What a difference five minutes makes. Right now in Sweden, we are gaining about five minutes of daylight per day. Over one week, that means over 30 minutes more of light. I love this time of year, even if I am still freezing my britches off and mostly have wet feet.
Like nearly all residents of the northernmost (or southernmost) lands, the weather has the ability to strongly influence my mood now. It isn't something I thought much of as a child, where although we had four seasons as well, there are two fundamental differences: firstly, the amount of daylight and sunshine, and secondly, the weather changed constantly.
I remember taking a bike ride when I was around twelve years old with my father. It was a nice sunny summer day, warm, borderline hot, with the pervasive humidity of a Midwest summer. We took off for a 10 mile bike ride in shorts and T-shirts. After having traveled no more than three miles from home, we encountered tremendously strong winds, an approximately 5-7 degrees Celsius drop in temperature, and pouring rain mixed with hail. Add in lightning and thunder crashing almost together, and we quickly sought shelter on the roofed patio of a church. I wondered how and when we would make it home; my father told me to wait a few minutes, it was Indiana.
After less than fifteen minutes, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and we were on our way again, dripping wet, but quickly warming up from the increased temperature and exercise.
Many winters would find us outside playing in only a light sweater, to be followed the next day by half a meter of snow.
In Sweden, on the other hand, weather tends to stay the same way for at least several days, and at times weeks or months in a row. Gothenburg is particularly susceptible in winter to grey, wet, and cold days; I think one year I counted 45 days in a row.
However, the summer (a good summer, anyway) is like no where else I have been in the world. The light, the almost endless light, brings a warmth and energy to the land and the people, including me.
On Monday, my daughter threw open the front door on our way to school and yelled, "Mommy, Pappa, come look! It's light!". Our family is all making our way to work and school a little easier, just for that little bit of five minutes more light per day.