September 8, 2011

Inspiring Sweden

As I mentioned in my September newsletter, last month I spent a week in the beautiful and proudly bilingual country of Sweden. Travel usually includes surprises, and this trip to Stockholm and Uppsala was no exception. At the Stockholm airport, I was pleasantly surprised by photographs of famous Swedish authors—including the children’s book author Astrid Lindgren. The time in Stockholm included a visit to Skansen, an open air museum and zoo. There, in the drizzle, I encountered the geese below as my husband Vern and I visited traditional homes and gardens and chatted with employees dressed in period costumes. Our hosts at each location cheerfully answered questions in Swedish or English giving us a sense of the families that had once lived in the wooden homes with sod roofs.

On the following day, we went back to the island of Djurgarden to visit Junibacken, a fairy tale house that honors the much-loved Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippi Longstocking books. My youngest is a red-head, so years ago, I gave her some Pippi books. The building was full of children and parents enjoying rooms from Lindgren’s books. Lots of chaos! When Vern and I boarded the “story train,” considered the highlight of a visit, we were asked in what language we would like to hear the audio. No, the sets weren’t slick as U.S. theme parks can be, but I loved the way an entire building was dedicated to connecting children with books through fun, one of our Día goals.

Luckily for me, my husband’s conference hotel in Uppsala was right by Carl Linnaeus' garden.  Remember Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy? I vaguely remembered him, and since I love gardens, I became excited about a visit. What a day I had visiting the museum in what was once his home and wandering the garden rows reading the Latin names he had assigned and that I’ve been learning such as helianthus anus for the annual sunflower variety. What odd comfort to see the familiar Latin names used by gardeners and botanists all over the world. I bought books about Linnaeus whose life and journey now fascinate me. Bookjoy: through print being connected with those in the past whose passions affect our world.

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