is less than half as big and appears only a tenth as busy as Umeå.
I stayed over night in a hotel in the 12th floor with a nice view over the town and the river Umeälven. What a pity that it rained almost the whole time.
Today it still rained a lot and I didn’t have any interest in city sightseeing. So I fled the town and took a long walk in nature. That’s much more my cup of tea.