October 16, 2014

Outing with Mulle

I took a flight across Sweden this past weekend, to visit my sister and her family. It was a quick visit, but it´s so hard to organize longer visits, for all kinds of reasons, that I decided that quick and often must be better than long and seldom. Also, being childless and well into middle age, I do find the energy of my two nephews (they are five and eight) a bit overwhelming. As it was, I left on Sunday feeling more sad than relieved to part and quite eager to come again. Which is as it should be.

It is a whole different climate down there; Sweden is a long country, or, if you think of north as up, tall. I came from freezing temperatures, near snowing, to a comfortable 15 something degrees (I have known summers that never were any warmer). When I tell people I am going to Gothenburg, they think I am going to the city, but my sister lives in a small village and it´s more like going out into the country, with farms and woods. You meet horses on every path, and on a walk we met a beekeeper giving his bees medicine, some kind of acidious mixture. The children have no fear at all - unlike their parents and their aunt, who stayed well clear of any irritated bees. (The beekeeper had pacified them with smoke before he let the boys come closer.)

The whole family is active in the Swedish Outdoors Association (Friluftsfrämjandet), and I got to come along to Mulle-school (= Mulle is a kind of troll that teaches children between five and seven about the forest, with the help of mums and dads, of course). I never went to Mulle-school myself, but it´s existed since the late fifties.

It was great fun, although I did feel a bit misplaced. The children got to collect leaves, talk about trees, fika (this seems to be the best part!) and then followed a small brook from a waterfall to see where it went (into a lake). One of the teachers gave them all buckets and asked "what can you do with a bucket?"; one girl said "build your own brook!" and all the children immediately started filling their buckets and empty them a few meters up on dry land. Then someone found a pair of man´s underpants left behind and hanging in a bush, and decided they needed to be watered as well. It was highly entertaining, not just to participate, but to watch.

The Mulle-school has its own blogg, and even auntie Viktoria is caught on one or two snaps, looking a bit off (I blame it on lack of sleep, from which I suffer most weekends). I didn´t bring my drawing things, but made a kind of sketch/map of the day on the flight back.

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