December 1st, 2017
It is 6:30 am in the morning and I am walking in the darkness from the bus stop at the university towards my warm laboratory. It took me almost a week to find the shortcut between the darkened buildings; it will be at least 10:00 am before the sun is fully up.
There is this sound your boots make in morning snow. Sometimes it is a crunch, sometimes just a swish. I stopped as I turned into the road that runs the length of the campus:
There is no one around except a man smiling at me with a video camera. In crisp English, he asks, please, if I would help him: “Would you please walk back the way you came, turn and then come back to the brazier. I want to take a video for the university. Then, as you come to it, please put a log on the fire, turn and walk down the road. Please do not look back…“
So I turn and do as he says, warming my hands on the fire before tossing on some kindling. Perhaps I shall end up in some university promotion video <laugh>.
As I walk away, I see that someone has been up before me, lighting candles in the snow as far as I can see across the campus. Welcome to 1st December, the first day of Advent here in Sweden. Later I will find that it is not just out here that there are lights, they have appeared in windows everywhere overnight.
By the beginning of December, Sweden has very few hours of daylight. The first Sunday of Advent comes as an eagerly awaited sign that Christmas is approaching. Time to light the candles, heat up the mulled wine, or glögg, and get into the Christmas mood.
So, at 11:00 am today, Gulnara and Hasan took Chen-Wei and I out to one of the oldest Swedish houses near the campus. It is now a staff restaurant and on 1st December, it hosts AdventFika, coffee with torte and friends.
A walk in the snow then standing by the open fire followed by hot coffee and gorgeous food…ahhh… makes the hours slaving over equations SO much easier…
I love this place..