I’ve been hit by summer sentimentality. Those of you who don’t live in the northern part of the world probably don’t recognize this emotion, so let me explain: In Scandinavia, and more specifically in Sweden where I happen to live, summer is a rare and fleeting occurrence. According to calendar it happens in June to August, but in reality it’s more a matter of a few weeks. Or if you’re really unlucky, a few days. The rest of the year, it’s pretty much fifty shades of grey (without the whole bondage contract-thing) (unless that’s your thing) (but seriously, a contract?).
That’s why us Swedes have a complex relationship to summer. We long for it, yearn for it nine months a year, and when it’s finally here, we’re stressed out of our minds because we know it’ll soon be gone again. If the weather’s not cooperating, giving us those hot, sunlit days followed by the warm, light evenings we fantasize about all winter, Swedes get angry and bitter, sometimes even depressed.
To me, it’s not so much about the weather. I’m okay with the fact that the sun isn’t shining all the time and that my skin has only gone from milk white to vanilla yellow this past month. Too much sunbathing is bad for you anyways and I don’t like to sweat unless I’m in my workout clothes. It’s more the whole slipping through my fingers-thing that gets me. Every day of summer is one day less left of it and one day closer to fall and winter and I feel I should be out there, catching every minute of it. Smell the flowers, go for a swim, seize the day and all that. Even though I like the seasons changing and there are things I love with with all four of them, summer is still the bittersweet notion that time is passing and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
So how do I deal with all this existential time fleeting-angst? Strawberries. Strawberry season, like summer, is short and therefore I see it as my obligation to eat as much of them as I possibly can before it’s too late. I’ll have strawberries and milk for dinner, I’ll smash them and have them instead of jam on my pancakes, I’ll have them on my cereal in the morning and I’ll eat them with ice cream for dessert. Sometimes I go to a strawberry field and pick a bucket or so, then I’ll eat about half of that bucket the following days and put the rest in the freezer to use in smoothies in the winter.
I’ll eat so many strawberries my stomach goes in to rumbling, panic-stricken shock and then I’ll eat some more after that. If there was something like a strawberry eating competition, I would win it the minute I showed up. I eat strawberries like there’s no tomorrow and when fall inevitably comes, I know I seized, if not each and every day, at least the summer season.