This week has been a bit bleak weather-wise, but last weekend was smashing, and I took myself out of doors for a longer walk than usual. It was -7 degrees, but my Windsor&Newton marker worked pretty well, and I added some watercolour when I was back in the warmth of home.
We have a very nice forest cemetery not far from our house, Örnäskyrkogården, and it gives very pretty, and not too complicated views to draw. For some reason we rarely go there, and yet I think cemeteries are such nice places to walk in; they inspire kontemplation. Of course, we always come here on All Saint´s Day to light candles for our dear departed.
The drawing I published on Christmas Eve turned out to be prophetic; I had counted on company on my walk before hitting the Christmas buffet, but at eleven everyone was still sleeping, showering or making breakfast. Well, I was waiting for no one, I had a date with the sun! We see precious little of it this time of year, and you know you are hungry for light when you get excited and take photo after photo of things reflecting direct sunlight; like tree trunks or house fronts.
I was out for about two hours, and so was the sun. The temperature was about minus three, which was perfect for photographing, but I would have brought a sketchkit if I had known I´d be all by myself!
So, I´m back linking up with Bleubeard & Elisabeth on T Tuesday; so much interesting crafting and art going on in that group! Not sure how it is going to work now that I am going back to school and starting a new life, but we´ll see. As for tea, I have been drinking tea made from fresh ginger these last two weeks, to cure a stubborn cough. It is tasty, though, and I am thinking of making it regularly, as a preventive measure.
Today´s sketches are from the southern harbour in Luleå, where there has been some effort by the town council to open it up, clean it from trash, and make it a real meeting-point for people. There are barbeque hearths with tables and benches, a ramp for skateboarders, fountains for the kids to play in (to make up for the lack of a proper, sandy bathing beach). They even put up a few potted palmtrees! Everyone has been talking about it, but we didn´t make it there all summer. Finally, I had an extra half-hour after making errands in town and decided to go and make some quick sketches. Not a lot of people there, but those who were seemed to enjoy themselves!
On a tea related note, I´ll share with you my new favourite thing: the student fika thermos. I will be using it today for the first time, and will think of all the Tuesday T drinkers/crafters/artists when I have my cuppa! Happy T Day!
The main street in Luleå (Storgatan, which literally means “the big street”) is where most of the downtown shops are. Much commerce has moved to Storheden, a shopping centre on the outskirts of town (huge parkinglots, you know the kind), but still, some shops hang on. Storgatan begins roughly where the train station is, with a square called Loet (lo = lynx), where you also find the coachstation, from where you can take the bus to most other communities in Swedish Lapland and beyond.
At the other end of Storgatan you will find the regional governor´s (landshövding) residence, a quaint yellow building. Walking from there, you pass the regional museum (Norrbottens museum) where you can learn about Sami culture and the early Swedish colonization, the “highschool village” (gymnasiebyn), Hermelinsparkenwhich is Luleå´s oldest park, dating from 1870 and named after Samuel Gustaf Hermelin, a mountain engineer who owned a mining company and was once Swedish ambassador in the United States. Not far from there we have the Town Hall (Stadshuset), the Town Hotel (Stadshotellet), and the Cathedral (domkyrkan), by the Town Park (Stadsparken). Here you can see a great view over the park, taken from the Town Hall roof.
More or less in the middle, Storgatan is crossed by Smedjegatan (smithy street) where you find all the local buses and the Culture House (Kulturens hus), with library, café, restaurant, art gallery, and concert halls. The Culture House also sits by the northern harbour, and across from it is Norrbottensteatern, the regional theatre, housed in a row of old warehouses from the days when most transports went by sail.
The husband, who has started his vacation, came along to town today for a haircut, and we had lunch in one of the outdoor cafés that pop up every summer, when the northerners are thirsty for some sun and a bit of airing the old bones. Some of our neighbours will put shorts on at Midsummer and wear them until school starts at the end of August, no matter what the weather.
I didn´t do an entire sightseeing for you today, but did my usual round of errands, bringing the camera with me to capture anything interesting along the way, for the congregation at Tuesday T with Bluebeard & Elisabeth.
Today we had tea at the mum-in-law´s, after doing her shopping and helping her with this and that. I also did a bit of sewing on her machine – she has actually given it to me, but I don´t want to take it home, I´d rather do my sewing next to someone with 80+ years of experience!
We wanted to make the most of Saturday, the second day of proper summer this year, and since we were (or at least I was) too tired to climb any mountains, we opted for Selets bruk. Sel means “a stretch of smooth water between rapids” according to my dictionary. Really, doesn´t English have a word for that? Selets bruk is a nature reserve on an old iron works site, you could also call it an outdoor industrial museum. Only a hundred years ago, it looked like this:
Now, it´s more like this:
We walked around, enjoyed the weather, took a few photos, had fika (the husband had brought some wonderful sandwiches and a tea thermos) at one of the camping tables and I took some time to sketch while he walked around some more. It was probably ten years since we last were here, which is weird, because we used to come all the time. I even arranged my 30th birthday party in one of these camping cottages!
Well, summer started on Midsummer eve, isn´t that perfect? The mum-in-law had dressed in traditional Luleå valley dress, 1912´s model, which she has weaved and sewed herself (the matching hand warmers were knit by me). She offered me to borrow it once, for a wedding, but I can´t see myself in it – I grew up in dirndl (having Austrian descent), after all. She half-expected to be photographed by German tourists, but not this time. Personally, I was taken completely by surprise and left the house in a raincoat.
Most people were sprawled out on blankets, soaking up some much-desired sun, and didn´t participate as much in the dancing as last year, when everyone needed to warm up a bit.
I sketched and the husband took some photos with his iPhone camera, which is very good, I think, at least compared to the one I have in my phone. I like this one, where he caught the crowd, a bit of the old town hall, and in the far distance, the new “skyscrapers” that symbolize the new, modern Luleå.
We went home, had some traditional Midsummer food which the husband cooked while the mum-in-law and I had a nap (in my defense, I had been working all night). It was all very laid back and restful. I took a photograph from our window at midnight, even though the summer solstice was, I think, on Sunday the 21. One day here or there, it doesn´t make much difference.
It is again that time of year when the sun hardly sets at all, and the white nights make people happy and a little crazy. We intend to take the mum-in-law to Gültzau-udden again this year, to look at the dancing and frolicing. Then we will eat traditional matjes herring, new potatoes, and strawberries. I wish everyone a very jolly weekend!
We took a quick walk around town Saturday to check out the Pride festival. I have never been, due to my awkward working hours, and we could just take a quick look today, since we had places to be and things to do. I have to say, it looked like a lot of fun. Other than the hbtq activist, also taking part were the Church of Sweden, the university, and the Swedish military, and many more. Next year, perhaps I shall march, too!
I am doing very little drawing, the beginning if this summer is so depressingly cold and bleak and I was so looking forward to going out to sketch after this long winter. Yesterday was the first day that felt remotely summery, and what did we do? We walked along the railway tracks up to the steel works. It isn’t very far, still, none of us has ever walked that way before.